Reviving Old Wood Floors: Cleaning Without Refinishing

Though wood floors are easy to maintain, even a well-maintained wood floor tends to get dull and scratched over time. You might have considered refinishing the floors, but that seems like a lot of work. Luckily, there are several methods that you can use on both old and new hardwood floors to clean them without refinishing.

See Our Guides

  1. Banish Scratches: Tips and Tricks for Laminate Flooring Restoration
  2. how to make a stagger pattern for laying laminate flooring
  3. how to fix buckling in laminate floors

Why Refinish Old Wood Floor?

Refinishing old hardwood floors requires sanding the top layer and restaining and sealing. Refinishing hardwood floors is undoubtedly the best way to add shine and bring your floor back to life. However, refinishing requires extra effort, is expensive, and is not always possible.

If refinishing is impossible, you can always restore their looks by cleaning, shining, or using a restoration kit.

How to Clean Old Wood Floors Without Refinishing Them?

Restoring shine and luster to your old hardwood floors without refinishing is a simple job. Here’s how you can clean your floors without refinishing them:

Remove Dirt and Debris

First, use a wet mop to remove the dirt and debris from your floor, and for more on effective cleaning techniques, see effective floor cleaning guide.

Clean the Floors

Once you have removed the debris and dirt, deep clean your floor with any commercial floor cleaner, similar to the advice given in how to clean and maintain laminate floors best practices and products or a homemade floor cleaner. Keep reading to find different methods of preparing old hardwood floor cleaning solutions at home.

Apply Restorer

After cleaning wood floors to your satisfaction, it’s time to apply a restorer to fill in the small scratches and chipped areas. A restorer restores not only the shine but also the floor’s strength. This will repair your floor without refinishing, so you can have a brand new floor without sanding and staining it.

Learn how to clean laminate floors without causing damage

Regular Cleaning

When your wood floors have been cleaned, you will want to keep them like that for as long as possible. Cleaning them regularly will help you achieve this goal. 

Sweep your floors with a spray mop every two days, depending on how dirty it gets. Then use a cleaner once a month to remove the stubborn dirt.

Read how to clean and maintain laminate floors best practices and products

How to Clean Old Wood Floors?

Water and Vinegar

Vinegar is acidic, which breaks down the grime, dirt, and grease. You can choose between white vinegar or cleaning vinegar but avoid balsamic vinegar since they are detrimental to the wood floors.

Cleaning the hardwood floor using water and vinegar has been controversial. However, the proportion of water and vinegar is a more important factor in keeping the floor safe. As vinegar is highly acidic, it can damage your floors. Therefore, you must dilute it with water for cleaning floors. The water and vinegar should be mixed in a ratio of 1:10. If the vinegar is too much, it can damage the floor. 

Make sure you sweep or vacuum the floors before applying any cleaning solution. Damp a cloth in the solution of water and vinegar and rub it on the floor gently. Be careful not to dampen the cloth too much. Also, change the solution when it gets too dirty.

If you are bothered by the weird smell of regular/white vinegar, try using cleaning vinegar; they do not smell bad.

Water and vinegar are natural, effective, and affordable solutions. It works great against mildew and mold. However, even though this method is effective and easy, keep in mind that acid and water can damage your hardwood floors, so do not add vinegar more than the recommended amount.

Baking Soda

Baking soda may not clean the floors but removes scuff marks from the edges, making it useful for removing dirt from the floors. The scuff marks are usually caused by shoes, heavy furniture, or pets. 

Sprinkle some baking soda on a damped sponge and gently rub the floors with it. You can use vinegar, water, and olive oil with it to add shine to your floor.

Be careful not to apply too much pressure to prevent your floors from getting damaged. Also, use a soft sponge. You can also use baking soda to remove stains from carpets and rugs. To clean carpets, simply put some baking soda on the stain, wait for up to 30 minutes, and then vacuum the area. 

Learn Should you steam-clean hardwood flooring?

Hydrogen Peroxide

Sometimes, hardwood floors get stains that cannot be cleaned by simple mopping. Hydrogen peroxide is one of the best ways to remove these marks, especially mold stains and black spots.

But one thing you should remember is that hydrogen peroxide can lighten hardwood floors. To avoid color fading, do a spot test in an inconspicuous area.

To clean stains on the hardwood floor with peroxide, pour hydrogen peroxide on the stains and let it dry for a while. The stains will be removed when the peroxide dries. You can repeat the process until the mark is completely removed.

Water and Soap

Here is how you can make a water + soap solution to clean old hardwood floors:

  • One gallon of water
  • ¼ cup of soap

Dip the mop in the solution, wring it out on the floor, and mop it in the grain direction. Ensure you wring the excess water out of the mop before mopping to avoid leaving streaks on the floor.

After mopping, wipe the floor with a dry, clean cloth to remove any leftover solution. You can also wipe the floor with dry Swiffer pads after mopping the floor with a water-soap solution.

