Hardwood floors can get dingy and damaged in high traffic areas and homes with kids and pets. All natural restorer for hardwood floors is the easy way to eliminate scratches and scuffs. Bring hardwood floors back life with this non-toxic, DIY cleaner that will make your floors shine like new.
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Dingy Hardwood Floors
Our rental house has beautiful hardwood floors in the entryway and kitchen. Unfortunately, the last tenant had five children who were very rough on the house. The floors lack the luster and shine of natural hardwood even when they are freshly swept and mopped.
I was tired of cleaning my floors and getting less than beautiful results! I investigated my options:
- Ignore it. My personality would not allow this to happen.
- Refinish the floors. Not going to happen, this is a rental house!
- Use a hardwood floor restoring product.
Commercial Hardwood Floor Restorers
The best solution was a hardwood floor restoring product. But, after examining the commercial versions at several home improvement stores, I realized that I did not want to use any of the restorers on my floors.
The commercial floor restorers did not list ingredients or had very vague labels. This sets off alarm bells in my mind because without specific labels there is no way to know what you are cleaning with, touching, and inhaling.
It’s shocking! Household cleaners in the US can contain dangerous toxins, but they do not have to be listed because specific ingredients are considered trade secrets.
One thing the floor restorer labels did contain… WARNINGS… lot of warnings! The labels state, KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN and then list warnings such as:
- May cause stomach irritation. If swallowed, drink 1 or 2 glasses of water to dilute.
- In case of eye contact, flush with water.
- If comes into contact with skin wash affected areas with large amount of soap and water.
The commercial hardwood restorers I found scored an F on the Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guide. The ingredients (if listed) include:
- Polymers –Synthetic materials used as plastics and resins.
- They can cause skin irritation/ allergies, vision damage, and negative effects on aquatic life.
- Plasticizer – Additives to plastic to increase flexibility.
- These can cause respiratory damage, developmental, endocrine, or reproductive effects (including breast cancer risks and reduced sperm counts in men), and negative effects on aquatic life.
- Surfactants – Compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids.
- Surfactants may cause skin irritation, allergies, skin damage, respiratory damage, and negative effects on aquatic life..
- Solvents – Liquids or gases that dissolve other substances.
- According to OSHA, exposure to solvents can cause damage to the nervous system, reproductive system, liver and kidneys, respiratory systems as well as risks for cancer and dermatitis.
I still wanted shiny hardwoods, but did not want those dangerous substances on my floor!
- My dog lies on that floor all day (and occasionally licks it).
- My children have been know to drop a snack on the floor then pick it up and eat it.
- Neighborhood kids sit on the floor to play with toy cars and Legos.
All Natural Restorer for Hardwood Floors
I made up my own all natural solution that uses simple kitchen ingredients.
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 20 drops Essential Oil (Optional: I use lemon grass, it smells great and can kill bacteria/fungi.)
You can mix Hardwood Floor Restorer in a larger batch if you have a large area to cover. I used two batches to restore 620 square feet. (Yes, it’s true… it take very little to polish a large area! You do not want to use too much or you will have greasy floors!)
Natural Restorer Instructions
- Vacuum and dust floors.
- Mop floors using a deep cleaning mixture of 2 cups warm water and ½ cup white vinegar. Allow to dry.
- Mix floor restorer in a small spray bottle with a mister top.
- Lightly spray floor restorer on a small area (about 2 feet by 3 feet) and spread using a microfiber mop pad. Do not leave any pools of restorer, the floor should be evenly coated.
- Continue step 4 until the entire floor is thinly coated.
- Return to the area where you started and buff the floors by rubbing with a clean, dry microfiber mop pad.
- Enjoy your beautiful floors!
I loved the results on my floors so much that I kept going and polished all the wooden window sills and wooden kitchen cabinets. The house is gleaming and smells terrific!
Hardwood Floor Cleaning vs. Restoring
This restorer is for extremely dull hardwood floors and should not be used frequently. Try my All-Natural Homemade Floor Cleaner for everyday cleaning. It does a great job on all type of floors and it gentle enough to use everyday.
Furniture Polish – If you are looking for a non-toxic furniture polish try my Wonder Dressing.
Floor Follow Up
P.S. It has been about a month since I “restored” our hardwood floors. I have dusted and vacuumed the floors several times (we have a large hairy dog) but have not needed to mop or “restore” the floors again… they still look beautiful and shiny!
