My “No Vinegar” Cleaner for Hardwood Floors
It’s no secret that one of my favorite homemade cleaners is a basic 50/50 vinegar and water mixture. It’s usually my go-to homemade cleaner of choice and I’ve written about it several times here on the blog. In fact I sometimes worry I’ve written about vinegar too much and that I’ll start sounding like a broken record . . . stop talking about the vinegar and water already!
But as much as I’ve sung the praises of vinegar and water as a cleaner, there’s one place I’ve never used my all purpose favorite and that’s on my hardwood floor. Once before I wrote about this in my post about 7 things not to clean with vinegar, and in fact made hardwood floors the #2 thing on that list! There’s certainly debate on that subject and you can find plenty of homemade floor cleaner recipes around the internet that use some vinegar, but I’ve always decided to remain careful and keep the vinegar away from my vintage restored hardwood floor. Vinegar is acidic and I’ve decided to heed the cautions that it could dull the finish and even possibly warp the wood over time.
Usually if I feel the need to do more than just a “dry swiffering” of my floor, I’ll use plain water. There are times, however, when just plain water doesn’t feel like quite enough either. For those times I was still debating on a homemade solution that could be helpful.
Then I read an article in my local newspaper that mentioned that a simple mixture of alcohol, distilled water, and a bit of dish soap was a good homemade solution for cleaning wood floors. It sounded like an easy solution and I finally had a chance to give it a try. And I liked it!
Understanding the Ingredients
Alcohol can be a good choice to use in homemade cleaners as it has an almost neutral ph, meaning it’s neither too acidic nor is it too alkaline. If there are surfaces that need gentler care (like granite countertops or when you clean your electronics) alcohol can certainly be the solution. I usually use the 70% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol but in a pinch something like gin or vodka can work too.
And if you’re remaining cautious about your wood floors, distilled water is a good choice too. Distilled water (which you should be able to purchase for an inexpensive price at your local grocery store) can be useful in eliminating streaking or other marks from hard water and can prevent mineral buildup too.
And finally, this mixture has just a quick little squirt of dish soap. This bit of soap helps in breaking the surface tension of the water which in turn can make your cleaning more effective, but is a small enough amount that doesn’t require any rinsing.
All three of these ingredients are pretty simple and inexpensive items. For me the added bonus is that I always have these items around the house so I can mix up some of this cleaner whenever the need comes up.
"No Vinegar" Hardwood Floor Cleaner
- 1 cup Distilled Water
- 1/4 cup Rubbing Alcohol (70% Isopropyl)
- Small Squirt of Dish Soap (I used Dawn)
- Combine the ingredients in a small spray bottle.
- To use: Spray a small area of the floor and then rub with a cloth to clean and wipe the area dry. You can do this on your hands and knees, but I usually put a cloth on my Swiffer and use that to clean and dry the area. Be sure to dry the area well as any standing water left on hardwood floors is not good for them either.
- Continue spraying and wiping dry until you have cleaned the entire floor.
Do you have a hardwood floor too? Do you have a favorite method or homemade cleaner that’s your preferred solution on your hardwood floor?
I’d love to hear what you have to say on the subject! Feel free to leave me a comment below with any of your experiences and/or advice.
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I love all of your ideas! Thanks ever so much for sharing. Emma
have 6 year old bamboo floors from Lumber Liquidators. Our son’s dog left all sorts of pawprints the week we kept her. I tried Bona, my vinegar mix… nothing worked until today, when I used this solution! Thank you!
I’m so glad this recipe gave you a successful solution!
Will this mixture work for Lumber Liquidator hardwood floors with their “baked” in finish?
Yes, I believe it is OK to use with that type of floor. My understanding is that type of floor is pre-finished at the factory rather than in the home, however it still has the polyurethane coating that is usual for most hardwood floors.
Damp wiping hardwood floors and notice globs of black stuff.. assuming wax build up. ( someone has been cleaning for me and apparently using wax every time). I could only do a small section as it was over powering for me(87 yrs).Is there anything to make for easy removal without ruining floor.
I have hardwood engineered pacaya Mesquite in my living room and hallway kitchen. What can I use on that type of floor to clean it. I’ve been using Bona but that’s a lot of work spraying and it has left streaks. I’m told I should not use water because of the way this flooring is manufactured.
I was not familiar with this type of flooring so I did a little bit of internet research. It looks like you should not use a very wet mop, but some things said a very lightly dampened mop was OK. One strategy I use sometimes on my wood floor is to put an old cloth on my swiffer, then spray the cloth with my cleaner or water (rather than spraying the floor). This helps to keep too much liquid from being sprayed on the floor, and keeps the cloth that you are mopping with just slightly damp.
Going to definitely try this! Presently using 1/4 cp. vinegar to a bucket of water. Throw a towel over wet area and scoot myself around the room to mop up. Great workout and gets the job done.
Is this cleaner safe for pets?
Because the rubbing alcohol is watered down in this mixture I believe that Yes, it is safe for pets (in the event they would lick the floor or something). My research showed that rubbing alcohol is a concern if pets ingest full strength alcohol in larger amounts.
