Using vinegar to clean hardwood floors is an inexpensive, non-toxic option for polyurethane finished wood flooring.
When used correctly, vinegar breaks down the grime and dirt on your finish and leaves it clean and streak-free.
In fact, vinegar is great for cleaning bathrooms, kitchens and other areas in your home. Vinegar is safe and effective for laundry, cooking, skin care, gardens and much more.
But consider a few important cautions before you choose to use vinegar to clean hardwood floors.
Precautions about Vinegar
Your hardwood flooring manufacturer warranty
Yes, I have a Warranty
If your hardwood flooring is warrantied by the manufacturer, using vinegar probably voids your warranty. Most wood floor manufacturers list acidic materials such as vinegar as an unaccepted cleaning agent.
The reason for this inclusion is because most people use vinegar, water, and other ordinarily safe household cleaners improperly.
You should be able to view, print or download your warranty by navigating to the website of the manufacturer. Thoroughly review and follow their recommendations for care and maintenance – including cleaning products.
No, I don’t have a Warranty
Most hardwood flooring manufacturer warranties are not transferable, applying only to the original retail purchaser. Different aspects of the warranty expire after a specific number of years.
If voiding a warranty is not a concern for you, then vinegar can be a quick, simple and effective hardwood floor cleaning product … if you use it properly.
Too much vinegar or too much water
A frequent concern about the use of vinegar to clean hardwood floors is that it must be diluted in water. And wood and water do not mix.
Too much water can warp your boards, cause a ripple effect, permanently discolor the wood and produce nonrepairable damage.
Vinegar can do damage to your wood floor finish if the vinegar to water ratio is too strong if you use the wrong type of vinegar, and/or if you allow the vinegar/water mixture to pool, puddle or over soak your floor.
Do not use red wine, balsamic or apple vinegars. Plain white distilled vinegar should be your only choice.
How To Use Vinegar to Clean Hardwood Floors
1.) Dilute 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water. Again, use plain white vinegar, rather than cider or other vinegar varieties.
If the vinegar is too concentrated, it can cause pitting, etching and a sticky finish.
2.) Do not pour the mixture directly onto the floor. Instead, slightly dampen a cloth or mop, or use a spray bottle.
3.) Dampen or mist a section of hardwood flooring with the vinegar mixture, mop or wipe to ensure there is no standing moisture, then move on to the next section.
4.) You may use this vinegar mixture once or twice a month, using a manufacturer-recommended cleaning product for polyurethane coated floors in between vinegar cleanings.
Don’t use vinegar and water too often as vinegar is acidic and can break down the polyurethane finish, eventually reducing shine and making it dull in appearance.
5.) It works great for spills and spot cleaning. Just mist a paper towel or soft cloth with the vinegar solution, wipe, and dry the area.
Vinegar does give off an unpleasant odor – but it dissipates within an hour or two. We have been asked about adding a scent such as lavender oil to the mixture – but we do not recommend it.
Simply clean your hardwood floors well before company arrives!