Homemade wood floor cleaner that shines and removes grime

A Wood Floor Lover’s Guide to Easy Cleaning

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Anyone else thrilled that carpet’s on the way out? I know they may sound intimidating to care for, but cleaning hardwood floors is easier than you think.

So, read on for my simple routine and homemade wood floor cleaner, plus tips to deal with marks and stains.

How Often to Clean Wood Floors


Vacuum your floors with the hard floor setting at least once a week. In between times, use a dust mop 2-3 times a week to clean up any debris. If you’ve got a bunch of pets or kids, you might want to do it daily in high-traffic areas. (I make it part of my daily cleaning routine.)

It sounds like a lot, I know, but dirt and dust are abrasive and grinding them underfoot will make your wood floors dull before their time.


Wood and water aren’t the best combination, but you also don’t want to live with grimy floors. So, when you mop, use as little water as possible.

In fact, using a spray bottle is a great way to go: it’s convenient, and you can always keep some on hand. Try it with my homemade wood floor cleaning spray below.

Spot Treating Stains

Even with precautions, spills and stains happen. To keep your wood floors looking their best, it’s important to treat messes right away. Here’s how:

  • Scuffs: Rub them away with a tennis ball or felt cloth.
  • Black marks: Use a pink eraser or the fuzzy part of a clean tennis ball.
  • Glue or tape residue: Apply a bit of oil, wait a few minutes, then wipe with a damp microfiber cloth. Finish with hardwood floor cleaner.
  • Grease: Use a sparing amount of warm, soapy water then wipe the area clean with a fresh, damp cloth. Buff dry with a soft towel.

Deep Cleaning

Every 2-3 months, it’s essential to deep clean your hardwood floors. That involves moving furniture to clean beneath and behind it. Also, roll up area rugs and vacuum underneath to remove any trapped grit.

Then, vacuum and then mop your wood floor wall-to-wall, and don’t forget to address those corners with an old toothbrush to get rid of stubborn grime.

Protecting Your Wood Floors

Protecting your wood floors is key to keeping them beautiful. In addition to immediately cleaning up spills, there are some other steps you can take to keep your wood floors clean and gleaming:

  • Use doormats at all entrances to catch dirt.
  • Enforce a no-shoe policy indoors (especially heels and cleats).
  • Attach felt pads to furniture legs.
  • Keep your pets’ nails trimmed.
  • Avoid placing houseplants directly on wood floors.

Skip Steam

Steam cleaners are great for lots of flooring types, but hardwood floors aren’t one of them. The high heat and moisture involved can damage the wood and its finish. This can lead to buckled floors or a failing subfloor—two very expensive consequences.

Use a DIY Spray Instead of a Bucket

Using a microfiber mop and a spray bottle of floor cleaner is a convenient option and much safer for your wood floors than a mop and bucket. Spraying controls how much moisture you lay down on the floor, so there’s no risk of it seeping between gaps or soaking into scratches and damaging your floorboards.

Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

Use this simple homemade spray to clean wood floors and eliminate grime.
Type of RecipeFloor cleaner
Use AsSpray
Keywordsfloor care, homemade cleaner, spray, wood
Print This

Equipment and Materials

  • Measuring cup
  • Spray bottle


  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar no substitutions
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol isopropyl, 70% strength max
  • 3 drops liquid dish soap not moisturizing or plant-based
  • 3 drops essential oil optional, for fragrance


  1. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and swirl gently.
  2. Mist a 3-foot area then mop.
  3. Rinse or change your mop head as needed to avoid streaks.


Be sure to actually measure the ingredients. They are provided in a specific ratio that avoids damaging wood floors.

With these cleaning tips, your wood floors will stay in top shape and look amazing for years to come. So now let’s talk about the right way to vacuum your carpets and area rugs!

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  1. I have a lot of scuff marks and the tennis ball is not doing the trick. Any suggestions?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Are they scuffs, like from a piece of rubber or plastic rubbing on the floor, or are they grease marks, gouges or burns? The tennis ball usually works on scuffs. Might try a little olive oil and a microfiber cloth. Just avoid anything too abrasive.

  2. Great advice. Thank you. When you say “drops of dish soap”, how do you define a drop since dish doesn’t drip like an essential oil? Is it a squirt or the smallest drop you can achieve? Thanks for your help.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      We’re looking for a very tiny amount here, just enough to help dissolve the bond between grime and the floor’s surface — too much, and the soap will leave streaks. I’d say 1/16th of a teaspoon, but most people don’t have a tiny measuring spoon like that.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Castile can leave behind a film.

  3. Lily de Grey says:

    You’re awesome, Katie. Thanks for posting this informative, comprehensive article. My dog has really scratched my hardwood floors, so we decided to replace an area in our home where it was the worst. I wish I would have seen your article before we did that; maybe we could have cleaned them! Your do-it-yourself cleaning solution seems like it would really clean my floors! Thanks for sharing!

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