Frequently Asked Questions

    How to clean hardwood floor that has gotten stained from water leak?
    The wool rug and pad underneath became saturated from air conditioner leaking into house rather than outside. This went on before we noticed what was happening. Now room stinks and hardwood floor is stained black. I threw rug out since it was saturated so long.

    • ANSWER:
      If it’s black then there is probably mold growing under and on it. I would think you’d need to replace the damaged area.

      If it were just water damage, then I’d say you could refinish the area. We have hardwood floors and had an a/c unit leak too. We caught it very early and only about a 2 foot x 2 foot area was affected. It made the wood buckle a little as it dried, so that area had to be replaced anyway.

    What is the best way to clean old hardwood floors?
    I live in a house over 250 years old. The hardwood floors are very old and not finished (by this I mean they’re not smooth, stained, or shiny like new hardwood) I’d like to be able to scrub them down because they’re very dirty but I’m worried about putting water on untreated wood. What would be a better solution? What cleaner would be best? What cleaning method would be best? I’d really like to get down and scrub the crap out of them, lol, but I don’t want to ruin them. Thanks!

    • ANSWER:
      If the floors are really not sealed up anymore then your best bet is to have them refinished. This will remove imperfections, and seal the floors back up.

    Is there some sort of sealant for hardwood floors?
    I just had my hardwood floors stained and refinished. They used a polyurethane semi gloss over the top but the floors look so flat and dull. Is there a coating or sealant that I could apply myself to bring some life back into the floors? And also would help me keep them clean.

    • ANSWER:
      WHat would need to be done is to buff the floor with a very light grit sanding screen and apply a glossier finish. If you are not experienced with running a buffer they do rent square buffers that are really easy to operate. After you go over the floor with the square buffer with a 150 grit screen on it. Clean the floors really good with a micro fiber dust mop that is dampened with mineral spirits. Then apply a coating of a glossier polyurethane, or water based finish. To apply the finish use a lambswool applicator and apply it very thin. Keep in mind that the glossier the finish is the less forgiving it is with application marks. If this sounds like to much ask your wood floor contractor to come out and recoat the floors again for a discounted rate. This happens to me fairly often and often times if I am in the area I will do it for the cost of the finish. Do not use any products such as orange glow, pledge, murphys oil soap etc. All of these products will prevent the floor from being able to be recoated in the future.

    Hardwood floor pet stain- can you recommend the best cleaning service?
    I need someone to come clean a pet-stained hardwood floor ASAP. They need to be able to get a cat pee stain out of a hardwood floor. Bonus if they can do the rest of the move-out clean but this is the most important.

    • ANSWER:
      If you stained your hardwood and it turned black, no cleaning service will help you, .
      You have to resand the floor, and that means the whole floor, and put new varnish on it,
      If the stain went in the wood deep you might have to replace the boards that are stained and then sand the whole thing and revrnish.
      sorry to be the bringer of bad news
      good luck

    How do I clean original hardwood floors?
    We just discovered the original hardwood floors in our home, approx. 40 years old. They are a stained wood and in great condition. But now I need to know, how do I wash them on a regular (once or twice a month) basis?

    • ANSWER:
      If the floors have a lot of wax build up you are going to have to get a wax stripper for wood they sell it at any hardware store if the floors are new or are the laminate flooring with the impregnated finish use just soap and water then dry with a sponge mop after rinsing the soap off .wood is very easy to clean if it is cared for do not use liquid gold or anyother polish a good detergent for wood products is Murphys Oil Soap it is made for wood follow the directions.

    How can I clean carpet residue off of hardwood floors?
    I just purchased a 45-year-old home and the previous owners installed carpet over the hardwood floors. They ripped it up before selling it to us and the carpet pad left residue in high traffic areas. It looks like the floors have stains in some of those high-traffic areas as well. Does anyone have any suggestions as to the best way of cleaning this? We don’t have much time to do extensive work on the floors before moving in because we also have to paint all the interior walls. Any suggestions?

