How To Clean Old Hardwood Floors
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How To Clean Old Hardwood Floors More Accessible 2024

Old Hardwood Floors Need Care
Old hardwood floors need good care and cleaning to keep them spotless.

Mastering how to clean old hardwood floors will help you no longer worry about the unattractive look of old hardwood floors. You can remove dirt and stubborn stains from hardwood floors and bring a clean and shiny finish to them.

To clean old hardwood floors effectively and correctly, you need to refer to the wonderful processes and methods that will appear in this article. The ways that I bring to you are practical for you when cleaning the floor while saving time and money.

Why Do You Need To Clean Old Hardwood Floors?

Clean Old Hardwood Floors
Your hardwood floor can be attacked by dust, stains, and scratches.

Regular and proper cleaning of old hardwood floors is exceptionally essential to prolong the life of the floor. What are the reasons why you should consider cleaning old hardwood floors?

  • Dust and stains that accumulate day by day will cause a layer of dirt on the floor’s surface. In addition, if dirt is not removed regularly, it can cause floor scratches.
  • Water and food spilled on the floor when not cleaned will leave dark stains on the surface of the old hardwood floor. This will reduce the aesthetics of your floor.
  • You need to clean to remove scratches caused by furniture, pet claws, and sharp objects. Timely cleaning and removal will help bring back the shine to the floor.
  • You should clean and refinish old hardwood floors to seal holes and scratches in the floor and bring back the shine and beauty.

How To Clean Old Hardwood Naturally?

There are many fantastic and straightforward methods you can apply to remove dust, stains, and scratches out of the old hardwood floors. I hope that the techniques below will naturally help you get a shiny back to your old hardwood floor.

Sweep And Remove Dust Before Cleaning

Sweep And Remove Dust
You should sweep the old hardwood floor with a broom regularly.

Whatever cleaning method you use, the first thing you need to do is sweep the floor to remove dust from the floor’s surface. When doing this step, you can use a soft broom and a vacuum cleaner.

This step is pretty simple when you just need to sweep and vacuum like how you clean the floor every day. However, you should be careful during work to avoid scratching and damaging the floor.

Methods To Remove All Stains From Hardwood Floors

After preparing a clean floor surface, you will identify the stains on the old hardwood floor to apply unique methods to remove them. You can perform these methods quickly and simply with my specific instructions.

Method 1: Using Diluted Vinegar

Using Diluted Vinegar
Remove all stains and dirt from the old hardwood floor naturally with vinegar.

Vinegar is a liquid with an acidic concentration of about 5 to 8 percent (1). It is often diluted with water to reduce the acid concentration to clean old hardwood floors effectively. It helps to remove stains and grime from the floor.

What you need

  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ bucket warm water
  • 6 drops of essential oil (olive or lavender oil)
  • A mop
  • Clean cloth


Step 1: Pour white vinegar into a bucket of warm water.

Step 2: Add essential oil to the mixture to create a natural fragrance and stir well.

Step 3: Dip the mop in the cleaning solution.

Step 4: Wring all excess water out of the mop. You should remove as much water as possible to avoid overflowing after mopping.

Step 5: Mop the entire floor to remove surface stains.

Step 6: When the water is dirty, you need to empty it, replace it with new water, and repeat the above process until the floor is immaculate.

Step 7: Wipe the entire floor with a clean towel to remove excess water.

Note: I recommend cleaning old hardwood floors only with vinegar that has been diluted with water.

Make your hardwood floor cleaner with white vinegar.

Watch this video: Clean Buildup on Wood Floors

Method 2: Combine Castile Soap And Water

Combine Castile Soap And Water
Castile soap is a perfect and safe choice to keep your floor clean.

Castile soap is a suitable choice for cleaning old hardwood floors. It is a combination of vegetable oils and other organic plant extracts. You can remove stubborn stains and scratches from hardwood flooring.

What you need

  • A teaspoon of castile soap
  • 4 cups lukewarm water
  • Essential oil (optional)
  • A mop
  • Clean cloth


Step 1: Combine castile soap and lukewarm water to form a hygienic mixture.

Step 2: You can add a little essential oil to create a fragrance.

Step 3: Dip the mop in the cleaning mixture and mop the entire floor for cleaning.

Step 4: Continue repeating the process until the floor is clean.

Step 5: Wipe the floor again with a clean, dry cloth to remove the excess clean mixture.