P.S.S. It’s been more than a year since I originally restored” our hardwood floors. I regularly sweep the floors and spot clean any spills. Once a month I clean the floors with All-Natural Homemade Floor Cleaner. When I did my spring cleaning I restored the floors again and will continue to do it yearly.
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What kind of finish was already on your floor? Polyurethane or oiled? What condition was the finish in?
And olive oil won’t go rancid?
Awesome post! Gorgeous after shot too.
It had a polyurethane finish. The finish was about 5-6 years old with some mild damage/scratches due to being in a rental house. I have never had the oil go rancid. As every home is different I always recommend spot testing any cleaner (store-bought or homemade) in an inconspicuous spot before using on a large area. Good luck!
Hi, do you mix this solution with water? If so how much? I’ve been looking for an all natural solution to cleaning my floors! Thanks!
It is not mixed with water, it’s an oil-based polish. Hope it works well for you!
Has one one used this on dark hard wood floors?
I thought I would try this & start small. After trying it out on small patch & seeing such impressive results, I just kept going. I ended up doing the entire house & it’s truly amazing. I used lemon verbena as my essential oil & my house smells divine! Thank you for this simple & simply lovely recipe! I’ll never consider any other option.
Hooray! I’m so glad it worked well for you!
Hi I have hard wood floors and my dog urinated on it. It took the shine of and I can’t restore the spot with rejuvenate or any other product. The spot is totally dull and very. Visible
This site (https://www.woodfloorscleaner.com/faq/dog-urine-soaked-into-hardwood-floors-what-to-do/) has a great tutorial for removing pet urine and fixing the floor. Hope it helps!
Would like to try this. The white vinegar I purchased has lemon in it to mask the smell of the vinegar. Would the lemon be ok on natural wood floor?
I’ve never tried the recipe with scented vinegar, I would try recommend testing a small batch in a small area to see how you like the results before cleaning the whole floor. Good luck!
Hi Bren, would you recommend using these ingredients after sanding the floor? Thanks, Manny
No, I have only used this mix on finished floors.
Does this work on wood laminate flooring?
I have only used it on natural wood floors, I would spot test before using it on laminate.
Hi! I know this is an old post but I was wondering(in case it’s still active) if this would work on worn, dull linoleum.
I have only used it on wood. I would spot test before using it on linoleum.
I have a 15 year old Minwax stained and water base polyurethane floor throughout my apartment all continuous, no threshold boards. As my 20 year old son just moved out I started to renovate a little. Fixed his scratched floor and washed and scraped spilled paint off, which caused the urethane to be removed in places. I re-minwaxed the stain in and then unfortunately had to lift the left over off with mineral spirits as minwax on top of finishes doesn’t soak in well. I was at first going to re- polyurethane. But was anxious about that for many reasons. A) getting a puppy next week, B) I never done that kind of job and their is a built in bed so would have to work around the legs and C) I wanted to blend his room back into the hallway for and the rest of the house.
This afternoon I just used your wood restorer everywhere but his room and it looks so amazing that I now moped his floor and will do the same in a little while. This really was the mature solution for me on so many levels and I thank you for that ! ! !
Wishing you well from the West Village in NYC !
I’m glad it worked well for you, Gabriella! You’ve done so much work!
How much of these ingredients do you use?
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
20 drops Essential Oil
You know this only makes a little more than 3 tablespoons? How much water do you add?
A little goes a LONNNNNNGGGGG way. There is no added water.
Thanks for this awesome post! I too have pets and wanted a simple non-toxic option. Can’t wait to try this option and then maintain it with your everyday cleaning mixture!
I was really impressed with your mixture!! I didn’t want to keep making it so I put the vinegar, oil , lemon grass and water in a spray bottle.. omg it worked great. I’m very happy with it thank you very much!
What kind of vinegar did you use – regular strength, or the double-strength cleaning vinegar?
I use regular strength but cleaning strength will work too just use less. Read more about it in my cleaning with vinegar post.
Will this work on luxury vinyl flooring?
I have never tested it on vinyl. For vinyl I clean with water, a few drops of dish detergent (the kind used for washing dishes in the sink), and a microfiber cloth or a vodka mix.
Bren- my house (and wood flooring) is 60+ years old.
I have always used what my ‘mama’ used a fairly- q1-2 years, mixture of linseed oil and mineral spirits rub/scrub- followed after a drying period with paste wax and a long buffing with an upright electric buffer.
I do not want to ‘seal’ my floors with a poly-anything-
Do you think your mixture would be adequate as a replacement for my laborious and frankly toxic system? Would it be reasonable- do you think- to try it?
