The most popular post ever published on Nature’s Nurture is my Homemade Floor Cleaner – and for good reason! This cleaner totally rocks, and I use it to clean way more than just my floors. It’s also the post that brings in then most emails and comments from readers just like you.
I created this homemade floor cleaner question and answer to respond to some of the most frequently asked questions and comments I’ve received over the years. So let’s go!
Before we get started, a little disclaimer: As with any recipe for any cleaner that you find on any website or blog, please please PLEASE do a spot test in an inconspicuous area if you’re at all unsure about the recipe that you’re trying out. Bloggers like myself and others are only sharing this info as helpful advice, so we cannot be held responsible if something you’ve tried didn’t work like it was supposed to. Be diligent and test, test, test! 🙂
Can this cleaner be used on hardwood floors?
This is by far the most commonly discussed topic from the post, which is why I’m addressing it first. When I originally posted the homemade floor cleaner I had only used it on my laminate floors and tile.
But here’s where things get tricky and a little confusing. From what I’ve read (including numerous comments on the original post), this cleaner shouldn’t be used on real hardwood floors. Depending on who you listen to, some folks say the vinegar is too acidic and can break down and strip the protective finish (I think the problem might be the vinegar:water ratio). Others say it’s the alcohol that can degrade the finish. And yet others blame the few drops of dish soap. I’ve also read that if you have waxed hardwood floors, the vinegar will definitely remove the wax.
That being said, some people have chosen to use it on their finished hardwood floors and swear by it. Last year we moved into a new place with engineered hardwood floors, and I’ve been using this floor cleaner on them with no problem.
So, long story short: you’ll have to make a judgment call on this one. I can’t tell you whether or not to use this on your floors, but I can tell you to do some spot testing and possibly alter the recipe to play around with the ratios a bit.
For a great list of hardwood floor cleaners, check out this post from TipNut, including 6 different recipes to try, one of which is made with a strong brewed tea!
What about unfinished hardwood floors?
I would definitely NOT use this on unfinished hardwood because it’s very sensitive to excess moisture. Follow this link for an explanation on how to clean unfinished floors.
Will this cleaner warp the edges of my laminate floors?
Because of the way this cleaner is used, the floor never really gets “wet” since it gets wiped (and dried) right away. As long as you use a fine mist and wipe it up afterwards, the cleaner won’t have a chance to really penetrate and do any damage.
Will this cleaner shine my floors?
No, this cleaner is meant to clean, but not shine your floors. A few people mentioned how shiny my floors looked in the photo from my original post, but I’ve clarified that this cleaner will not shine your floors. The photos I took at the time were from a very low-traffic area in the house (it was the only place with good lighting for pictures), and our laminate floors already had a shiny look to begin with.
Another reader had this info to share about shining your wood floors:
“A few drops of olive oil in your damp-mopping water will help condition your bare-wood floors. Adding olive oil to white vinegar and applying a thin coat to your wood floor will restore its shine. A minimal amount of olive oil rubbed into your wood floor is all that is needed to maintain the luster of your wood floor. I did this to the cedar floor in our 3 season room and it came out wonderful.”
Can the recipe be adapted for a mop and bucket?
Yes! Several people have asked this question, and although I haven’t tried it myself, I did find a recipe online that seems like it would be comparable to this one. So if you want to use a mop and bucket, try this recipe:
For a gallon of water, add 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1/3 cup of alcohol, plus a few drops of dish soap.
Is this cleaner safe to use around pets?
The base of the recipe (water, alcohol, vinegar) is perfectly fine for use around pets, but there is concern that essential oils may be harmful if ingested by pets, especially cats.
Although essential oils, when used properly, have been used to treat many ailments in pets and humans alike, you should take precaution when using them around your furry friends, especially if they have compromised immune systems or other health issues.
As always, please do your own research and consult with your pet’s veterinarian or a licensed aromatherapist, if you have any concerns.
Can this work on other surfaces besides floors?
