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Can You Clean Hardwood Floors With Vinegar? Is It a Good Idea?

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Hardwood floors are exquisite, elegant, and lovely to look at. Aesthetics aside, they’re also sturdy and warm and can last a lifetime if you take good care of them. But that’s where the problem comes in.

While hardwood floors are built to last, they’re also delicate and require special care. You can’t just mop them with whatever cleaner you have in hand. So, what about vinegar?

Can you clean hardwood floors with vinegar?

There’s plenty of debate over whether or not hardwood floors should be cleaned with vinegar. Some people swear by it, while others think it’s a bad idea. So, what’s the truth? Keep reading to find out.

flooring divider

Is Vinegar Okay for Hardwood Floors?

The short answer is no, but there’s a lot more to it.

You see, vinegar is an acidic substance, and hardwood floors are sensitive to acid. The vinegar can eat away at the finish on your hardwood floors, leaving them dull and lifeless.

It can also strip away the natural oils from your hardwood floors, leaving them dry and brittle. Over time, this can cause the floors to crack and splinter.

So, while vinegar is an effective cleaning product, it’s not a good idea to use it on hardwood floors. Avoid it if possible.

Vinegar
Image Credit: evita-ochel, Pixabay

What If I Clean My Floors With Vinegar? What Will Happen?

Using vinegar to clean your floors doesn’t have an immediate effect. In fact, in most cases, you’ll notice your floor becoming a tad shinier after cleaning it with vinegar. That’s because it removes dirt and grime, making your floor sparkle.

However, this is only a temporary effect. Over time, the acidic nature of vinegar will eat away at your hardwood floors, dulling them. Also, the harshness of vinegar can strip away the rich, natural oils from your hardwood floors, leaving them bare and barren.

If you have floorboards, you might notice them cupping gradually after cleaning with vinegar. You’ll also notice the board starting to peel at their ends or between them. As more and more vinegar dissolves into the wood, it ultimately leads to warping. It also corrodes hardwood hence the peeling.

What Should You Use Instead?

If hardwood floors and vinegar don’t mix, then what should you use to clean your hardwood floors? The best thing to use is a gentle, pH-neutral cleaner. These cleaners are designed specifically for hardwood floors and won’t damage the delicate finish.

In addition, hardwood floor cleaners don’t strip away the natural oils from your hardwood floors. This helps to keep them healthy and looking their best.

cleaning the floor
Image Credit: Andrew Angelov, Shutterstock

Is It Ever Okay to Use Vinegar to Clean Hardwood Floors?

Yes, there are some cases where you may need to use vinegar to clean your hardwood floors. For instance, when:

  • You Have Excess Grime on Your Floor: If your hardwood floors are extra dirty, you can use a vinegar-based cleaner. Just be sure to rinse the area well afterward and follow up with a pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaner. Also, you might want to add some water to the cleaner to dilute the vinegar’s acid.
  • You Have (Very) Stubborn Stains: You can try using vinegar if you have a hard-to-remove stain on your hardwood floors. Just be sure to spot tests in an inconspicuous area first, and always follow up with a hardwood floor cleaner.
  • You Need to Disinfect Your Floors: Vinegar is a great natural disinfectant, so if you need to clean and disinfect your hardwood floors, you can use a vinegar-based cleaner. Just be sure to rinse the area well afterward.
man cleaning wooden floor
Image Credit: ercan senkaya, Shutterstock

How to Use Vinegar on Your Hardwood Floors

While you can use vinegar on your hardwood floors, it’s not something that you should do on a regular basis. In fact, you should only use it in cases of extreme dirt or grime. If you’re going to use vinegar, here’s how you should use it.

By Hand With a Cloth and Bucket

For this method, you'll need:

Start by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water in your bucket. Then, dip your cleaning cloth into the mixture and wring it out so that it’s damp but not dripping.

Next, scrub your hardwood floors with the damp cloth, working in small sections. Be sure to rinse the area well afterward and follow up with a hardwood floor cleaner.

Woman is cleaning the floor
Image Credit: VSstockstudio, Shutterstock

With a Spray Bottle and Microfiber Mop

For this method, you'll need:
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber mop

Start by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water in your spray bottle. Then, mist your hardwood floors with the mixture and start mopping. Be sure to rinse the area well afterward and top it off with a dab of hardwood floor cleaner.

cropped woman cleaning wood surface with blue cloth and spray cleaner
Image Credit: Kmpzzz, Shutterstock

With a Refillable Spray Mop

For this method, you'll need:
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A refillable spray mop (like the Swiffer WetJet)

Start by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water in your refillable spray mop. Then, start mopping your hardwood floors with the mixture. Be sure to rinse the area well afterward and top it off with a hardwood floor cleaner.

cleaning wooden floor
Image Credit: Mia Stendal, Shutterstock

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Use Vinegar Only When Necessary

While vinegar can be used to clean hardwood floors, it’s not something that should be done on a regular basis. There are plenty of other hardwood floor cleaners on the market that do an excellent job without causing any damage.

So, next time you’re looking to give your floors a good cleaning, reach for a hardwood floor cleaner instead of vinegar. Your wood will thank you for it!


Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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