I’m not sure how the mixture would react with the paste wax you have been using (the wax has probably left a coating on the top of your floors). According to experts, “Water based cleaners cannot be used on floors finished with a liquid or paste wax. Water will turn the coating white.” Vinegar does contain water so I would be hesitant to use the cleaner.
Hi Bren. I love your info. Thank you. With the Floor Restorer I’m just wondering is it just Olive Oil. Vinegar and essential oil. No water??? Ty
Correct. It is an oil cleaner so apply VERY lightly and buff really well.
Just a question. Is there any water used with the other ingredients?
No, just the oil. This is a restoring oil to be applied VERY thinly then buffed to a shine after to floor is clean. Good luck!
Very helpful! Thank you for sharing!
HI Bren…I’ve always been told that the acid in vinegar will eventually dull the floor finish so I am a little hesitant to try this solution. Your thoughts?
Sandi, this restorer is for extremely dull hardwood floors and should not be used frequently. Try my All-Natural Homemade Floor Cleaner for everyday cleaning. It does a great job on all type of floors and it gentle enough to use everyday.
I was reading that putting olive oil in a combo with vinegar and water or any solution is not a great idea as the olive oil can go rancid and create bacteria. I would try it except I am afraid of this happening. What do you know about this? Thanks,
I’ve never had a problem with the oil going rancid. You should do what you feel comfortable doing.
Amazing indeed!!!!! We just did our kitchen, half bath and foryer and they look wonderful… The lady who said the old would turn rancid… if you use the lemon grass it has a built in bacteria fighter….. I am thrilled
I’m thrilled it worked for you, Lanice!
I read somewhere that you should not use vinegar to clean polyurethane finished wood floors. Did you research this before using vinegar on your floors?
Pat, I do not recommend regularly cleaning wood floor with vinegar. With a good finish you can simply to vacuum or sweep and wipe away spills with a soft damp cloth or use a gentle natural cleaner. I use vinegar in this tutorial for restoring damaged/dingy floors.
Do you think it would be possible to use coconut oil instead of olive oil? Thoughts?
I’ve never tried it with coconut oil, but I have used coconut oil to polish furniture in a pinch!
Wondering if you could use this mix for laminated wood floors?
I’ve never tried it on artificial wood. Let me know if it works.
Can this be used on raw wood where finish is worn off? I have a very old house and my floors need refinishing. There is raw wood in high traffic areas. We are trying to wait a little longer to tackle the project because it is such a large area.
Vicky, I have never used it on unfinished wood. I would test a very small area and see what you think.
I just tried this on my dark hardwood floors. It worked ok. I don’t think I will do this again and not sure I would recommend it for dark wood you can see a lot of streaks. But thank you for the cardio work out as I worked up a sweat trying to buff them so they looked halfway decent.
Gina, I’m so sorry you were not pleased with the results. Yes, it is a cardio workout, especially if you use a lot of the solution or apply it unevenly.
Are you saying it only took 6 Tbs. of product to do that floor? That would be amazing!
Yes, it only took 6 Tbsp! It takes very little of the oil and vinegar mix to polish and restore the floors after sweeping and mopping them (as outlined above). A tiny squirt goes a very LONG way! You want to apply it very lightly (mist from a spray bottle if possible) or you will be buffing it off forever! Hope this helps.
I am somewhat confused, do you mix this cocktail with water? If its only olive oil and vinegar, total 3 tbsp for 1 batch, that’s very little volume for 300 sq ft. I appreciate your reply in advance.
No you do not mix with water. Yes it makes very little. It takes very little of the oil and vinegar mix to polish and restore the floors. Trust me, a tiny squirt goes are LONG way! You want to apply it very lightly (mist from a spray bottle if possible), too much and you will be buffing forever! Hope this helps.
I was wondering the same thing! Thanks for asking. Cant wait to try this.
Hope it works well for you, Dee!
Oh My! I used your All-Natural Restorer for hardwood floors, and it did an AMAZING job! I was just pricing out getting my floors refinished, when I used this today. WOW. That is all.
Thank you so much for sharing – I want to go polish all the wood in my house now! <3
Amy, I am so glad to hear that the all-natural floor restorer worked for you! It does have a tendency to lead to lots of wood polishing! 🙂 Soon your whole house will be gleaming!
There’s also one I’ve read, she used tea bags instead of essential oils but there’s olive oil still.
Very interesting, I wonder if the tea is used to add color? I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for commenting!
Okay, we are going to try this on our kitchen floor.
I hope you like how it works! Go easy on the oil when you first apply or you will spend a lot of time buffing it off in the end.