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:
- Soft cloths
Steps to Remove the Footprints:
- 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.
- Start by mixing about ½ cup to 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of warm water in the bucket.
- 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.
- Wipe the surface with the vinegar solution, rinsing the mop/cloth frequently.
- Allow the wood surface to air dry. If there are any wet spots lingering, towel dry them.
- 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.