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Home » Cleaning Old Hardwood Floors Without Refinishing | Easy Guide

Cleaning Old Hardwood Floors Without Refinishing | Easy Guide

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Hardwood floor is an essential possession in your home, so you want to keep it looking as good as possible. But over time, it can become scratched and dull.

So how do you clean your old hardwood floors without refinishing them?

  1. Sweep them daily.
  2. Use cleaning solutions such as Vinegar, Lemon juice, Windex ammonia-free universal cleaner, Bona, or Bruce Hardwood floor cleaners, etc.
  3. Polish your floors to make them shine.
  4. Clean floors regularly to make them look great and last longer.
  5. Use doormats, rugs, and other floor protectors.
Cleaning old hardwood floors without refinishing.

Read my posts on how to clean an area rug on hardwood floors or how to clean mold from wood floors to maintain them in good condition.

Cleaning Old Hardwood Floors Without Refinishing Step by Step

Here’s a step by step guide on how you can clean old hardwood floors without refinishing them:

Step 1: Sweep Your Floors

So, to maintain your wooden flooring clean, you’ll need to sweep them at least once a day or three times a week. You can use a soft-bristled broom or a vacuum cleaner with a hardwood floor attachment. If you’re looking for the best dust mops for hardwood floors, you might check my post here.

You don’t want small rocks brought from outside to damage your delicate wooden floors, right?  The quality doormat will stop most of the dirt coming to your house. Check my list of 10 best doormats for hardwood floors and see what suits you best. In addition, keeping a quality doormat will ensure no rocks, gravel, or grit is tracked in from outdoors which can scratch the wood flooring.

I personally love  Bissell Sweeper for several reasons:

  • it’s easy to maneuver and gets under furniture easily.
  • The dustbin is large enough, and it has a soft bristle brush which is perfect for hardwood floors as well as carpets.
  • Small, compact, and lightweight, so it’s easy to store.
  • Dual rotating brush roll system to pick up both small and large dust, dirt, and lint.
  • Pet safe – doesn’t scatter the dirt and debris around.
  • Noise-free cleanup and no batteries required.

Step 2: Use Cleaning Solutions

There are several cleaning solutions that you can use to clean your hardwood floors: both DIY and commercially available solutions.

Step 3: Polishing Your Old Hardwood Floors

I would polish my floors only if the above-mentioned cleaners did not work out or if there are deeper scratches that need additional attention.

NOTE: When polishing you need to repeat the process at least twice to get the finest results. Apply the first coat, wait for 24 hours and then apply the second coat. 

I recommend using Bona polisher for the best results. Just like Bona cleaners, their polisher is also quite popular. Alternatively, I encourage you to try Rejuvenate polisher. It Is quite affordable and does a great job of restoring the shine.

Keep in mind that applying a polisher is quite different from using a cleaner. In the case, of a polisher, you pour it on the floor and then extend your mop around in a circular motion to evenly distribute it. It is crucial how to mop it so no buildup will occur after.

See the video below for a better understanding.

Remember that before you decide about polishing hardwood floors, as you saw in the video, they should be quite bumped and worn down. Polishers like Rejuvenate and Bona can help you breathe new life into your flooring. 

NOTE: Polishing is an ongoing process and should be done now and then.

How to Make Wood Floors Shine Naturally

Below we’ll discuss some of the best ways to clean hardwood floors with natural products, which are usually available in almost every household.

1. Water + Soap Solution

Although water may seem like an enemy, especially to hardwood floors. But there are some ways you can utilize it for cleaning floors.

If you’re looking for a natural and eco-friendly solution, then water is the best thing to use. You can mix a little bit of liquid soap or a popular alternative like Murphy Oil Soap with lukewarm water to create a solution.

  • Pour 1/4 cup of soap into one gallon of water.
  • Then wring out your mop thoroughly on the floor.
  • Dip your mop in the cleaning solution and then mop the floor once again, this time in the direction of the grain.Ensure to remove excess water from the mop by ringing it out before mopping or else it will leave streaks on the floor.
  • Once you’re done cleaning, wipe the floor with a clean, dry cloth to remove any leftover solution.
  • Furthermore, to be extra cautious, sweep your floors with dry Swiffer sweeper pads or wipe after applying a water-soap solution.
NOTE: Make sure you don't use too much soap as it can leave a residue on floors. Also, avoid using hot water as it can damage the wood.


  • Natural and eco-friendly solution
  • Free from any harsh chemicals
  • Easy to make and budget-friendly


  • If water is applied in excess, it may seep through the wood
  • Might not work on stubborn stains

2. Vinegar + Water Solution

Vinegar is another natural and effective way to clean hardwood floors. The acidic nature of vinegar helps to break down the dirt, grime, and grease. Moreover, it also doesn’t leave any streaks or residue behind.

Since vinegar has a higher acidic content which is detrimental to your floors, you must dilute it with water to create an efficient cleaner. You can choose between cleaning vinegar or white vinegar, however, don’t consider balsamic ones because they can damage your floors.

Just like any other solution, make sure to vacuum or sweep your floors before applying the vinegar solution.

Process is straightforward:

  1. mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of lukewarm water
  2. Mop your floors the same way as mentioned above with a soapy water solution.

Remember, if you’re cleaning a larger space, make sure to remove the dirty water and refill the bucket again for efficient cleaning.


  • Natural and effective solution
  • Affordable
  • Vinegar kills mold and mildew


  • Vinegar has an unpleasant smell although it disappears quickly
  • Acidic content may damage floors so you need to be cautious

3. Lemon Juice + Water

Just like vinegar, lemon is also acidic due to which it has proven an effective cleaning agent. Moreover, it also helps to disinfect your floors and get rid of any dirt, grime, or grease.

