Cleaning Old Wood Floors Without Refinishing: Full Guide

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If you have old hardwood floors in the house, there is a high possibility that they would require cleaning and a bit of restoration to be able to be used again.

Old hardwood floors have received a lot of traffic and damage resulting in an excess of dirt and dust accumulated on the surface.

This brings down the appeal of the floors and makes them look unattractive. While most flooring experts suggest refinishing the floors, it is not always necessary.

You can clean old wood floors without refinishing by mopping, using wood-grade cleaners, and scraping. Refinishing is expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. Simple cleaning methods can revive the appearance of old floors without the need for extensive refinishing.

However, following the simple steps mentioned below, you can easily clean the old hardwood floors in your house so make sure you read till the end.

Cleaning Old Wood Floors Without Refinishing

Hardwood floors bring life to the interior of the house but how would it look if life itself was dead?

Old hardwood floors share a similar situation as the years of wear and tear and lack of maintenance causes them to lose their original grace.

Many people who move into old houses find this problem where the flooring is hardwood but it has not been maintained over the years.

With the already overflowing budget and costs of moving, bearing the expenditure of refinishing the old hardwood floors might not be feasible for everyone.

While professionals and specialists might try to say that this is the last option you have; reality begs to differ.

There are some simple remedies you can adopt to clean the old and dirty floors without the expensive refinishing which will still allow the floors to regain their grace and become as good as new.

These steps are mentioned below but make sure to follow them precisely if you want desirable results.

Sweep The Floors

Sweeping the floors can save you a lot of time and effort when cleaning your floors.

Regular cleaning prevents dust accumulation and limits the need for refinishing. Dust is the biggest enemy of shiny hardwood floors.

You might’ve deep cleaned and polished your floors for a few hours, but to your surprise, the floors can look dirty again and would’ve lost their shine due to the dust accumulated on top.

Hence, if you want your hardwood floors to sustain their shine and ensure that the wet look remains for a longer period, you must dry-mop your floors every day.

Sweeping is not necessarily done with a mop only. You can use a Swiffer as a regular mop or even a regular lint-free cloth.

The goal is to prevent dust from accumulating on the surface and becoming a deterrent to the wet shiny look of your floors.

Hence, when you mop your floors daily, you will remove all this dust and improve the look of your floors by a major factor.

If you don’t want to mop or if you think it is too much of a hassle to do, you can also vacuum the floor.

Vacuuming does the same job, but you must make sure you give the floor 2-3 vacuum runs to eliminate all the dust.

Use A Steam Mop

Steam mopping is one of the most useful ways to clean your old hardwood floors. While wet mopping is not preferred under any circumstances, a steam mop can help you in such situations.

Water destroys wooden surfaces, especially those that need to be finished.

However, steam mopping uses steam and spraying water or cleaning solutions (whichever you use) on the floor in very controlled amounts.

This gentle spray makes the surface moist enough to be cleaned but also not too wet that the water content may harm the surface of the wood.

Hence, allowing for an optimum cleaning method that is super-safe and effective.

To ensure further safety, you need to understand that once you are done steam mopping your floors, you can’t place the mop on the floors directly.

Either use a towel and place the mop on the hardwood floors or place it somewhere else on a non-wooden surface.

The reason behind this is that the water droplets might accumulate under the mop and cause puddles on the surface.

This can cause sagging or chipping in your hardwood floors, resulting in severe damage to your hardwood floors.

Furthermore, when steam-mopping the floors, ensure not to stay still at one point.

It is best to keep moving, so the steam doesn’t accumulate in one place and risk increasing the moisture content of the wooden plank.

Scrape The Floors

One of the most common reasons behind refinishing is a buildup layer of dust, dirt, and grime on top of the hardwood floors which causes many problems.

If you perform regular scraping, you might only need to refinish your floors for a short time.

Often, items such as chewing gums, sticky liquids, and others get stuck on the surface of the floors.

Scraping these on time can save you a lot of effort and time in your regular cleaning routine and help you maintain a useful cleaning routine for hardwood floors.

If you scrape regularly, you will be denying any types of buildups on your hardwood floors; hence, there won’t be any necessity to refinish your hardwood floors.

Chewing gum and wax build-ups are the most notorious items to get stuck on your hardwood floors.

However, you must give equal attention to other petrified items too. Wait. Don’t forget to go through a whole detailed guide on removing wax build-ups from hardwood floors.

Using a putty knife is suitable to remove these and scrape them off the surface as it does not cause any scratches or dents if managed with care.

If you face any problems with getting the rigid substances off of the floors, try placing a plastic bag filled with ice on the stuck materials and then scrape them off.

But make sure you don’t try it too aggressively, as you might also scratch your hardwood floors or finish this way.