    • ANSWER:
      Pick up a floor sander and take the wood down to wood then do what ever finishing you plan on. After this step then go ahead and do your painting. Sanding will take off any inconsistencies such as warped boards, stains or small divots in the wood. It will also bring out the grain and bring out the character of the wood. Sanding is about the only way you will be able to remove the glue that was used. Be careful here, sand with the grain or risk causing yourself a lot more work than planned.
      Please watch for such as nails and staples, these will raise cain with a sanding disk or drum and pose a small problem with finish consistency.

    How do you clean carpet that is over HardWood Floors?
    How do you clean carpet that is over HardWood Floors?
    Question Details: We have hardwood floors, however majority of the flooring has a nice fluffy carpeting (bedroom/livingroom/dinin… How do we clean the carpet without ruining the hardwood underneath? We MUST clean the carpet – the dog got very sick today.

    Thank you!

    • ANSWER:
      You might just have to replace it.

      You could try some spot cleaning in everyplace he left a stain.

    What cleaner to use on unfinished oak hardwood floors?
    The hardwood floor in our bedroom badly needs to be re-waxed. You can see some darker areas of where the previous owner had water spilled, where finish is coming off, pet stains, etc.

    Until we have the money to do so I was wondering what the best way to clean it was without damaging the floor any more.

    It’s a mixed wood floor.

    • ANSWER:
      Nothing you can do besides sweep an unfinished oak. Any liquids you put on it will be absorbed into the oak. Any water you put on it will cause deep dark spots ( as you know).
      Any questions you can e mail me through my avatar. GL

    How to clean urine from hardwood floors?
    I have dark hardwood floors, they looked varnished over.. so I can mop them rather well. I moved a piece of furniture and realized my dog had peed there and there was a big dark stain that I can’t get out now.

    Im curious how can I remove this stain.. there isnt a smell but the dark spot is obvious if you were looking in that direction.

    Please help, I don’t want to lose my deposit.. anything I can do make it less noticeable if I can’t remove it completely?

    Serious question… save the jokes for the Comedy Store!

    • ANSWER:
      big dark stain. you can’t clean it, the urine has eaten into the polyurethane finish and stained the wood.

    How can I get scratches and stains out of my Hardwood Floor?
    I can’t afford to have someone professionally get the scratches and stains out of my blond hardwood floors. Is there a machine or a cleaning or staining product(s) I can use to make them look nicer?

    • ANSWER:
      Try using Howard’s Restore A Finish or Fornbeys first. Howards comes in a clear or in stain colors to match the floor. Fornbeys is a kit that cleans, fills and protects wood in a three step process. Howards is a wipe on one step process and is easier to use. You will get pretty good results with either.

    How long do you have to wait after polyurethaning hardwood floors before you put furniture on them?
    We have done the first coat of fast-drying poly on newly stained hardwood floors. The can says this stuff should dry in 3-4 hrs. We’re on hour 8 and it’s still tacky. Temp is at 72 deg and fans are blowing. Anyway, we still have to do another coat, and wait for that to dry. We thought we’d be good to go by this evening, but the can says you then have to wait another 72 hours before putting furniture on it! we started this whole process 3 days ago. Since we have all our furniture in the kitchen and living room, and have a 5 yr old and 3 yr old, this is chaos! Do we really have to wait 72 hours or is this an overcautious just-in-case-we-get-sued manufacturers direction?
    Thanks for the recommendation to be patient. We realize that we’re in for the long haul.

    To the person who seems to think that they are the only one with a brain:
    1) My kids have nothing to do with you. A goofed up DIY process has nothing to fo with good parenting skills. And yes, they were elsewhere. Sheesh. It is precisely because I need to get them back in their own rooms that I’m asking this question.
    2) Like I SAID, we bought the super-fast drying poly and asked the guy at the store to explain the process to us. He only mentioned the 3-4 hr drying time, nothing about 72 hrs. We read the tiny print on the can as much as we could, and trusted him for the rest. It was only in double-checking before we applied the first coat, that we realized the 72 hrs was required.
    3) We’re using safety equipment.
    4) Why would you feel the need to attack us from a simple DIY goof-up question? Don’t try to figure out our lives from one short, simple question – JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION!!!!!!!

