Basic Wood Floor Care



Wood floors should be protected with a sealer. Penetrating sealers go into the wood pores; worn spots can be resealed. Lacquer, shellac, varnish stay on top of the wood; if worn off in traffic areas, usually the whole floor has to be sanded and refinished. Prevent scratches when moving furniture by putting heavy socks over the legs.

Wood Floor Top Coat: Vegetable Oil and Vinegar. Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of oil and vinegar into a solution and apply a thin coat. Rub in well.

Painted Wooden Cleaner: Washing Soda. Mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon hot water and wash the floor with a mop, sponge, or soft bristled brush. This solution can also be used to remove mildew. 

Oil Soap: Use according to package directions.


Vacuum often to keep dirt from grinding into the floor finish or sticking to it. Wipe up spills immediately. A damp (not wet) cloth may be used on a well-sealed wood floor to wipe up food spills or mud. Wipe dry with cloth or paper towel. Clean when necessary with a solvent-based liquid wax for wood. Follow directions on container. Solvent removes dirt and old wax, and leaves a thin wax coating which must be buffed. Apply with:

  1. A dry cloth, rubbing floor and refolding the clean part of cloth as dirt is taken up; hard on knees
  2. Cloth over long-handled wax applicator, rubbing and refolding cloths as above
  3. Electric floor polishers, can be rented at many supermarkets, changing to clean brushes or pads as dirt and wax are taken up.
  4. Buff wax left on floor: immediately if by hand; or after 20-30 minutes if with electric polisher.

This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension