How to Remove Footprints from Wooden Floors and Furniture


Nikki asked: How do I clean cat footprints off of my dining room table? The cat walked across my nice dining room table. It is a dark wood, stained and treated table. None of the traditional polishers or cleaners seem to remove them from the table! Once I spray the table and wipe, they seem to just reappear. Help! I would like to have people over for the holidays. Thank you.

If you are finding footprints on your sealed hardwood, the likely culprit is an oily film on the surface. Surprisingly, most hardwood floor cleaners and waxes will add to this dulling layer, making footprints and other marks more visible. The good news is that if you have hardwood coated in polyurethane, you can toss those fancy cleaners and bring back a beautiful shine for mere pennies. Here’s what you need to do.

You Will Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Mop
  • Soft cloths

Steps to Remove the Footprints:

  1. To cut through the build up, it will require a mild acid (vinegar) for removal. Once the build up is removed, the footprints will not be noticeable.
  2. Start by mixing about ½ cup to 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of warm water in the bucket.
  3. Wet a mop (for flooring) or soft cloth (for other wood surfaces) in the solution, then wring it out. Make sure you get rid of all excess water until the mop or cloth is just damp.
  4. Wipe the surface with the vinegar solution, rinsing the mop/cloth frequently.
  5. Allow the wood surface to air dry. If there are any wet spots lingering, towel dry them.
  6. If the footprints remain, it means there is still build up present. If the waxes and wood polishers have been used for some time, it may necessary to repeat the above steps to remove the additional build up.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Never apply any amount of water to unsealed hardwood or to floors with a damaged or scuffed seal.
  • Even floors with a good, thick polyurethane coating should not be exposed to standing water. Always use a damp – not wet – mop or cloth and get rid of standing water immediately by drying with a soft towel.
  • If you have a lot of footprints or particularly oily floors, you can use a stronger vinegar solution. You may need to reapply more than once to get rid of a lot of buildup.
  • If vinegar is not available, make a strong batch of unsweetened tea using 5-6 tea bags per gallon of hot water. Allow to cool before mopping across the floor. The acid in the tea has similar properties to the vinegar. Be aware that this may discolor some light colored flooring. It is best for dark colored floors that are well sealed.
  • To spot clean footprints, regular Windex and a soft cloth will work well.
  • Avoid oil-based cleaners on sealed floors. Sealed floors do not need to be oiled or waxed. Simply cleaning them with a mop moistened with warm water is sufficient.


  1. Kyle says:

    The vinegar and warm water did not work, and the Windex really messed up my sofa table. Seemed to take off the seal on it. Some incredibly bad advice.

  2. Jimmy says:

    This is terrible advice. You should never wet mop a hardwood floor. My hardwood floor’s warranty card specifically states that wet mopping voids the warranty.

    I would suspect that using a microfiber cloth to remove the foot prints will work best. A slightly damp cloth is OK for really stuck-on spots.

  3. Sandy says:

    I used a product from Lowe’s that stated it was for hard wood floors called Bona. DO NOT USE! it leaves an oily residue, and when ever you walk on the floor with bare feet, or your pet walks across them, you will get oily foot prints everywhere. I have spent the whole day on my hands and knees rubbing with a soft damp rag, 4000 square feet. The spots are coming off, thank God, but, whew! Water only from now on!

  4. Michelle says:

    Moved into a new place with black stained floors. It was a nightmare. Movers and the workmen’s footprints everywhere! It looks filthy. I have to clean it every day. It even shows footprints. I used the advice of vinegar (used white distilled) and water. It worked to clean up footprints. I am hoping this, or something else keeps the footprints from showing again in the first place. I will have people remove shoes, but I need a more permanent solution.

  5. Marti says:

    We have hardwood floors in the house. Before we moved in, we had what carpets we had, and asked what product we could use for the wooden floors. He recommended Bona. I started using the product, now after two years of living here. I am getting the film. Tried a couple of other floor cleaners, still getting the film. Tried plain damp cloth, and it seems to help for a while. But have to agree with Sandy’s comment on Bona.

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