    • ANSWER:
      Actually I’d go even longer than the directions as furniture is weight and it would really stink to do ALL THAT WORK just to move the chairs in a few weeks to clean and come to realize the finish came up with the feet of the chair.

      Being winter, the moisture level is higher in the air so it takes longer for things to dry. Best bet is to hand the kids off to someone, crank the heat up to 80 in the place and late tonight put the 2nd coat down. Then go stay at a hotel for a few days while the house is set at 80 to cure it all good.

      Quality is never a rushed job.

    How to prevent scratches and stains in hardwood floors?
    We are in a new house that is supposed to have oiled hardwood floors. When I sweep it, little white dust like particles sweep up. They also scratch when anything is pushed lightly across it and also shows black stains when water has been on it overnight.
    I have tried all kinds of oil to the scratches but it doesn’t help. It’s like it wasn’t finished completely…I hope someone can help me.

    • ANSWER:
      The only thing I do is try to keep my hardwood floors clean. I use a swifter mop to clean with. As far as scratches go, you have to remember not to drag anything as it will scratch. Hardwood floors are great but take a lot of care.

    What cleaning products can i use to scrub my hardwood floors?
    My apartment has hardwood floors that I love, but I’m just not sure on how to scrub them as i don’t want to cause them damage. I know about Murphy’s Wood Soap, but is there anything else out there that will work as well?

    • ANSWER:
      Here are some hardwood floor cleaners available, but a neutral cleanser (i.e., neither too low or too high a pH level) and water will do the job just as effectively. The hardwood floor must be properly sealed before any mopping. If there are worn patches, do not use water, as the liquid can penetrate the wood and cause warping. Most hardwood floors are now finished using a surface finish called polyurethane. These floors look glossy and shiny. It looks like a plastic coating over the wood and is extremely hard wearing. Another finish, called penetrating seals, consists of wax or oil finishes that penetrate the wood and protect from within. A little alcohol can also be used to remove stains from clean hardwood floors. Finish off by polishing and buffing. If the stain remains, then sanding down the area may be the only option in order to remove it. Some people also use a floor polish to add a shine to the floors. If wax or polish is used regularly, there may be a problem with adhesion when it comes to recoating the hardwood floors.

    Is there any way to remove pet urine stains off of hardwood floors?
    The dog urinated on the carpet and it went right through to the hardwood floors. Now there’s black stains on the wood. Any one have ideas?

    • ANSWER:
      Full strength hydrogen peroxide on the the black part will bleach it out. Just pour it on and let it set for a bit. Don’t flood it or it will over bleach. Just a bit. Use more if you need to. Wash the area with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water to clean up the pee and help cut down on some of the smell. Then, re-finish the area with either poly or wax ( whichever finish you have ) to eliminate to pee smell.

    Is there anything you can do about pet urine on hardwood floors?
    I have hardwood floors…I just pulled the carpet off of them and found several dog urine stains. I have no illusions about re-finishing these floors – im sure they are probably ruined. BUT I would like to get them as clean as possible before putting carpet BACK on top of them. Is there anything I can do to reduce the urine smell of the hardwood?

    • ANSWER:
      1. Try Peroxide and a cold (not hot, it will set the stain permenantly) on a sponge to remove the odor and color.
      2. Windex. spray to soak the stain then bloat with paper towel
      3. Try vinager
      3. rub a raw potatoe on it
      4. a little toothpaste and warm water, and elbow grease
      I hope one of those ideas helps out.

    How do I clean really old hardwood floors?
    I just purchased a house built in 1924 and it has the original hardwood floors throughout. How do I clean these floors and since I would assume they are not coated or sealed, how do I generally care for them? Thanks!!