Squeeze 1/2 of fresh lemon juice and mix it with 1 gallon of water. Then follow the same cleaning method as the above-mentioned solutions.

same cleaning method as the above-mentioned solutions.


  • Natural disinfectant
  • Refreshing smell
  • Quick, easy and cost-efficient


  • Beware not to apply too much lemon juice because of its acidic properties
TIP: Add a few drops of olive oil to lemon/water or vinegar/water mixture when cleaning old hardwood floors. You will achieve great final shine and bring back the lustre to your floors.

4. Baking Soda

Baking soda is usually not a solution for cleaning hardwood floors in itself. However, it has proven to be quite effective in removing scuff marks. They appear mostly because of shoes, pets or heavy furniture being dragged on the floor and so on.

The cleaning process is simple, take a damp sponge, put some baking soda over it, then scrub through the scuff marks and see them disappear.

To avoid any damage to your floors, don’t apply too much pressure and use a soft sponge. You can also mix this solution with a bit of water for effective cleaning without damaging your floor’s finish.

TIP: You can also use this solution to clean your carpets. Just sprinkle some baking soda on the affected areas, let it sit for about 30 minutes and then vacuum it off.


  • Easy and affordable
  • Non-abrasive


  • Not a complete solution for cleaning hardwood floors

How to Get Baking Soda off Wood Floors?

There are several ways you can clean baking soda residue off your wood floors:

If you happen to accidentally sprinkle baking soda powder on your floor, it is best to use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the powder.

On the contrary, to remove baking soda paste, I will recommend using a damp cloth or sponge. Make sure you rinse the cloth or sponge frequently to avoid spreading it around.

NOTE: Do not rub the sponge on the floor too hard as it can damage the wood.

Lastly, the easiest way is to use a steam mop. Simply, fill the tank with water, add a few drops of dish soap (for extra cleaning power), and let the machine do its work.

What Is The Best Commercial Cleaner for Old Wood Floors

There are many commercial cleaners available in the market that can be used for cleaning old wood floors. Below are my favourite picks for the hardwood floors:

Bona & Bruce Hardwood Cleaners

Bona and Bruce are undoubtedly two of the most popular brands when it comes to wooden floor cleaning solutions. Individuals who aren’t familiar with them or who have recently installed hardwood floors should consider giving these two cleaners a shot.

I won’t go into much detail about them because I have already written a detailed post on Bona VS Bruce hardwood floor cleaners which you can read to know more about each of them and how good is their performance.

These are specialized hardwood cleaners and the most trusted ones as well. The best part about them is that these cleaners do not require additional water for mopping. Simply, put some solution on the floor, mop it with a clean cloth, and you’re all done.


  • Powerful cleaning solutions – effectively removes dirt, grime, and stains
  • Non-toxic and safe to use around kids and pets
  • Restore floor shine


  • Can be expensive

Windex Ammonia-Free Cleaner

Although Windex is usually advertised as a glass cleaner, what most people do not know is that it can also be used as an effective hardwood floor cleaner.

I have personally used this solution to clean my hardwood floors and I was quite impressed with the results. Not only it did do a great job in removing dirt and grime but also restored the shine of my floors. You can also check my extensive guide on Can I use Windex on my Hardwood floors? 


  • Affordable
  • Universal Cleaner
  • Ammonia-free
  • Restores floor shine
  • Can be used without water


  • None

Regular Care Plan For Your Old Hardwood Floors Is Needed

After you’ve completed all of the methods for cleaning hardwood floors, make a strategy to clean them regularly in the future. This way you’ll be able to extend the life of your floor and preserve its natural beauty.

Follow the instructions the below to maintain your flooring:

  • Purchase a high-quality doormat to avoid a slew of potential issues and hours spent cleaning your flooring.
  • Vacuum your floors at least twice a week.
  • Mop your floors 2 or 3 times per month.
  • If you polished your flooring, do repeat so every three to four months.

High-traffic spaces, such as entryways, dining rooms, and kitchens, require extra consideration. If you don’t have time to take care of your entire house daily, make sure you pay attention to these areas.

Additionally, if you have stains on your hardwood floors, you may find my tutorial on how to clean white and dark stains from hardwood floors helpful.

Related Questions

How to Clean 100-Year-Old Wood Floors?

The best way to clean 100-year-old wood floors is by using cleaners that are specially designed for hardwood floors. You can use a variety of cleaners such as Bona, Bruce, and Rejuvenate.

What Can I Use to Make My Hardwood Floors Shine?

There are a few things that you can use to make your hardwood floors shine such as polishers, cleaners, and oils. Bona, Weiman, Bruce and Rejuvenate offer a wide range of products that can help you achieve the desired results.

Is Vinegar Safe on Wood Floors?

Although vinegar is acidic in nature and hardwood floors need solutions that are ph neutral. However, vinegar when diluted with water will reduce the acidity levels to a great extent. Hence, making it a suitable solution. If your floors are in bad condition then I do not recommend this method.

Is Murphy’s Oil Soap Good for Wood Floors?

Murphy’s Oil Soap is a gentle cleanser that can be used on wood floors. You have to mix it with water and make a cleaning solution. Remember to always test it in an unnoticeable area such as behind the door first and then proceed with the rest of the floor.

Is Rejuvenate Good for Hardwood Floors?

Yes, Rejuvenate is good for hardwood floors and quite popular too. It is basically, the best product in the market and does a great job in cleaning and restoring the shine of your floors.

How to Disinfect Hardwood Floors?

If you have kids or pets at home, chances are your floors need to be disinfected more often than usual. The best way to disinfect hardwood floors is by using a solution of water and vinegar. For both these solutions, you can use the same cleaning methods as we discussed earlier in this post.