Cleaning hardwood floors

I have tried a Swiffer, a Bona, straight vinegar, orange cleaner, and a steam mop. I always get a residue on my hardwood floors. It is so bad that I'm actually considering Pergo or carpet! I'm tired of spending my money on products that do not work. Does anyone know definitively what cleans hardwood floors with no residue? I'm desperate!
  13 answers
  • Dee W Dee W on Apr 28, 2013
    HI Tracy, I am sorry you are having such a hard time with your floors. I have natural hardwood floors with a polyurethane finish and they are very easy to care for. Do you know what type of finish is on your floors-it may make a difference in how you clean them? But really I just Swiffer everyday and spray with plain water once a week and wipe with a cloth diaper to dry them. Once a month or so I will use a gallon of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle and dry, and at least once a year I use Milsek Oil to freshen them up.
  • Dee brandvig Dee brandvig on Apr 28, 2013 the first link is a suggestion from pinterest that I have heard really works...this is just plain black tea (usually labelled as 'orange pekoe')...the second link is the address where i searched for "cleaning hardwood floors" on might want to read the suggestions there...lots to choose from...
  • Helen Brown Helen Brown on Apr 28, 2013
    I'm in the same situation as you hardwood floors always look dingy. I think what I'm going to have to do is get them sanded down, re-stained and then have a good polyurethane finish put on them. I'm not looking forward to it....a friend had this done and she had to stay with friends for over a week until the smell was gone. Good luck with your floors!
  • Shutterman Shutterman on Apr 29, 2013
    I really feel sorry for the situation you suffered and spenda lot of money on using different products. I think you should try mopping withwhite vinegar and warm water, it works great on real wood floor. It will notdegrade the clear polyurethane finish and even will not leave a residue and is safefor kid and pet.
  • Elyse Elyse on Apr 29, 2013
    i use swiffer first & then while it is still damp take a spray bottle of water & mist over the floors with the water & then dry with a soft towel
  • Jaime C Jaime C on Apr 29, 2013
    Vinegar and hot water (not straight though) or ammonia and hot water, neither will leave a residue. I've always washed my floors by hand and I had laminate flooring put in a few years ago and tried using a swiffer and it looked awful same w/Bona so I just went back to washing them the old fashioned way. The hard thing is that once you have a residue it will take some time to get it up so just be patient. You may have to wash a few times before you see a change.
  • i have always had good luck with straight up warm water, or water and vinegar. i dont use mop n glow type of cleaners b/c i have in the past and always got a residue. do you think the problem could possibly be your finish on your floor? maybe it needs to be sanded and reapplied. If someone before you put something bad on it, it may have permanently dulled it therefore no matter what you do it will never look right. ??????
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Apr 30, 2013
    You need to know what it's sealed with first. Take your finger nail and scrape it on the floor see if you can scrape up anything. If you can its finished with wax. (Paste wax). If you can't it is probably sealed with polyurethane, urethane, oil, Varnish, or lacquer. You need to know what kind of wood floors you have are they hard wood, engineered, then there are exotics and they require different care. I am going to be the most unpopular person in here but when you use vinegar on your floors you are damaging them. If grandma used vinegar she also used paste wax to seal her floors several times a year. So unless your sealing your wood flooring several times a year then your damaging your wood flooring. You are cleaning the sealer on the floor not the wood itself. The sealer is protecting your floors, when you damage the sealer then you create damage to your floors and they are no longer protected,when the finish becomes cloudy, etched. You can't undo it they have to be Re-finished. If you use vinegar on engineered wood flooring and damage the surface it usually can't be Re-finished even high quality engineered flooring has to taken up and replaced. Use a micro fiber mop. And one reader suggested using water in a spray bottle. Keep the floor clean and wipe up spills. Don't use a beater bar on the vacuum. You can spray the mop with the water never directly to the floor. And mop, then dry. When mop is dirty change mop pads. If it is really dirty then use a few drops of dish soap in a bucket with water. Roll your micro fiber pads and put into soak. Squeeze