Cleaning wood floors

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Cleaning wood floors

Postby scadamy » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:01 pm

Here's what I hope will be an easy question. I had the oak floors in my 1921 bungalow restored about 5 years ago. I honestly don't know how they're finished, but I seem to remember that the guy used an old-school method like stain & polyeurethane. When I mop with Murphy's the floors look dull afterwards. What should I be using to clean/shine them? Anyone have good luck with any products out there? Thanks for any help you can give.

Shelley
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Postby northbynorth » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:44 pm

Murphy's leaves a residue behind that dulls finishes. Protects maybe? But dulls yes. I suppose care depends a bit on how your floors are sealed, but first you'll need to get that residue off the floors.

I'm old fashion and used what my grandma did: a solution of white vinegar and water (about 1cup per bucket) on our floors. Mopped with the driest-damp mop possible and buff the floors dry with soft, cotton shop clothes. Water is the enemy after all! The vinegar smell disappears quickly. It's cheap, pet & kid friendly, and does a great job.

Quite a few people here use wax or WoodPreen on their floors. Wood Preen has a cleaning agent in it, but I don't know if it would do the trick against an oily residue like Murphy's.

I'm sure more people will chime in with ideas. :)
Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.- Will Rogers
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Postby BrooklynRowHouse » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:37 pm

You really shouldn't use any chemicals on a urethane floor, including things like ammonia. It's not just that they leave residues but can actually soften and dull the finish.

Warm water and white vinegar is the best routine cleaner. It doesn't do a great job of cleaning a grimy floor so there are wood floor cleaners made expressly for urethane floors. Pledge has one, Minwax another. But these should also be rinsed off with water and white vinegar because they leave a film as well.

PS: the white vinegar is mostly to prevent water spots.
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Postby toddinny » Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:13 pm

Bruce's floor cleaner in a Swifter wet mop container (pour the cleaner that comes with it into something else and get the refill bottle of Bruce's) You can find it at HD and L's

The new swifter wet mop needs batteries for the spray part. Makes cleaning the floors a breeze and they look great.
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Postby S Melissa » Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:38 pm

White vinegar and water - ratio's mentioned above are about right. Murphy';s is a NO NO on floors. Great for dashboards of cars tho!

It might take a couple of washings with the vinegar and water to get the murphys off - then, you can try the Bruce's stuff as ToddNRudy suggested. I've not tried that - my floors are pretty rough anyway - so I cannot comment - but from pics of their home and experience I'd trust their advice.
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Postby lrkrgrrl » Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:08 pm

Wood Preen has a cleaning agent in it, but I don't know if it would do the trick against an oily residue like Murphy's.


Wood Preen is a wax product, basically wax suspended in mineral spirits. It can "dry-clean" and wax at the same time. However, most poly makers, and wax makers, actually don't recommend that you wax polyurethane. I've done it, though. You would need to clean the soap scum off first. Vinegar and water...and, as penance for a)using that gunk in the first place, and b) ignoring that even Murphy says on the bottle "don't use on floors".....you should get down on your knees and clean that floor by hand. Mops are for cheaters. 8)
"Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!"
(H. Melville, Moby Dick, Ch. 32)
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Postby angolito » Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:22 pm

8) ahhhhh :twisted: the infamous :shock: three bucket method. i vote for that. mops are for touch-ups only.
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Postby toddinny » Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:30 pm

It might take a couple of washings with the vinegar and water to get the murphys off - then, you can try the Bruce's stuff as ToddNRudy suggested. I've not tried that - my floors are pretty rough anyway - so I cannot comment - but from pics of their home and experience I'd trust their advice.


Now I have to be careful about what I say! Thanks Melissa! :lol: :oops:
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Postby S Melissa » Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:14 pm

TnR - You betcha!!
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Postby Beth A » Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:19 pm

Murphy's Oilsoap is actually pretty noxious stuff made with potassium hydroxide. Perhaps not the best floor cleaner, although my stepmother swears by it. I vote for the white vinegar wash, as it would also neutralize the alkaline film that the oilsoap left.
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