Cleaning Old Floors Without Refinishing: The Easy 2 Step Process

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cleaning old floors without refinishing

If you have 50+-year-old wood floors in your home, no doubt they’ve seen their fair share of dirt and wear.

But if you want them to look good again, do you need to go through the trouble of refinishing? Not necessarily.

If you’re interested in cleaning old floors without refinishing, try these tips to restore them back to their original shine.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Old Floors Without Refinishing?

The best way to make your old floors look great without refinishing is to use a store-bought restoration kit or DIY your own. If you’re interested in a DIY solution, start by sweeping and mopping your floors. Next, spot treat any stains. For the final step, use a hardwood floor polish to restore the shine to your flooring.

Do I Need to Refinish Old Wood Floors?

Refinishing wood floors involves sanding the top layer off and then restaining and sealing. 

There’s no doubt – refinishing is the best way to bring your floors back to life and make them look new again. However, refinishing can be expensive and isn’t always possible.

If you can’t refinish, you have two other options: clean and shine the floors or use a restoration kit.

Restoration kits are DIY and a little more intensive than simply cleaning and polishing. These kits come with supplies to clean the floors, fill in small divots, and add a topcoat. However, they don’t change the color of your floor.

You can find wood floor restoration kits at any major home improvement store or online. Two options worth checking out are the Rejuvenate Restoration Kit and the Rustoleum Restoration Kit.

The other way to make your old floors look good again is to give them a deep cleaning and polish them, which we’ll cover below.

How to Bring Old Floors Back to Life in Two Steps

how to bring old floors back to life

If you want to clean your old wood floors without refinishing them, here’s what to do.

Clean the Wood Floors

You have a few good options when it comes to cleaning old wood floors. But no matter your choice, you need to begin by thoroughly sweeping or vacuuming. Then you can move on to mopping.

Here are the best options:

Steam mop if your floor still has a topcoat. Steam mops are safe for hardwood floors that still have their top coat intact. If this is true for your floor and you have a steam mop, use it on your hardwoods. Steam mops are incredibly effective at lifting stuck-on dirt.

Use a commercial cleaner if your floor doesn’t have much build-up. If your floors are old but not necessarily dirty, use a regular commercial hardwood floor cleaner. These cleaners are Ph balanced for wood and are the safest option.

Use vinegar and water if your floor has a ton of buildup. If you don’t have a steam mop and deal with a floor that has gunky buildup, clean it with vinegar and water. Simply mix a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar and mop your floors with it.

Spot Treat Stains

One of the most effective ways to remove stains from hardwoods is by using hydrogen peroxide.

But, because peroxide can potentially lighten your floor, you’ll want to do a spot test in an inconspicuous area first. This method works best for black spots or mold stains on the floor.

Here’s how to treat your hardwood floor stain with peroxide:

  • Dab the stains with hydrogen peroxide
  • Allow the peroxide to completely dry
  • The stain should lift as the peroxide dries – if not, you can repeat

If you’re dealing with pet urine stains rather than black mold, try Simple Solution Odor and Stain Remover.

Shine the Wood Floors

Once you’ve swept, mopped, and removed the stains, it’s time to shine the wood floors. 

To do so, use a commercial hardwood floor polish or make your own. 

Here’s how to make your own floor polish:

  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 TBS White Distilled Vinegar
  • Essential Oils (Optional)
Mix the ingredients and mop with a microfiber mop or use a microfiber cloth to apply the solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq cleaning old floors without refinishing

What is the best thing to use to clean wood floors?

The best thing to clean wood floors is Ph neutral cleaners specially meant for wood. Alternatively, if your floors have a topcoat, you can use a steam mop to leave the floors incredibly clean and sanitized.

Are wet Swiffers bad for hardwood floors?

While the Swiffer solution is safe for hardwood floors, some users report a cloudy haze left behind after several uses. This is usually the result of the cleaner not being diluted enough. You can remove this hazy build-up by mopping with vinegar and water.

How can I make my floor shine without wax?

If you want your floor to shine, try a store-bought hardwood floor polish. These polishes are generally safe for all finishes and easy to apply. 

If you prefer a homemade solution, try our DIY wood floor polish. All you need to do is combine olive oil, water, vinegar, and essential oils and then mop it on the floor.


If you’re interested in cleaning old floors without refinishing, you can. Start by giving your floors a thorough sweep and then mop them with an appropriate solution. Afterward, spot treat all the stains and shine your floors with a polish.

Alternatively, you can purchase a restoration kit from any hardware store that will include supplies to get your floors super clean and shiny.

Photo of author


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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