Can You Use Bleach on Hardwood Floors?

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can you use bleach on hardwood floors

Bleach is a powerful cleaner – it’s incredible at wiping out germs, cleaning mildew off hard surfaces, and even keeping clothes white.

But can you use bleach to clean your hardwood floors? Truthfully, it’s not the best idea. Here’s what you need to know.

Is it Safe to Use Bleach on Wood Floors? What to Know

Hardwood floors usually have a topcoat on them that repels moisture. Since bleach is corrosive, it can eat away at this topcoat. If this happens, the bleach will penetrate the boards and lighten or weaken your flooring.

There are some instances where using small amounts of bleach to disinfect or remove mold may be okay, but you should never use bleach on your floors without first spot testing.

How to Use Bleach to Disinfect Hardwood Floors

If you want to disinfect your floors, the best thing you can use is a disinfectant cleaner formulated specifically for hardwood floors. These cleaners will be able to sanitize without chipping away at the topcoat and potentially damaging your floors.

If you’re set on using bleach to disinfect your hardwood floors and aren’t worried about the potential damage, here’s what to do:

  • Add ¾ cup of bleach to one gallon of water (per Clorox)
  • Wipe down your floor with the mixture in small sections
  • Let sit for five minutes
  • Rinse off with a wet rag or mop
  • Air dry

It’s essential to do a patch test before cleaning your entire floor with this solution. And remember, if you’re going to use bleach on your floors, make sure that it is heavily diluted.

If your floors haven’t been sealed, you should altogether avoid using any type of bleach solution on them.

How to Use Bleach to Remove Mold and Mildew from Hardwood Floors

Sometimes spills or urine can result in mold and mildew, which leaves dark spots on hardwoods. If this has happened to your floors, you may be able to use bleach to treat it. Even if the bleach doesn’t remove the mildew, it can help prevent it from spreading.

Here’s what to do:

  • Fill a spray bottle with an 8:1 ratio of bleach to water
  • Spray the solution on the mold or mildew
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes
  • Wipe the solution off with a rag
Be sure to perform a spot test on your floor in an inconspicuous area before trying this in a place that is heavily trafficked. If your floors are old or the floor finish is worn down, the bleach may lighten the area you treat.

If your floors are covered with mold, mildew, or unsightly marks, check out our guide to refinishing hardwood floors to get an idea of the costs involved.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq bleach on hardwood floor

What will happen to my wood floors if I use bleach on them?

Bleach is corrosive and can eat away at the finish of your floor. If it does this, it will seep into the wood floor.

After the bleach has penetrated your floorboards, it can lighten or weaken them. If you ever use bleach on your wood floors, you should heavily dilute it with water.

How can I disinfect hardwood floors?

You can disinfect your floors with a cleaner meant to sanitize wood floors. If your floors are sealed (i.e., have a topcoat), try Lysol or Bona.

If your floors aren’t sealed, you won’t be able to disinfect them. You should only sweep and dry mop unsealed floors since they can absorb the moisture from cleaning solutions.

Can I use bleach on laminate wood floors?

You should avoid using bleach on laminate – it causes the same kind of problems as it does in hardwood floors. If you use bleach on your laminate flooring, it may eat the topcoat and penetrate the floorboards, causing permanent damage and possible warping.


If you’re wondering – can I use bleach on hardwood floors? The answer is you can, but you shouldn’t.

There are much safer ways to disinfect your hardwoods than using bleach. Next time you’re at the home improvement store, pick up some cleaner made for disinfecting hardwoods. It will be much safer than whipping up a bleach concoction.

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Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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