YES! That’s the best part about this wonderful cleaner – it works on practically every surface around the house! In my original post, I lovingly referred to this as the Ultimate All-Purpose Cleaner, and it really lives up to that name. I’ve gotten rid of every single cleaner that I used to use before discovering this miracle cleaner.
Here is a list of every surface I’ve cleaned with this cleaner:
- Floors – laminate, tile, linoleum
- Glass – Windows, mirrors, tables, etc.
- Cabinets and countertops (vinegar is too acidic for granite, so use this homemade granite cleaner instead)
- Stainless steel – appliances, faucets, sinks, etc.
- Walls, baseboards, window sills
- Porcelain and acrylic – toilets and sinks
- I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting!
What is the best way to use this all-purpose cleaner?
Of course you can always just spray and wipe up with a paper towel or a rag, but if you want to get the very best out of this cleaner, you’ll want to make sure you do a couple of things:
- ALWAYS use a microfiber cloth to wipe the surface you’re cleaning to get a good scrub and a streak-free clean. Read more about why I love and recommend microfiber here.
- When using this as a floor cleaner, make it easier on yourself and invest in one of the following refillable microfiber mops. You can fill up the container with this homemade cleaner, then just spray and mop to your heart’s content!
- O-Cedar ProMist Spray Mop
- Libman Freedom Spray Mop
- Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop
- Swiffer WetJet Spray Mop – If you already have a WetJet, you can remove the cleaner bottle and refill it with your cleaner of choice! Here’s a great Instructables tutorial that shows you exactly how to do it.
- Shark Steam Mop – Several people have also reported that they’ve used this cleaner in their Shark Steam Mop with great results! (Your results may vary, so use with caution.)
Do you have to use essential oils in the recipe?
No, you can most definitely use this recipe without adding the essential oils. The oils do give a nice scent, and they also provide some extra disinfecting power. If you don’t have the essential oils on hand, go ahead and make up the recipe, but you will absolutely notice a difference (at least in the scent) when you do add the oils. I get my essential oils from Plant Therapy or Mountain Rose Herbs.
Alright, I’ve tried the essential oils, and I still can’t get over that vinegar smell!
If the vinegar is just way too strong for you, and you don’t know what else to do, try making a vinegar enzyme cleaner. This recipe is all over the internet, and you may have come across it before:
Simply add some orange or lemon peels to a jar, then top off with vinegar. Store in a cupboard, and give the jar a good shake every few days. After 2 weeks just strain it and use that vinegar in this recipe – it will smell amazing!
I used this cleaner on my wood floors, and it left a white film on the floors. Help!
This is a common issue if you do choose to use this cleaner on your hardwoods. The problem is not so much from the homemade solution, but from the commercial cleaners that may have previously been used on your floors. The vinegar in the homemade solution will react to the ingredients in the commercial cleaners (waxes, oils, etc.), and leave a film or streaks.
It will take a few times of using the homemade solution for the vinegar to cut through and break down whatever has built up on the floors from the commercial cleaners. To be safe, avoid any laminate/wood floor cleaning products that say “shine” on it. (Thanks to several of our readers for that helpful bit of information!)
Another issue that might be causing the white film or “cloudiness” on your floors may be the minerals in your hard water. If you have hard water, make sure you’re using distilled water in this homemade cleaner.
What about heating the solution?
Though I’ve never tried this technique, a few people mentioned it so I thought it was worth sharing:
“I put my spray bottle (sprayer nozzle removed of course) in to the microwave for 1 min. It gets the solution very hot. I spray in little sections, clean with the microfiber cloths, and it looks great. The alcohol dries quick as is, but the added benefit of the heat dries even faster.”
A note on fabric softeners and microfiber
Never use fabric softeners or dryer sheets when washing your microfiber cloths because they’ll affect their ability to absorb liquids properly. I don’t use either of these products on any of our laundry anyways; instead, I just use some vinegar in the rinse cycle to keep our laundry fresh and soft.
And that’s all we have for now! I hope this Q&A post has helped to answer some of your questions, and don’t forget to check the original post for the full recipe and details!