Cleaning Wood Floors with Vinegar: The Best Natural Cleaner?

cleaning hardwood floors with vinegarThe most hotly debated topic regarding wood floors is not about which wood is best or the most beautiful. That’s a topic that relies mostly on personal preferences and overall interior home design. The real debate is whether cleaning wood floors with vinegar is really a good idea or not.

Mane homeowners and old-timers claim that cleaning hard wood floors with vinegar is the best way. On the other hand, many other experts warn about the use of water and vinegar. Since this is supposed to be something that should be easily figured out objectively, let’s take a closer look at the matter.

The Benefits of Using Water and Vinegar to Clean Wood Floors

Using a natural hardwood floor cleaner offers several benefits for ordinary homeowners. The first and most obvious reason to use this is because it’s very cheap. You don’t have to pay good money for branded cleaning products when you have such handy materials already with you.

There’s also the fact that water and vinegar are obviously safe. Many household cleaning products are not. They have chemicals which can prove harmful when breathed in, they can be bad for the eyes, and they may not all that safe to touch. Sometimes two different cleaning products can be accidentally mixed to produce toxic fumes.

Many also attest that using water and vinegar for wood floors is actually simple and very effective. When done right, grime and dirt can be removed without damaging the finish. It’s also free from streaks.

Using Water and Vinegar

Vinegar is used as a floor cleaner because it contains acetic acid. It’s this ingredient that helps you remove the grime and dirt without any problematic residue.

So here’s how to clean hardwood floors with vinegar. Some experts suggest a mix of a half cup of white vinegar to a gallon of warm water in a bucket. Then you can use a sponge mop, preferably one that comes with a spring-type wringer. For small areas, you can use a cloth or a sponge using the water and vinegar solution, while for dry and sticky spills you can use a semi-abrasive pad.

how to clean wood floors with vinegarThe number one rule to remember is that it is imperative that you wring out as much water as you can from the mop before you put it to use on your wood floor. If you’re cleaning with a mop and there are water puddles, then you’ve got too much water. You need to get down on the floor and use a clean absorbent towel or cloth to wipe off the moisture.

This is why many proponents of the water and vinegar mix for hardwood floors insist that commercial cotton mops should be avoided. They will definitely do harm to your wood floor because it’s almost impossible to wring out the water from them.

Now for most people, the real “time-tested” way of doing this is by getting down on your hands and knees, preferably with a microfiber cloth that’s only slightly damp with the water and vinegar solution. But that is seriously unpleasant for many people, and the smell of the vinegar may be off-putting as well. For some, the best option is to use a microfiber mop, but the same principle of using only slightly damp cloths applies here too.

The Cons of Using Water and Vinegar

Many experts do acknowledge that water and vinegar is a great option for a DIY cleaner. It can really clean a lot of stuff such as windows, the water and vinegar is cheap, and the environment isn’t damaged.

But they do warn against the use of water and vinegar for hardwood floors. Too many people don’t really know how to clean wood floors with vinegar properly, and that causes damage to wood floors.

The main problem is that often people make mistakes by using too much water. For hardwood floors, water is anathema. It’s like Kryptonite for Superman. It’s the one substance that can really damage wood floors, which is why many experts tell you to immediately mop up any water that spills onto your wood floor. When you use too much water on your floor, the wood will swell up and warp. The water may also discolor the wood floor as well.

The vinegar is also a problem for some proponents of commercial cleaning products. Cleaning hardwood floors isn’t actually about cleaning the wood, but cleaning the finish of the wood. The finish is that chemical layer that protects the hardwood floor.

The problem with vinegar is that it is an acid. So what it really does is break down the finish on the floor surface. Eventually, the shine of the hardwood floor decreases and it looks dull. While this will happen whether or not you use vinegar, the use of vinegar may speed up the process.

How Should You Clean Your Hardwood Floor?

Whether or not you use water and vinegar as a cleaning solution for your hardwood floor, there are some things you can do regardless. You have to sweep and vacuum the floor regularly, so that you can remove all the dirt and grime that damages hardwood floors by acting as sandpaper.

You should also prioritize the use of microfiber cloths, as they don’t attract lint. They’re non-abrasive and they’re very effective at lifting dirt from the surface. They can last for hundreds of washings, and they’re hypoallergenic.

When using a cleaning product, it may be a good idea to use a fine spray mist. You can use this with the water and vinegar as well. The great thing about water and vinegar is that it can be used to clean many things around the home. While there’s disagreement as to whether you can use water and vinegar for hardwood floors, there’s no debate that as a general cleaning solution for windows and ovens and glass items water and vinegar truly works well.


The probably reason for the disagreement about water and vinegar is that most people simply make mistakes. So use just enough water and vinegar and make sure you don’t soak your floors.

But if you want to be sure about whether water and vinegar is better for your particular floor than your favorite cleaning product, you can always do your own experiment. Use water and vinegar for a small section of the floor, and then use your commercial cleaner for another section. That should give you a definite answer as to whither cleaning wood floors with vinegar is really a good idea!