How to Clean Heavily Soiled Hardwood Floors (A Do-It-Yourself Approach)

Hardwood floors are known for the beauty, class, and elegance they add to rooms. They also keep your homes warm in winters and provide the warmth needed for you to get inside the home. Cleaning heavily soiled hardwood floors require the appropriate materials and the right cleaning procedures.

Regular cleaning is sure the best means of keeping your hardwood floors neat. While this is required, be careful not to expose your hardwood floor to too much water. Cleaning heavily soiled hardwood floors can be done in several natural ways. The use of vinegar, Murphy’s oil, buffer, and mineral spirit in cleaning heavily soiled hardwood floors have been covered in this article.

The following procedures explain how to clean heavily soiled hardwood floors.

  1. Using Vinegar

For this technique to be effective, get some materials ready which include a sweeper with a soft brush, a mop, warm water, and white vinegar.

Firstly, before you start cleaning the heavily soiled hardwood floors, sweep your floor with a soft bristle brush to get rid of dirt and dust on the wood surface. It is crucial to carry out this since hardwood floors get easily stained when exposed to dirt and moisture. Ensure to thoroughly sweep the floor until it is without particles you can feel under your feet while standing barefoot.

While sweeping, there is no need to rush, make sure you reach out for all corners that dirt could have accumulated on including surfaces under the furniture. Getting rid of those dirt, dust, and food debris is one of the effective ways to maintain the classy look of your hardwood floor.

The next step is to mix the vinegar with warm water and make sure it is not saturated. Transfer 4 cups of vinegar into a bucket filled with ¾ warm water and stir well. Coldwater can also be used but warm water is more effective in dislodging stains and grime on the wood floor surface.

While you are mixing the vinegar and warm water, avoid adding hot water too often so the mixture won’t get too hot, gently stir and allow the mixture to cool. Be sure to get a quality sponge mop to use for your cleaning process.

Dip your mop into the mixture and make sure to wring well enough before applying it to the floor. Avoid cleaning just the visible parts on your hand wood floor while cleaning. All those less-trafficked areas are also prone to stain especially when the floor is exposed to moisture.

So, it is important to take your time and clean all surfaces of the wood floor with your mop and vinegar mixture. When you are done mopping, allow it to dry. Sponge mop rarely releases excess water on the floor surface so it shouldn’t require a lot of time to get dry.

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2. Using Murphy’s Oil Soap

This cleaning material is very effective for wood floors with high traffic. Get these materials ready; a spin mop, a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush, warm water, and murphy’s oil soap. Areas that get frequently walked upon like the living room, bedroom, and kitchen require the vacuum cleaner’s power and precision.

A vacuum cleaner will do a better job compared to a soft bristle brush, in eliminating pet or human hair, debris, and dust. Do not rush the vacuuming process, so be sure to cover all the less obvious areas as well. Traffic areas tend to harbor a high accumulation of dust and dirt, so it is imperative to vacuum those areas thoroughly to prevent ruining your hardwood floor.

When you are done vacuuming, get your murphy’s oil soap. Pour 4 to 5 cups of Murphy’s oil soap into a bucket filled with ¾ of warm water and gently mix it. Murphy’s oil soap is good at maintaining the glossy look of your hardwood floor. After stirring well, dip a spin mop in the solution.

Most spin mops come with a wringer that helps you squeeze out 95 percent of the water. Mop well until you are cool with the look of your hardwood floor.


3. Using Mineral spirit and a single-disc buffer

Screening the wood floor with a buffer has been proven to be one of the most effective means of removing the unsightly stains and patches on the hardwood floor. Get these materials ready, a polishing pad, a cleaning pad, a single-disc buffer, and mineral salt. Use a high-quality microfiber dust mop to remove all the dust and debris on your wood floor surface. As you have learned before, never rush the sweeping process as it is very essential to the following steps.

It is important to use high-quality disc buffer meant for floor cleaning and capable of living them clean. Before making use of the buffer, spray the floor with the mineral spirits and place a cleaning pad. Operate the buffer and use it to screen the entire wood floor surface to remove stains and dirt.

After this process, use your dust mop to remove the fine dust that could have been generated by the buffer. This shouldn’t require a lot of time since you will be focusing on only the areas the buffer was used on. When you are done removing dust, place the polishing pad on the buffer and apply it over the whole wood surface again.

You can repeat this process until all visible scratches are eliminated. You have your clean-looking and shiny hardwood floor once again. In case of any crayon marks, you can apply toothpaste to the affected areas and wipe with a clean, soft microfiber towel.

Caution: Be aware that using a buffer on your wood floor every day isn’t recommended. It should only be used when you need to deal with stubborn stains.

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How to clean old hardwood floor

This section addresses cleaning heavily soiled hardwood floors while maintaining a good finish. Your hardwood floors will be durable as they should be if you follow the right cleaning routine and use the right materials.

  1. Sweeping your floor daily is necessary

The effect of sweeping your floor every day is a powerful means of maintaining the appearance of your hardwood floor. Neglecting the daily sweeping recommendation will only lead to a quick accumulation of dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris. Sweep in a systematic way of moving from one area of the wood floor to another until you are able to cover the whole floor. You can use a foxtail to reach every nook and gap.


2. Vacuum your floor every week

While sweeping might not get rid of all the dirt, vacuuming the floor will help in removing the extra dust and debris. Ensure the vacuum cleaner you are using has a soft brush attachment suitable for deep cleaning a worn hardwood floor. For a consistent cleaning process, vacuum your wood floor every week. Pay special attention to areas out of reach for the broom.


3. Clean with vinegar

If you got spills and stains on your hardwood floor, you need a cleaner that won’t damage the finish. The natural cleaning ability of the vinegar is useful for eliminating stains on the wood floors. Get a spray bottle and fill it with vinegar, mix with warm water and essential oil. Spray on the stains and spills on the floor while paying attention to high-traffic areas.

Let the solution dislodge the particles on the floor for at least 5 minutes before you start mopping. Make sure to wring the mop well to eliminate excess water before you mop. Use this solution to eliminate molds on the wood surfaces to disinfect them as well as remove the unwelcome fungus.


4. Use a commercial hardwood floor cleaner

Bona is a popular hardwood cleaner most homeowners use. You can make use of this or other available commercial hardwood floor cleaner. They are effective at both cleaning and polishing hardwood floors. Use a floor cleaner every 1 or 2 months to put your floors in good condition. Ensure to remove all furniture from the floor before applying the hardwood floor cleaner.  To prevent watermarks, make sure to dry the floor completely after cleaning before replacing the furniture.

Also Read: Top 6 Best Sander for removing paint from wood 

Materials to avoid.

i. Vinegar and Ammonia

The acidity nature of both solutions can destroy the appearance of the hardwood floor. Both the shine and its rich color will fade away and remain stained.

ii. Wax

Wax is oily and sticky so it is capable of attracting dirt and dust which will cleaning more difficult. The grime tends to prove more stubborn to dislodge.

Conclusion: Cleaning Heavily Soiled Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are quite easy to maintain if the necessary precautions and maintenance guides are being followed. Light stains can be gotten rid of with vinegar, murphy’s oil soap, or mineral spirits. A microfiber mop or spin mop are recommended because hardwood floors aren’t friends with water.

Avoid using items that could cause scratches near your hardwood floor.  Make sure to clean spills immediately since regular cleaning helps keep hardwood floors neat and in good shape.