This solution is free from harsh chemicals and more eco-friendly than other solutions. Moreover, it is easy and budget-friendly to prepare. However, there are a few things you need to be careful about. For example, if you apply water in excess, it can seep under the hardwood floors and damage it. Moreover, it may not work well on stubborn stains.

Explore more about the laminate floor repair guide

Water and Lemon Juice

Lemon juice contains vitamin C and the same acid found in vinegar, making it just as effective as vinegar. Like vinegar, lemon juice removes dirt, grease, or grime while disinfecting your floors. To clean your floor with lemon juice, ensure the dirt and dust have been cleaned first.

Diluting lemon juice with water makes it a good cleaning solution. Ensure you wring out the damp mop thoroughly after dipping it in the solution, as too much lemon juice can damage your floors.

To make a water and lemon juice solution, squeeze a lemon juice and mix it with one gallon of water. Mop the floors with the solution in the direction of the grain. Once done mopping, wipe the floor with a dry Swiffer pad or a clean microfibre rug.

This solution imparts a refreshing smell to your floor. It is quick, easy, and cheap to prepare and you can prepare it at home. It naturally disinfects your floors, making them safe for the residents.

If you want to add shine to your old hardwood floor, you can add a few drops of olive oil to this solution. Your floors will have their luster restored.


Several brands make cleaning solutions for bare wood floors. One of the famous cleaning solutions is Windex. It is a common misconception that Windex is only good for cleaning windows (maybe because of the name), but Windex is a universal hardwood floor cleaner; you can clean almost anything, including hardwood floors.

As ammonia can damage and rot bare wood floors, it also comes in an ammonia-free version. It works better on wooden floors than any other hardwood floor cleaner.

Steam Mop

A steam mop or Swiffer works great to clean hardwood floors. It is the safest method to clean wooden floors. The steam mop dries the floor fast as soon as you clean it. However, some hardwood brands void your warranty due to using a steam mop. 

Though not all models of steam mop are specifically designed to clean hardwood floors, you can find one that is.

How to Use a Steam Mop?

  • Keep the steam mop moving while mopping the floor. Moving while mopping will prevent steam from accumulating on the floor, damaging it.
  • After mopping the floors, do not store the mop directly on the surface as residual water dripping from the floor can damage the floor. You can store the mop in a basin.

It cleans the floors pretty well, but it may be a bit pricey.

Weiman Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Weiman is specially designed for hardwood floor finishes removing dirt, grease, and grime. You can even use it on stone tiles and hardwood vinyl laminate.

It is infused with micro-filling technology that fills in the existing scratches while preventing new ones. It removes grime and dirt from the floors, making them look shiny without streaks. With this cleaner, you don’t have to worry about wax build-up.

Weiman also offers wood floor polish and restoration, which is a great choice if you want to shine and polish your floors to make them look new again.

Rejuvenate High-Performance Hardwood Floor Clean

Rejuvenate High-Performance Hardwood Floor Clean is a high-quality cleaning solution that eliminates dirt and debris. It contains ionic discharging agents that dry quickly without leaving streaks.

This brand also offers a restorer for both; a satin and gloss finish if you want to bring the desired level of shine back to the floor. The restorer has a water-based polyurethane formula that fills in scratches and holes in the wood flooring while restoring shine to it without leaving a waxy build-up.

It bonds the existing floor’s finish and protects it from regular wear-n-tear. It seals the floor, which helps it resist damage to the floor due to spills and stains. 

Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Bona is another brand of one of the most used floor cleaners for hardwood floors. Bona hardwood floor is one of the best products by this brand. There are no special instructions for it; you just spray and mop. You don’t need to dilute the cleaning solution with water.

Some people have complained about floor cloudiness, but it’s not common. But, Bona has also offered a solution to get rid of them.

The cleaning solution has a neutral pH and low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which means it will not damage the floors.

How to Maintain Your Wooden Floor?

Wooden floors are easy to maintain and clean; however, they still need some cleaning and maintenance from time to time. You can do small things like putting a doormat at the door or a rug in the high-traffic area to keep the dust away from your floors.

Polishing the floor after you have swept, mopped, and removed the stains, shines your old wood floors very well.

DIY Polish

You can either buy a commercial hardwood floor polish or make it home. Here is how you can make polish at home:

  • 2 Cups of Warm Water
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of White Distilled Vinegar

Make a solution of these ingredients and use a microfiber mop or cloth to mop the floor.

Polishing the Wood Floors

If you haven’t obtained the desired cleaning results, polishing will make a difference. Polishing works well for holes and scratches that need to be filled. Also, it enhances the ambiance and looks of the floor.

Bona offers a polish for hardwood floors that you can simply pour on the floor and mop. Wait a while to let it dry, and all the holes and scratches in the floor will be filled. You will have to mop the floor well to avoid a buildup.

Your floors will need polishing every 2-3 months as it is a continuous process that needs to be done consistently.

Here are some tips for a sparkling, clean floor:

  • Mop the floors regularly to keep them clean and strong.
  • Clean the hardwood floor with a cleaning solution at least once a month to maintain its shine.
  • Wipe up the spills as soon as they occur to avoid stains and scuff marks.