You can combine liquid castile soap with vinegar instead of water to clean old hardwood.

Watch this video: DIY Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Method 3: Commercial Cleaners – Bona And Bruce

Bona and Bruce are two excellent and well-known commercial cleaning options for hardwood floors. They will remove scratches and stains from the surface of old hardwood floors effectively without causing damage to the floor.

Bona is a specialized cleaning product for waxed or oiled hardwood; it will not leave residue after cleaning. Like bona, you also will not find residue film after cleaning with Bruce. Also, it leaves a light fragrance after use.

What you need

  • Bona or Bruce
  • A mop


Step 1: After sweeping and vacuuming the floor, spray Bona and Bruce onto the old hardwood floors.

Step 2: Use the mop to mop the floor to discard all the stains on the floor.

Step 3: You will continue until you have completed the entire room.

Get the shiny back to your old hardwood floors by using Bona.

Watch this video: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaning Products

Method 4: Take Advantage Of Ammonia-Free Cleaner

Another technique that has the same way of cleaning as Bona and Bruce is ammonia-free cleaner. When using ammonia-free cleaner, you will get a clean old hardwood floor without any adverse effects on your floor.

Method 5: Baking Soda And Vinegar

Baking Soda And Vinegar Remove Stains
When cleaning old hardwood floors, you should not ignore baking soda.

When old hardwood floors encounter scratches or stubborn stains, you can use baking soda to make them disappear and bring back a clean hardwood floor. This option is the combination of sodium cation and bicarbonate anion (2).

What you need

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • A sponge
  • Clean cloth


Step 1: Prepare a cleaning mixture with 1 part vinegar and 1 part baking soda.

Step 2: Put the cleaning mixture on the stains with a sponge.

Step 3: Wait until the mixture is dry.

Step 4: Use a clean cloth to wipe the mixture off the stains to obliterate the stains.

Note: You can use a mixture of olive oil, a cup of vodka, 15 drops of essential oil, and a microfiber mop to buff the floor after cleaning with baking soda to bring back the shine.

Method 6: Applying Diluted Lemon Juice

Applying Diluted Lemon Juice
A little bit of lemon juice and water can make your old hardwood floor clean.

The acidic content of lemon juice will help in cleaning hardwood floors. It will help remove stubborn stains on the floor quickly. You should combine lemon juice with a bit of olive oil to help the floor shine.

What you need

  • Warm water
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Bucket
  • Cotton mop
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Clean cloth


Step 1: Prepare a bucket of excellent cleaning solution with warm water, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Step 2: Dip cotton mop in a bucket of water.

Step 3: Wring the entire water out of the mop. If you want to control the amount of water and not leave a lot of excess water on the floor, you should use a spray bottle to spray the cleaning solution and wipe it with a cloth mop.

Step 4: Mop the entire floor to remove stains.

Step 5: Wipe the floor with a clean cloth.

Method 7: Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Using Hydrogen Peroxide Get Dirty
You will not need to worry about the dirty old hardwood floor after using hydrogen peroxide.

Old hardwood floors can get dirty with pet urine, and fix this problem, and you will need hydrogen peroxide. This is the finishing touch of stubborn stains on the surface of hardwood floors.

What you need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rags
  • Clean cloth


Step 1: Apply hydrogen peroxide to stains on old hardwood floors.

Step 2: Soak rags in hydrogen peroxide.

Step 3: Cover stains with rags.

Step 4: Wait overnight.

Step 5: Use a clean cloth to wipe off all the hydrogen peroxide on the floor to sand and refinish.

Note: If the stain on the hardwood floor is light, you can dip a towel with hydrogen peroxide and cover the stain for 10 minutes. Remove any remaining hydrogen peroxide from the floor.

When the stain is serious, you need to remove the subfloor to treat it because it can get dirty.

Follow the instructions to remove dark stains from the hardwood floor with hydrogen peroxide.

Watch this video: How to remove pet urine stains

Method 8: Cleaning With Black Tea

Cleaning With Black Tea
It is convenient and straightforward to clean your wood floor with black tea.

The tannic acid in black tea will help remove stains from the old hardwood floor surface and bring shine to the floor. It is an option that you can easily find and apply. You just need to follow my procedure below.

What you need

  • 4 black tea bags
  • 4 cups water
  • Cotton cloth
  • A pot


Step 1: You need to prepare black tea by boiling water.

