How To Clean Wood Floors With Vinegar

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There are a lot of commercial floor cleaners out there, but sometimes the best product is one you already have in your pantry or store cupboard. Yes, we’re talking about vinegar, the not-so-secret ingredient for many household cleaning tasks. You can use this acidic liquid to create a sparkling finish on a number of surfaces in your home.

Here’s how to clean wood floors with vinegar, according to experts.

Get Prepped

Before you start with the vinegar, it’s important to prep your floor. Jennifer Gregory, the brand manager of Molly Maid, told Real Simple that the first step is to vacuum. “It is best to establish a weekly routine of vacuuming your floors, especially high-traffic areas like hallways,” she said. Another good habit is to check the underside of your vacuum cleaner before every use, just to make sure there’s no debris that could scratch your wood floor.

Better Homes & Gardens recommends doing a patch test on your floor in an inconspicuous place before using vinegar to clean it for the first time.

Woman walking barefoot on hard wood floor
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Make Sure You’ve Got The Right Vinegar

Vinegar comes in many varieties. For cleaning your wood floors, you want white vinegar. You can also get cleaning vinegar, which tends to have a higher concentration of acid than the regular sort. But if you don’t have either of these, apple cider vinegar works, too. Just keep the balsamic and red wine vinegar for cooking.

It’s also important to have the right type of mop. Better Homes & Gardens recommends one with a microfiber head, as this material is designed to trap dust and grime.

Bottle of white vinegar for cleaning floors
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How To Clean Wood Floors With Vinegar

The cleaning process itself couldn’t be easier. Better Homes & Gardens recommends adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to a gallon of lukewarm water. Then drop a sponge or rag mop in the mixture, wring it until it’s almost dry (it should feel damp to the touch), and mop your floor. Always pay attention so you don’t have any standing water on the floor.

Gregory suggests using an “S” motion with your mop, making sure to lead with the same side each time to pick up all dirt and debris. Every time you move to a new room, replace the dirty solution.

When you’re finished cleaning with the vinegar-and-water mixture, rinse the whole floor with a clean map, wiping up all excess liquid as you go.

When you’ve finished, you could use a floor polish or wax to achieve a high shine — but this is optional!

Other Natural Alternatives For Cleaning Wood Floors

If you don’t have vinegar, or would like to try other natural floor cleaning options, you might consider lemon essential oil, which will add a pleasant, fresh scent and cut through any grease. It’s also a good choice if you have pets, as it’s a great natural disinfectant.

Castile soap is also a popular choice. It smells good (many brands have different scent options, such as lavender and peppermint), and when you know how to clean wood floors with vinegar, you simply have to tweak the process slightly. Real Simple recommends mixing 1/8 to 1/4 cup of Castile soap to a bucket of water (hot this time, not lukewarm) and mopping as per the directions above. You don’t need to rinse with Castile soap, but it’s probably best not to use it on waxed floors as there’s a risk of removing the wax.