Are your hardwood floors looking gray and dingy?

After years of cleaning my hardwood oak floors with products such as Mop & Glo, QuickShine, etc. they had a grayish-green tint to them and never looked clean. Researching what to do without having to completely sand them down and have them refinished, I found that AMMONIA would do the trick.

Warning: Be careful. Use ammonia in a well-ventilated area, as the fumes are awful, and do not let it sit too long on the wood or it will darken it.

Cleaning old buildup products off hardwood floors, Bluestone Decorating
This photo shows the area I had cleaned next to the work I still had to do.

How I did it: Put ammonia into a spray bottle. I used it straight. Spray on floor in a 2×2′ section. Let sit about 30-60 seconds. Using a plastic putty knife, gently scrape the old floor “cleaner” build-up off the floor. Don’t dig in or you can scratch your floor. Immediately wipe up with paper towels, or if it’s sitting on the putty knife, put in wastebasket. Wipe floor with clean water immediately and move to next section. If necessary, repeat in sections that are tougher.

While it’s very time-consuming, it’s not hard. Work one section at a time, and don’t ever use those cleaners again on wood floors.

Don’t make the same mistake I did, either – if your hardwood floors only have a satin finish on them, putting a product on them to make them “high gloss” will do more damage than good. Clean them as directed by your floor finisher.

Disclaimer: Test your process in a hidden area before attempting to do an entire room. I am not responsible for your results, I’m sharing with you the process I used to clean my own floors, based on years of knowledge in woodworking. Use at your own risk. And sad I have to say that here. 🙁

note: This was an article I originally published in 2013 for Charles Neil’s blog. Since that time, I opted to take out my hardwood floors in the kitchen (extreme scratching and denting from years of dropping things, as well as my beloved Corgi’s long nails had made them look awful). Please consider the wear & tear that can happen to hardwood floors in a kitchen before deciding that it’s the best flooring choice for your home.

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