Step 2: After the water boils, you will put the black tea bags in the pot.

Step 3: Wait for 10 to 12 minutes for the tea to dissolve into the water.

Step 4: Take the black tea bags out of the pot.

Step 5: Dip the cloth in the black tea water.

Step 6: Wipe the stains on the floor surface to clean the floor.

Polish The Floor To Make It Shine

The Polisher Make It Shinier
After cleaning, you can apply a layer of the polisher to make it shinier.

After applying the above cleaning measures, there will be stubborn scratches or stains that have not been resolved. You need to polish the old hardwood floor to remove deep scratches on the floor as well as bring shine to the floor.

What You Need

  • Polisher
  • Mop
  • Spray bottle


Step 1: You should shake the polisher well before using it.

Step 2: Put the polisher in a spray bottle for easy application.

Step 3: Spray polisher on the old hardwood floor. You can pour the polisher directly onto the floor without using a spray bottle.

Step 4: Use the mop to wipe and spread the polisher over the entire floor surface.

Step 5: Wait until the polisher is completely dry.

Grab the instructions to polish the old hardwood floor to restore it.

Watch this video: How To Restore Wood Floors

Clean Unfinished Old Hardwood Floors

You can apply the above methods to clean old hardwood floors without applying a new finish to the floor. Now, I will show you the process to clean the old hardwood floor with the refinishing process.

Remove The Old Debris With A Scraper

Remove The Old Debris With A Scraper
It is essential to use a scraper to remove old debris from hardwood flooring.

Before removing the old debris from the hardwood floor, you need to lift the carpet from the hardwood floor. To make this operation more accessible and faster, you should use a scraper.

What You Need

  • Blunt scraper
  • Clean cloth
  • Trash bag
  • Hand vacuum


Step 1: Place the blunt scraper at a 45-degree angle to the floor.

Step 2: Move gently back and forth to remove deposits or glue on the floor. You should not use too much force to avoid damaging the floor.

Step 3: Continue until the desired state is reached.

Step 4: Use a clean cloth to wipe the floor.

Step 5: Remove dust with a hand vacuum.

Sand The Old Hardwood Floor

Sand The Old Hardwood Floor
Sand the old hardwood floor with sandpaper to apply a new coat to it.

After scraping the floor, you will start sanding to smooth the floor. This process also makes it quick and straightforward to remove deep scratches on the floor surface. You can use an electric sander to work faster.

What You Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Clean cloth
  • Gloves
  • Foxtail
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Dustpan


Step 1: Wear gloves before working.

Step 2: Place the coarsest grit sandpaper on the floor surface.

Step 3: Apply light pressure on the sandpaper and scrub the floor.

Step 4: Continue changing the sandpaper for sanding until the finest grit sandpaper is used.

Step 5: After sanding, remove dust with a vacuum cleaner.

Step 6: Use a cloth to wipe the entire floor.

Step 7: Remove large debris with foxtail and dustpan.

Step 8: Continue the above process until you have raw wood.

Handle Unfinished Hardwood Floor

Mineral Oil Shine To Hardwood Floors
Mineral oil will clean and get the shiny back to your old hardwood floors.

You will treat the unfinished hardwood floor to prevent wear and damage. You should use mineral oil to bring shine to your old hardwood floors. However, you should not use mineral oil containing polyurethane finish to avoid damaging the floor.

What You Need

  • Clean cloth
  • Broom
  • Mineral oil
  • Foxtail
  • Dustpan


Step 1: Use a broom to sweep the floor before working.

Step 2: Spray some mineral oil on a clean cloth.

Step 3: Scrub the floor in the direction of the grain to remove stains.

Step 4: Continue polishing with a clean towel to bring out a warm and rich color to the wood.

Step 5: Wipe all excess mineral oil on the floor.

Note: You can make polish at home by combining 2 teaspoons olive oil, 2 cups warm water, 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar, and a little lemongrass essential oil to polish your old hardwood floor.

Follow the directions to maintain your unfinished wood flooring.

Watch this video: How to Maintain Unfinished Wood Flooring

How to Clean Old Hardwood Floor After Removing Carpet?

If you have old hardwood flooring after the carpet has been removed, you need to clean it to remove dirt and stains, as well as carpet glue on the surface of the floor.

