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Best way to clean old wood floors?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
The wood floors we have in our apartment are over 100 years old and after living here a year I have still not been able to get them *really* clean and I am not anal about cleaning by any means. I have tried a sponge mop and bucket but the water turned black almost immediately and the sponge wore out after 2 entire moppings of the apartment. I also tried the Swiffer Wet but, again, the little disposable pad turned black after 1 room and I don't feel like it got them very clean at all. I think the floors were finished at some point but they are so old and scuffed and scarred I am wary about what types of cleaners I put on it. Also, I have a 13 month old so its helpful if whatever I'm cleaning it with is green and non-toxic because he's into whatever I'm doing! Any ideas would be appreciated... I have apple cider vinegar, dawn, salt and water if anyone has any magical cleaning solution recipes! Or if anyone has any suggestions on the method (mop, rag, etc.) that would get them cleaner quicker and better would be great. Thanks so much!
post #2 of 11
get rugs. you won't ever be able to get them 100% clean.. and mopping really old floors with a messed up finish is bad for them. I live in an apartment with beat up old hard woods, too.
post #3 of 11
I personally avoid rugs, they trap more dirt than any other type of flooring out there, your hardwood floor will be cleaner, even if it looks worn out, than a rug after the rug has been used for a while. I use microfiber clothes on a mop and they haven't been replaced in the 5 years I've had them. Is it possible that the floor needs just to be oiled or something. Older floors need this about every 2 years sometimes......just a thought!
post #4 of 11
Just lurking, you just described my floors.
post #5 of 11
I have the same floors--the best cleaning solution I can recommend is vinegar water. Every 4 years or so old wood floors need a spiff-up--a quick sanding and a new couple coats of poly. That's the best solution, anyway, could you work something out with the landlord? Cost me about $100 for sander rental and poly the last time I did three rooms. Well worth it with a big dog and a babe around here.
Oh, and I also wash the floors the old fashioned way--rag and knees. I dump the water about twice to a room usually. (but it's always hairy, no matter how much I sweep)
post #6 of 11
I love Murphy's Oil Soap, it's natural(vegetable oil)and the smell brings back good childhood memories, so for me it's the only choice! My floors love it!
post #7 of 11
lana! when you did your own floors, what did you do with the furniture? did you guys temporarily move out of your apartment, or how did you keep everyone off the floors while the coats of poly dried? how long did one room take from start (first pass with sander) to finish (last coat of poly dried enough to move furniture back into room)? like five days? did you have to use a smaller sander to get right up to the edges of the floor and did you damage the baseboards (and have to repaint them)?

i *thought* i was going to refinish my floors until i found out how much work it was going to be, and it didn't sound possible to do while living in the house (with a dog and two babes). i would love to hear how it all worked for you, because if there's an easier way to do it, i'm there!

eta: op, i use murphy's oil soap and a rag.
post #8 of 11
I have a Hoover Floor Mate, which I love for this. I don't have the newer one with the scrub brushes, the model I have just squirts the hot water onto the floor then vacuums it back up. It does turn black fairly quickly, but since it has separate reservoirs for the clean and dirty water, that's fine. If it's been a while since I did it, I might have to put fresh water in each time I move to a new room.

Beyond that, I'd do it the old-fashioned way... water, scrub brush, hands and knees, and lots of towels to get the water back up.

I don't do oil at all. After talking to a couple guys about having the floor refinished, oils and waxes are a bad idea. The bare floor (where the finish has worn off) will absorb the oil/wax and discolor the wood. So when you eventually sand/strip the floor, you will be able to see where the finish had been worn by the differently colored wood.
post #9 of 11
taking notes
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuttiebearmom View Post
I personally avoid rugs, they trap more dirt than any other type of flooring out there, your hardwood floor will be cleaner, even if it looks worn out, than a rug after the rug has been used for a while. I use microfiber clothes on a mop and they haven't been replaced in the 5 years I've had them. Is it possible that the floor needs just to be oiled or something. Older floors need this about every 2 years sometimes......just a thought!
my rugs don't turn the bottoms of my feet black, but the bare wood floors do.

I also wouldn't suggest oiling a floor with a damaged finish, OR washing it often.

I hope that the OP told the landlord about the damaged floor when she moved in, otherwise she might not only lose her security deposit and get stuck for a bill for refinishing - if you further damage the floor there's nothing to stop the landlord from suing you in small claims court.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
There is damage all over the floor... the management company of the building is well aware of this- it was used as an office building from about 1900-1991. I will ask them about refinishing/oiling or what they do for the floors during move-out/in clean-ups. For now I'm just going to sweep, spot clean and get a few rugs for entryways to at least trap people tracking in more dirt. Thanks for your replies!
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