    • ANSWER:
      Sweeping and vacuuming is all you should do if they are not seal/urenthaned. Mopping them may water stain them or possible warp/cup them and they ll be ruined. You may have to budget to have them done (3/5$ a s/f depending where you live) Not the average DIY job , but it can be done.GL

    Wood cleaner bleached my hardwood floors. How to get back to normal?
    I had some old tape residue on my hardwood floors that I tried to remove by spraying with Murphy’s oil wood cleaner and scrubbing with a sponge. There is now a 2″x3″ spot on my floor which looks bleached (is lighter in color) from where I cleaned. Is there any way to touch up this one little spot and get it back to the normal shade? Or does the entire floor need to be sanded and refinished?

    • ANSWER:
      you might need to use some matching stain(use colour chart to select shade) but it is possible to get a bit of nugget in a similar tone if the spot is only small – more you use darker the colour will be but it is a cheaper way

    How do I removed a urine stain from a hardwood floor?
    My renter’s just moved out of my property and left it a huge mess! There were diapers left around and when I picked them up, there was a black stain in the hardwood flooring from the urine. How can I get rid of this? Thanks for your help!
    If I sand through it, will it need a clear cover or a stain?

    • ANSWER:
      Just mix one-half cup of vinegar with one gallon of warm water. You may want to adjust the ratio of vinegar to water if you find that it’s not cleaning as well as you would like. Use this solution to mop your floors as normal with a damp (not wet) mop or cloth, taking extra care to not leave any standing puddles of liquid. Allow the floor to dry naturally, or use a floor dryer to speed up the process.

      Hardwood floors require some special care, but using vinegar to clean hardwood floors might make buying special cleaning products unnecessary. You can find vinegar in any grocery store, it’s inexpensive, and it can actually remove odors from your home. You may even find that using vinegar to clean hardwood floors will leave your floors looking better than those expensive cleaners ever did.

    How do I get ferret poop and pee off of my hardwood floor?
    I have two ferrets and sometimes when I’m not home they get let out of their cage and go to the bathroom in the corner on my hardwood floor. I clean it up but it still stinks and left dark stains. How should I get rid of the smell and stain?

    • ANSWER:
      I get a gallon of “Natures Miracle” from the pet store. I have found that if you pour a bit on the area and wait a couple of days before re-applying, if needed, it works great. So far I’ve never had Natures Miracle stain or fade anything – carpet or wood flooring.

      Good Luck!

    How do you clean and refinish raw hardwood floors?
    Hi, my fiance and I have just recently moved into a house built in the 1950′s. We hated the carpet so we pulled it up and found that the hardwood floor underneath it was raw, untreated wood. There was some wall paint splotches on it, but for the most part, we got it up with “Paint Degreaser”. Anywho, my question is what can clean this dirty untreated wood floor? I do not want to stain the wood, just clean and polyurethane it to keep it’s age. Is cleaning and polyurethaning it okay to do? It is cyprus wood, dark and ashy in color. Thanks
    Is there any way that I can clean the wood without sanding?

    • ANSWER:
      I’d use a plain, damp mop. If there are sticky or oily spots, consider a dash of Murphy’s Oil Soap to the bucket. Then sand them down about 1/8″, vacuum REALY well, use a tack cloth, THEN you’re ready to stain and seal. They shoudl be gorgeous.

    How should I determine whether my old hardwood floor should be refinished?
    Old hardwood floor about 90 years old, has been under carpet for last 30 years. The flooring has paint splatters and a couple dings. I’m not sure if I should spend the time, money and energy to sand it down, stain it, and reseal it, or just try to clean the paint splatters off.

    • ANSWER:
      I would start by going at the paint spatters. If it looks good when you are done, leave it at that, but if you still want it to look better, then go for the refinishing.

    How do you clean up cat pee and the smell on old, hardwood floors?

    I’m moving into an old house built in 1930. Every room has old, origional hardwood floors. My room apparently smells like cat pee and it is all over the floors, dried.

    How do you clean up cat pee without ruining the floors? How do you comletly get the smell out of the room?