Use A Commercial-Grade Cleaning Product

Commercial-grade cleaners are necessary if you want your old hardwood floors to look good and remain clean.

You can’t expect to sustain a shiny look on your hardwood floors without shining the surface every week.

It is crucial to clean and polish your floors every week to prevent the accumulation of dust, dirt, and grime, which might hinder the spotless look of your floors.

Often, homemade cleaning solutions are either too harsh or too soft for the old wooden surfaces and might damage them; hence, it is suitable to use a commercial product rather than a homemade solution to ensure the safety and integrity of your hardwood floors.

If you want your floors to sustain the shiny wet look, polish them now and then.

If you want to use a commercial product, Bona and Pine-sol could be your top priorities as I found them one of the best hardwood floor cleaners and polishers in the market.

Not only does Pine-sol clean and disinfect your hardwood floors, but they also help enrich their luster, so the shiny look is enhanced to the point where it starts to look as if the floor is wet.

However, if you want a natural homemade solution, you can use vinegar, water, and olive oil to give your hardwood floors the desired shine.

This natural solution works wonders if you want an unmatched shine on your floors.

The vinegar cleans and detoxifies the surface, removing any impurities, whereas the olive oil works as a polish and gives the surface a shiny appearance.

Moreover, it also develops a protective coat on the top, so you get two birds with one stone.

Here is an easy method to clean old hardwood floors without refinishing:

  • Firstly, you must make the solution or get the product you want.
  • Then you must clear the area of any objects and make sure that the floor has been cleaned according to the method mentioned earlier.
  • You can add natural solutions into a spray bottle and apply them to the desired areas. Commercial products either come in a spray bottle, or you must make a solution from them. You can make a solution and put it in a spray bottle if it’s the latter.
  • Once you’ve applied the solution to the desired surface, start rubbing it with a microfiber or lint-free cloth.
  • Make sure you rub along the wood grain for best results, as it allows the solution to settle into the surface and makes the shine last longer.
  • Lastly, dividing the area into portions and shine is best to make it easier. Besides, ensure you’ve given it enough time to dry off before stepping on it. If you’ve used a natural solvent, you do not need to rinse it; however, the case may vary with commercial products, so it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines.

How Can I Make My Old Hardwood Floors Look Better Without Refinishing?

If you have already cleaned your hardwood floors but you can’t get the hang of it yet as you think it lacks something, you will need to try a few other steps.

Cleaning does not mean that your hardwood floors will regain their shine and old luscious appearance.

However, if you want them to achieve this, follow the methods mentioned below and you will be just fine.

Buff The Floors For A Shinier Appearance

Frequently, the finish on your hardwood floors gets dull and gives a different appearance than before. In such situations, refinishing the floors is not a suitable option.

However, you might get relevant results if you work on buffing the floors. The key to making hardwood floors look new is timely maintenance and regular cleaning.

You must pay attention to various factors such as wiping spills immediately, cleaning daily, polishing, and deep cleaning every 2 weeks while scrubbing the floors once a month.

Even if your hardwood floors are in the worst condition, they will regain their original look once cleaned and maintained on time.

If you don’t want to refinish your hardwood floors but still want to restore them, try buffing the surface a few times, as it might clear out any trapped moisture and bring back the shiny appearance again.

However, there are a few other ways to counter this problem too:

  • Polishing and buffing the floors using a commercial-grade buffer is a reasonable option if your sealant (polyurethane or wax) has been applied for some time and receives constant heavy traffic.
  • If your hardwood floors are not sealed, try using a polishing sealant which will not only add a protective coat but also give a shine to the boards, making them appear more attractive and enriching their luster.
  • If you have stains or marks on the hardwood floors, try spot-cleaning them with either toothpaste and cloth or a homemade cleaning solution.
  • If you want a glossy finish to your hardwood floors, you can use an oil soap to give you the finish you want. Murphy’s Oil Soap can make hardwood floors glossy.

Use An Abrasion Kit For An Enhanced Look

Using an abrasion kit is your way-to-go option if you don’t want to get into the hassle of refinishing the floors.

The abrasion kit has all the necessary chemicals to remove the unwanted buildups, clean the surface, polish it, and finish at the end to seal the deal.

You don’t have to go into unwanted steps full of hassle and requiring too much effort. Get an abrasion kit from the market, and you can DIY the restoration project of your hardwood floors.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning old hardwood floors is neither difficult nor expensive if you don’t want to refinish them. Sometimes you need to implement the formula of penny wise and pound foolish.

You can easily clean and shine your hardwood floorings using the techniques discussed earlier. Hence, make sure to use them and avoid spending money on refinishing unnecessarily.

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