What You Need

  • A soft-bristle broom
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Micro cloth
  • Concentrated hardwood cleaner


Step 1: Move all furniture away from the floor area to be cleaned.

Step 2: Use a soft-bristle broom to sweep all the dirt on the floor.

Step 3: Sand the finish of the floor.

Step 4: Use a vacuum cleaner to pick up dirt between floor planks and hard-to-reach areas.

Step 5: Use a micro cloth and concentrated hardwood cleaner to clean the floor.

Remove Carpet Glue From Old Hardwood Floor

Removing the carpet will leave a layer of carpet glue on the floor surface that you need to apply specialized cleaning measures to remove quickly and effectively.

Method 1: Freeze And Vacuum The Carpet Glue

Freeze And Vacuum The Carpet Glue
Prepare a vacuum cleaner to remove the carpet glue after freezing.

The first method that you can apply in this case is to freeze and suck the carpet glue from the floor with a few simple tools and operations.

What you need

  • Dry ice
  • A pan
  • Scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Elbow grease
  • Vacuum cleaner


Step 1: Put dry ice in a pan.

Step 2: Place the pan on top of the glue.

Step 3: Wait 10 minutes for the glue to harden.

Step 4: Remove glue with a scraper.

Step 5: Use sandpaper to sand the floor and apply some elbow grease.

Step 6: Remove all debris with a vacuum cleaner.

Method 2: Sand To Remove Glue

Sand The Carpet Glue
It is important to sand the carpet glue with sandpaper if you want to remove it.

If the above method does not give the desired effect, you should try sanding the carpet glue for deep cleaning. The operation is pretty simple and does not take much time when applying this method.

What you need

  • Sandpaper
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Damp cloth


Step 1: Sand the floor with coarse-grit sandpaper.

Step 2: Continue using finer grit sandpaper.

Step 3: Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt.

Step 4: Wipe the floor with a damp cloth

Method 3: Remove By Heating And Wiping Off The Glue

Use A Dryer To Heat The Glue
It is perfect to use a blow dryer to heat the glue before removing it.

Another effective method for cleaning carpet glue is to heat it. This method will soften the glue and make it easier to scrape it off the floor.

What you need

  • A blow dryer
  • A scraper
  • A cloth


Step 1: Heat the glue with a blow dryer. If you do not have a blow dryer, you can use a heat gun or hot water.

Step 2: When the glue becomes soft, you will remove it with a scraper.

Step 3: Use a cloth to wipe it off.

Method 4: Use Solvent To Remove It

You can use solvent to remove carpet glue quickly and easily. I recommend using Walker Tape Adhesive Solvent in this case. Before using, you should put a little solvent on the floor to check to avoid damage to the floor.

The Way To Clean Old Hardwood Floors That Have Been Under Carpeting

Rubbing Alcohol Clean The Hardwood Floor
Rubbing alcohol can help get rid of remaining stains on the old hardwood floor.

Detecting and cleaning stains on old hardwood floors that have been under the carpet for a long time is not easy, so if you do, it is a success. However, you can entirely bring shine and brightness to the floor by following these steps.

What You Need

  • Hardwood floor cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cloth
  • Wax or polish


Step 1: Determine the type of finish on the surface of the floor by placing a few drops of water on the floor and waiting for them to dry. When white spots appear, the floor is finished with wax, and if nothing happens, it is finished with polyurethane.

Step 2: Remove staples, nails, and tackless strips from carpet installation.

Step 3: Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and debris on the floor.

Step 4: Combine water with a hardwood floor cleaner to form a cleaning solution. You should use a cleanser that is neutral or specifically designed for floor finishes.

Step 5: Use a sponge mop to dip into the mixture.

Step 6: Wring the whole water out of the mop.

Step 7: Mop the floor to remove stains.

Step 8: If you still find small stains on the floor, apply a little rubbing alcohol on the stains to remove them. In case of stubborn stains, you need to sand the floor before applying the finish.

Step 9: Apply wax or wood floor polish to the floor and buff with a cloth.

Tips To Care Old Hardwood Floor Effectively

Sweep The Old Hardwood Floor
It is perfect to sweep the old hardwood floor regularly to protect it.

You will not need to worry much about damaged old hardwood floors if you take reasonable and timely maintenance measures. You need to pay attention and apply the tips below to help prolong the life of your old hardwood floor.

