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Is Vinegar Safe On Hardwood Floors?

No, it is not safe on the hardwood floors. It is advisable to avoid using vinegar and water to clean such floors. Using vinegar and water as a household solution for cleaning wooden floors can negatively affect your floor. 

You must remember that when cleaning your hardwood floors, it is not the wood that is being cleaned. What you’re cleaning is the chemical coating on the wood. 

It is noteworthy to point out that vinegar is an acid. Hence it will destroy the finish on the surface of your floor and, over time, will reduce the shine, making it have a dull appearance. If you use vinegar and water to clean floors, it may leave an excessive amount of water. This can lead to not only swelling but also discoloration.

The Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors

When it is time to clean your hardwood floors, here are some cleaning tips:

  • Prepare your floor for cleaning by sweeping it to remove debris and large particles of dirt.
  • Ensure you utilize a pH neutral cleaner that will not be hard on hardwood floors.
  • Make use of a fine spray mist to clean your floor in partitions. Also, avoid putting excess liquid on your floors.
  • It is preferable to use a microfiber mop for cleaning. Even though traditional mops can work, they would also leave excess water on your floors.
  • If you are looking for the best method to clean hardwood floors, avoid using white vinegar and water to clean your floors. It is better to use a specially formulated hardwood floor cleaner to enhance the beauty and appearance of your floors.

How to Mop Wood Floors Correctly

Beginning with preventative measures and routine cleaning is the best way to clean hardwood floors. However, sometimes a more thorough cleaning is required. Dirt, oil, and grime accumulate over time and cannot be entirely removed by dusting them weekly.

For complete cleaning of hardwood floors (this cleaning should be done in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wooden floor mop and a wood floor cleaning product diluted as specified on the label. A sponge or rag should be soaked in the water and then squeeze it almost dry so that it is only slightly wet to the touch. 

Furthermore, clean the floor with a damp cloth and be careful not to let standing waterfall on the floor. Ensure you rinse with a clean cloth dampened in clean water, but only if the product requires it. 

As time goes by, wipe off excess liquid, as standing water can damage wooden surfaces. If the atmosphere is humid, use a ceiling fan or air conditioner to speed up drying. If cleaning doesn’t work, then you are required to finish the wooden floors to make them look new.

How to Remove Stains on Hardwood Floors

Think about the finish of your flooring before trying to remove a stain from wood floors. When you notice a stain on the surface, it indicates your floor probably has a hard coating, like urethane. 

Additionally, if the finish stain has penetrated the wood, the floor probably has a soft oil coating. This is typical in older homes, whose floors are not refined and resealed. For hard floors, wipe the surface stains with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or corrosive chemicals, as they can permanently damage the coating.

The following solutions are for hardwood floors with soft oil coatings. If necessary, complete each treatment by staining the wood. Then wax and buff the spot to ensure it matches the other part of the floor.

1). Don’t allow dark stains and pet stains: Rub the area with steel wool and floor wax. If the place is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.

2). Ensure to remove heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub wax on the floor.

3). Ensure the removal of oil-based stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dish detergent to break down the oil. Rinse with clean water. If an application does not work, repeat the procedure. Don’t allow children and pets into the room until finished. Allow the area to dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.

4). Make sure watermarks or white spots are removed: Rub the area with steel wool and floor wax. If the stain deepens, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.

The Dos and Don’ts When Cleaning a Hardwood Floor

  • Use a floor cleaner recommended by the floor finisher, or choose soap and water. If the recommended product is expensive or difficult to find, and other floor cleaners contain ingredients that violate your floor warranty, simply opt for soap and water. 
  • Try 1/4 cup of mild or neutral pH soap (like liquid dish soap) or Murphy’s soap (despite the name, it doesn’t contain oil) in a bucket of water.
  • Do not use oils, waxes, or furniture sprays. The oil can leave residue while the furniture spray creates a slippery surface. Additionally, the wax takes longer to apply, making it difficult to re-coat.
  • Avoid using straight ammonia, alkaline products, or abrasive cleaners. They will cause scratch or make the finish appear dull.
  • Do not rely on lemon juice or vinegar solution and water to clean hardwood floors. Because using vinegar or lemon juice in large quantities can damage the floor seal.

What to Clean Hardwood Floors with Instead of Vinegar

Several inexpensive but effective cleaners are safe for finished wood floors. Some of them are common, and you have probably heard of them. They’re not only cheap, but a bottle will last a while. This is because you don’t have to use them too often, especially if you’re vacuuming all the time. Here are effective alternative to Vinegar:

Bona is not the most famous brand, but it is sold in most of the larger stores. It is designed specifically for hardwood, although some products have recently been introduced for another flooring.

One of their most popular products is one of the most convenient. This is a set of cleaning spray with a bottle of detergent and a reusable microfiber pad. This is a straightforward system – a pull trigger disperses the cleaning solution on the floor, and the head of the microfiber mop buffers and dries.

The popularity of the system lies not in the mop, but in the Bona cleaning solution itself, which is non-toxic and has a balanced pH level, so it does not etch the surface of your floor. Also, it is designed so that no residue remains.

Bona focuses on being environmentally friendly and non-toxic. This means that microfiber pads are used that can be reused instead of disposable pads. It also means a slightly higher price. But since it’s an investment in maintaining probably expensive hardwood floors, it’s still a fantastic value.

  • Swiffer

If Bona isn’t available in your area (and you don’t want to order it online), you can almost certainly find Swiffer Sweeper. The kit contains a cleaning spray and cleaning solution and disposable pads, similar to those used for microfiber. While Swiffer isn’t exactly the most environmentally friendly option, it is safe to use on your finished hardwood.

Like Bona, it is sprayed and then wiped with a disposable pad. This is a quick, easy solution, and also one of the cheapest options available.

The key to achieving real cleanliness of your hardwood is to clean it daily with a hardwood safe vacuum cleaner and then to clean it with a damp/spray mop product about every week. This is how your wooden floors will look new in the years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does vinegar hurt wood?

Since vinegar is acidic, it can attack wood and stone, and also destroy wax, kill plants, and cause other damage on hardwood floors. Therefore it is better to use either a cleaner designed for wooden floors or a mixture of soap and water.

How often should you wash hardwood floors?

For areas like the dining room and kitchen, you should sweep or vacuum daily and mop wooden floors once or twice a week whenever possible. Mop less frequented areas once a month or once a season.

How are hardwood floors cleaned without residue?

Start by dusting or sweeping your floors well. Then make a cleaning mixture with 4 cups of warm water and a few drops of castile soap or dish soap. Avoid shaking it; however, mix gently, wipe or scrub small pieces one at a time and then dry or wipe dry with a clean cloth. “

Final thoughts

In conclusion, what makes vinegar a powerful detergent is its acidity. But it is equally this same reason vinegar is not recommended for use on certain floor surfaces. White vinegar can damage natural stones such as granite or marble and damage the grout. Do not use white vinegar to clean waxed or untreated wood floors. Lastly, vinegar is also too hard for natural carpet fibers such as silk or wool.