I can’t wait to try the new recipe
Can I use this cleaner on my wood kitchen cabinets?
Yes, the soap in the mixture should be helpful for cutting any grease buildup on the cabinets too.
I pulled up the lino on my kitchen floor and found original hardwood I would like to refinish. 1st I need to clean the sticky grime and adhesive used at the joins. Any suggestions. Tried some sugar soap and water with green scrubby and a scraper but there must be an easier way???
When we refinished an original hardwood floor that had been under carpet for many years in our living room, I’ll confess that I totally let a professional do the work, so I don’t have any DIY experience in that area. I do remember there was a lot of sanding with his machine that happened first to get the floor ready for the staining and sealing.
Will this mixture a build up affect?
No, I have not seen any buildup from using this mixture.
Can this be use in urethane finished wood floors?
Yes, I believe so. I use it on my wood floor (that was original with our house built in the ’50’s). We had the floor re-finished a few years back and a sealer was put on it, and I have not had any problems.
Can I add some drops of essential oil to this recipe?
Yes, I think a few drops of essential oil would be just fine!
Will the 50/50 vinegar and water cleaner be safe for vinyl seats? Might it affect the color of the vinyl?
I think the 50/50 water and vinegar mixture should be fine on the vinyl seats. I have never had vinegar take the color off any surface I have used it on.
Is it ok to use alcohol on wood floors ? Don’t you think it will ruin the shine ?
I have not noticed any difference or problems when using this on my wood floors, so I would say it is OK.
Can this be used on old worn unsealed wood floors? Our floors need refinishing but I’d like to clean them now.
Yes, I think you could use this no-vinegar floor cleaner on an old unsealed wood floor. I think you would just want to make sure that no water pooled up, or stayed on the wood for a long time after cleaning. You might even want to dry it with a towel when you are done, just to make sure you don’t get any water spots on the wood (as it is unfinished) from the moisture of the cleaner.
After cleaning I use lemon oil I rub into the floor. It makes the wood look absolutely beautiful and protects the wood, along with keeping dust down. I’ve used it for years after cleaning. Try it once and you will love how your floor looks 🙂
Thanks for that tip Jessica – I might have to give that a try!
Do you buy the lemon oil?
This is easy one to make but I ‘m trying this one I like the scent of fabulous so I mix some with water in spray bottle but use a 18 pack of washcloth from Wal-Mart by putting together and using the of a nail to pus washcloth into the opening on swifter. . so I spray solution from spray bottle then wipe down floors. When cloth is completely dirty and floors clean I reverse washcloth and repeat procedure til I have all 4 sides used the proceed to next room to repeat this you may need more than one. Pack of washcloth but think of this way you just have to wash them instead of having to replace wet ones you use with swifter to start .it might kind a pain but if all I have to do is wash rather to spend more money for the wet cloth. I think I come out saving money$$$$$
i have unfinished hardwood floors and they said not to use rubbing alcohol it will deteriate the wood, I used 1 tbsp mayonnaise 1 tbsp olive oil &1 tbsp lemon juice. I have dogs leaving footprints on my wood floor due to bad weather, making your house not clean. mix all together–the oils in the mayonnaise and olive oil absorb the lemon juice, the oils make a cushion around the lemon juice. Use a bowl to put your mix in and apply with an old washcloth apply going with the grain on an UNFINISHED WOOD FLOOR. The dry wood absorbs the oils and it shines like a beautiful new floor gets rid of the dirty too. Start in small sections at a time rubbing it in the wood, then rub over that section with a microfiber cloth or another washcloth to buff it. My name is Ruth Castelucci I have some recipes to share with you, love your site..GO GIRL!!
I use this same mixture too Ruth, but never thought of using it on my floor! I’ve used the mayo/oil/lemon juice on dried out wood that I want to revive. https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/2014/09/homemade-help-restore-dry-wood.html
Does this have a strong chemical smell because of the alcohol? I was using Bruce and both my husband and me got headaches. Looking for a more green alternative. Thanks!
I don’t find the alcohol smell to be too strong in this mixture. There is some smell, but it evaporates away very quickly so I find the smell doesn’t linger near as long as the smell of store bought cleaners.
Can you put this mixture in a steam mop’s container and clean your floors that way? I want to avoid constantly stooping over to spray and hand mop floor.
I think most steam mops are designed to work with just water, so perhaps it would be best not to use this mixture in that type of mop. There are some mops (like the Bona brand) that squirts just liquid (rather than heating it and using steam) and I think this homemade mixture would be better for that type of mop.
Can you use this mixture for wooden kitchen cabinets?
Yes, although I prefer a soap cleaner for my wooden cabinets. A cleaner with soap seems to work a bit better on the type of dirt that builds up on kitchen cabinets. Here’s a link to one of my soap cleaners that I use: https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/2015/11/peppermint-soap-spray-cleaner.html
I add some essential oils to my mixture…smells great and has disinfecting properties.
You’re right Michele – if you have some essential oils they would certainly be a nice addition to this floor clener
How about laminate floors? Is vinegar ok?
Yes, vinegar should be OK on laminate floors. Of course you can use this rubbing alcohol mixture on your laminate floors too if you wish.