Regular sweeping is a perfect way to protect your floors. You will remove dust, stains, and pet hair to prevent damage to the floor. You should use a soft-bristle broom to sweep the floor. Sweep it in the direction of the wood grain to prevent stains from sticking to the cracks.

Regular mopping will help polish the floor and remove stubborn stains. You should clean your floors monthly with cleaners labeled for hardwood floors. You should not mop the floor regularly with ammonia, undiluted vinegar, and harsh chemical products.

When mopping the floor, you should wring all the water out of the mop to avoid wetting the floor and leaving a lot of excess water. It is best to use a spray bottle to control the amount of water when cleaning the floor.

If you feel it is unnecessary, you should not sand the old hardwood floors with more than 20 years old. It is better to provide a layer of wax or buff the flooring to bring back the shine to the floor.

Water and food spills are the leading causes of flooring damage, so you need to remove them as soon as they come into contact with the floor. Mop them with a damp mop to avoid seeping into the floor, causing stubborn black stains.

Before starting the restoration experience, you should consult a specialist for appropriate treatment measures. They will tell you whether you should refinish, patch or replace the floor.

When using a vacuum cleaning, you should avoid vacuuming with brush rolls because it can damage the floor. A vacuum cleaner with a soft floor nozzle reduces scratches and damage to floors.

You can damage and degrade the floor if you use heavy tools and equipment. In particular, you should not drag them on the floor. Choose specialized cleaning products for old hardwood floors to protect the floor.

To avoid damage due to the weight of the furniture, you should use pads on the bottom of the furniture to reduce scratches, wear, and damage to the floor.

You should limit dust and water from coming into direct contact with the floor by using floor mats or placing carpets at the door to remove dust on your feet before entering the house.

Hardwood floors can easily fade when exposed to direct sunlight, so you should install curtains to control sunlight. In addition, you can place the carpet in areas where the sun shines.


Frequently asked questions about how to clean old hardwood floors will contain a lot of new knowledge and information that you may not know. Therefore, I will answer these questions to broaden your understanding.

How do you remove ingrained dirt from wood floors?

You will conduct regular sweeping and vacuuming to remove dirt from the floor surface. For ingrained dirt and grime, you should remove it with an unscented mineral spirit. This is a safe and highly effective method.

Is it safe to use Murphy’s Oil soap on old hardwood floors?

When deep cleaning old hardwood floors, you can use commercial products like Murphy’s Oil soap to remove stubborn stains without harming your floors.

How do you clean 100-year-old hardwood floors?

When cleaning old hardwood floors over 100 years old, cleaners labeled for hardwood floors are the only perfect choice. You should not use vinegar, ammonia, and cleaning products containing strong chemicals in this case.

What is the best thing to use to clean old hardwood floors?

The best options for cleaning old hardwood floors are commercial cleaning products like Bona and Murphy Oil Soap. Moreover, the combination of vinegar and warm water helps to clean the floor.

How do you restore old hardwood floors without sanding?

Recoat and screen are the best techniques to refinish old hardwood floors without sanding. You need to use a coat of polish to bring the refresher coat to the floor.

How can you make your old hardwood floor look better without refinishing it?

There are many effective methods to make your old hardwood floor look better without refinishing. You can use vinegar, lemon juice, and commercial cleaner to remove stains on the floor before polishing.

Do Not Rush To Replace Your Old Hardwood Floor

If your hardwood floor is old, you should not rush to replace it. You can apply the techniques I have shown you to clean your floors and give your old hardwood floors a cleaner, brighter, and more polished look.

You can add other helpful methods you know for cleaning floors through the comments. If someone asks you how to clean old hardwood floors, you can show them this great article. Thanks a lot!

How To Clean Old Hardwood Floors


[1]. 2022. Vinegar – Wikipedia.

[2]. 2022. Sodium bicarbonate – Wikipedia.

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones

Home Cleaning Specialist

Expertise: In-depth Knowledge of Cleaning Agents and Their Uses, Advanced Home Sanitization, Techniques Expertise in Cleaning and Maintaining, Various Floor Types, Innovations in Home Cleaning Tools

School: American College of Home Economics

Kevin Jones is a seasoned home cleaning specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. A stickler for cleanliness and organization, Kevin brings a systematic and innovative approach to home maintenance. His expertise ranges from traditional methods to modern cleaning technology, ensuring homes are not just clean but healthy environments too.

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