as much water out as you can and mop. The important thing is to dry your floors. Water is the enemy. So dry and dry again, don't place rugs down until your floor is really dry. If you have used a steamer on your floors it is forcing hot water into the wood and it damages them. If they are exotic wood flooring then the manufactories suggested just warm water and drying them. I have a cleaning business before I clean anything in a customers house I go to the manufactories guidelines and see how to clean their surfaces. It's easy to do even if you don't know the manufactories are. Installation and cleaning guidelines and the product. I don't know if you have steamed off the finish and created damage, used a product that has created damage or have a film on your wood floors. They even could be sealed with wax and that could be why they look so filmy. But it's probably the way you have cleaned them. And if you have pergola put down you still need to know how to clean it because it also damages if you don't clean it right. It would be worth it to have the floors refinished if it is a damaged surface.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Apr 30, 2013
    PS. Some of the cleaning recipes on here are good, most are damaging. Before you make your own cleaners, try something someone suggests go to the manufactories guidelines. I almost choke when I see some of them and everyone is pinning them and trying them on their surfaces. Homes are expensive to improve, and to repair and especially to have to replace flooring. Know what is best for your home. Manufactories give you green cleaning guidelines and it doesn't include mixing up a weird formula. Grandma's floors aren't today's flooring.
  • Tracy Boyle Tracy Boyle on Apr 30, 2013
    Thank you Sherrie for the detailed information. I appreciate it! My floors are poly coated, but are not engineered flooring. I bought my house from someone and I'm not sure how they cleaned the floors before me. Yes, I've used a steam mop and I've used vinegar and both have not given me the clean that I was hoping for. I do suspect that I will need to get my floors refinished at a later date. For the time being, I do not mind that the floors are not shiny, but I HATE the residue as I can see it as I walk around the house. I will try a little dish soap, warm water and a towel afterwards for drying. Thank you everyone for your help!
  • Sherrie Sherrie on May 01, 2013
    You might not have to totally refinish them. Just the polyurethane. A floor sander with a special sand paper which looks like a greenie or scrubbie and then Re-coat the polyurethane. I have to do this also. Dry Wall dust acted like sand paper and took the finish right off my dining room floors. And my floors were refinished 3 yrs. ago. I also made a big mistake.
  • Hamtil Construction LLC Hamtil Construction LLC on May 01, 2013
    Great advice @Sherrie- most average homeowners won't truly be able to recognize a waxed floor when they see it. I have worked in a couple of homes with both waxed hardwood, and poly coated floor. Makes it confusing for sure. One rule that is certain is to never ever use orange&glo, oil soap, or other wood conditioners on a wood floor. I always use only warm water, hand washed with a wrung out rag, and dry the floor behind myself with a dry cloth. On tough spots, I use windex and rinse with a damp cloth. Otherwise, I would use what the manufacturer recommends. Typically, on prefinished floor, we will supply a Bona kit. @Tracy Boyle - it is possible that you have a buildup of wax or cleaner on your poly floor. Try handwashing several times and see how it helps. Otherwise, it might be possible to have a "screen and poly" coat, but not likely if you have a real buildup issue. Screening probably would not be aggressive enough. @
  • Sherrie Sherrie on May 01, 2013
    It is confusing. There are so many different materials in new surfaces the way we use to clean has changed. Because what won't damage one will damage another one. My Mothers new floors are bamboo and they suggest warm water only. She used Bono and they streaked. Even through Bono states you can use them on Bamboo flooring. New windows especially by Pella you can't use alcohol or ammonia it has to be a window cleaner without either of these products in it because it will cause streaking and a film to build up. This is why I am grumpy about home made cleaning solutions. Some of them are very very good, most are damaging to your expensive surfaces. Since I am in the cleaning business and its my-livelihood I am always going to the manufactories specifications to find out how to clean a surface. I keep notebooks for each customer and business we service. I also keep one in my home for my surfaces.
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