Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Molding & Carpentry>Cleaning 100+ year old hard wood floors
5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Cleaning 100+ year old hard wood floors


I live in a 103 year old farm house that is all wood floors--maple down stairs, oak on the stairs and birch upstairs.

I have recently had the upstairs birch refinished and coated with a water based finish. I need to start cleaning them and also will have a service in once a month to clean them.

Wondering what the best cleaning agent should be? My mother has always said "vinegar and water" while I have read Murphy's oil soap from others.

I love my wood floors--they are throughout my house--and are beautiful, just want to make sure I give them the love they need.:)


Re: Cleaning 100+ year old hard wood floors

First, flowing water is the enemy of wooden floors. Whatever you use in the way of water based cleaner should only be in the form of a dampened rag.

The problem with Murphy's is that it does leave an oily residue with its sheen. this may present a bonding problem down the road when it is time to renew the urethane finish.

The "Bona" company has a system for cleaning wood floors that utilizes a non-residue leaving cleaner which is misted on the system and wiped down with a micro-fiber mop head. Bona is sold at Home Depot and other floor care stores.

Also be careful about applying "re-fresher" products in the future. Read the label, as many preclude putting a true re-fresher coat of urethane on in the future. Ideally, you should have your floor cleaned, "screened" and another coat of urethane put on before the surface has worn through to bare wood. Urethane is very durable and should not need any top dressing, especially one that would interfere with a urethane adhereing in the future.

I don't see anything wrong with a little vinegar in your water. It functions to help stop water spotting in hard water areas. However, you should not be using enough water to bead up and form spots!

Re: Cleaning 100+ year old hard wood floors


Thanks for the reply--I just saw the BONA product on a commerical last night--crazy!

Understood re: the damp rag. I will pass along.

Any idea on parts water and parts vinegar? 10 to 1, more or less?

Thanks again TOH community!


Re: Cleaning 100+ year old hard wood floors

I clean my kitchen floor with straight white vinegar n a small sponge, and wipe dry with a piece of old linen (microfiber works, too). It was recommended for the waterlox finish I put down. It does not leave any streaks and seems to do pretty well. I have 6 years practice cleaning it. If you need to use a detergent on some oily messes, then do that first, and then do the vinegar as above.

Re: Cleaning 100+ year old hard wood floors


Thanks for getting back to me. I have emailed the person that did the refinishing to see precisely what he used in finishing/staining my floor.

Thanks for your feedback, appreciate it.


Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.