    • ANSWER:
      cat pee is usually quite strong enough to take out colors from wooden stuff.( i have an 8 yr old cat,who stays in the flat always so talking from xperience)
      1st soak that place with a thick past of detergent and water leave it on 4 half an hr and scrub and wipe it clean, then wipe it again with a mixture of bakng soda & hot water. If the stain is too old and has been absorbed in the wood.. i guess it will take some time to take it out.from your description i get the pee has been there for a very long time. try to get fresh air circualted in the room and the baking soda will dffntly help 2 take the bad smell away.
      i heard wiping the place with white vinegr and water mixture helps too but i never tried dat one.anyway hope this helped,good luck!!!!
      ( my mom has tried so many stuffs over the last few yrs ….baking soda is the only effective thing i found)

    How can I remove a bleach & water stain from my hardwood floor?
    We accidently spilled a bottle of bleach-based laundry detergent on our hardwood floor last week. We then mistakenly compounded the problem by attempting to clean up the bleach with water (hey, water should clean right?). Now our floor is covered with both white and black marks. I’ve read differing opinions on the best way to remedy the floor problem. Is there anyone that can provide some insight? Thanks for the help!

    • ANSWER:
      You didn’t say what type of wood your floor is made of, but because bleach and water turned it black, I’m guessing that it is something that is high in tannic acid, like Oak or Cherry because they can have an immediate chemical reaction when they come in contact with wet steel. Are the marks where the nails are? Or are they caused by a reaction with wet bleach? It may not matter because those types of stains can be very deep and difficult to remove. Bleach doesn’t cause a stain, it removes pigment from whatever it touches, and the black marks are a chemical reaction to it or water, so you will probably have to sand at least the stains, if not the whole floor.

      Without seeing it, I’m guessing that the entire floor may have to be refinished. Sanded down to bare wood, sealed, and a new top coat applied, though a flooring company will be able to give you expert advice. If the area isn’t huge and the rest of the floor is in good shape, you may be able to sand out the problem area and recoat it, but again, we’d just be guessing from here. Most flooring refinishers will do an estimate at no cost so you should probably have someone look at it because they can tell how deep it is, the type of finish you have, and what your options are. If you’re lucky, the stain isn’t too deep and you can simply sand it out and reapply a sealer and finish, which is probably polyurethane.

    How do I refinish my hardwood floors?
    My hardwood floor is in pretty fair condition. I’m going to give it a couple more years before I get it replaced but for now, how do I clean and refinish them? My own conventional wisdom tells me to sand it, then stain it, simple as that but I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to that. Help me out here people, I’d really appreciate it.

    • ANSWER:
      This is a hard job and you need detailed answers–you really need a book, at least; in-person help from someone who has done it before is better. Click on my user name and go to some of the other questions where I’ve given the basics of how I re-finish in a few paragraphs.

      Added: here’s a link to one of my detailed answers:;_ylt=AgewrIKvWzSm7Bil.O2cJ6Dsy6IX?qid=1006041919228

      Good luck.

    What causes black streaks on hardwood floors?
    We own a rent house which has oak hardwood flooring throughout most of the house. About a year ago, we hired a local hardwood floor company to sand, stain and seal the floors. The floors looked great when we rented out the house. Our renters moved out last week and when we walked in, we were horrified to see black streaks in every room. The black marks all seemed to bleed outward of anywhere wood filler was used on the floors (the house is almost a hundred years old, so there were a lot of cracks to fill). We are bringing the floor company back out to look at the damage, but in the meantime, I’d like to get an objective opinion. The only areas that this did not happen were where there were large pieces of furniture, causing us to believe it was a cleaning agent that may have done this. Also the tennent had 2 dogs, but we don’t think any dog could urinate over that much area. Does anyone know what could have caused this and if it can be repaired?

    • ANSWER:
      Could the wood possibly be oak? Got this from The Wood Box:

      “Oak is full of tannic acid and in fact the tannic acid in the bark was used for tanning animal hides for centuries. When the tannic acid mixes with the iron in our water it creates a chemical blue dye. This is why red oak stains black when water is allowed to penetrate the surface…..and why you must be careful not to get water on your red oak flooring.”

      The places where filler was put in could have allowed water to seep into the wood and cause the staining — or, it may even have drawn water out of the filler itself. Hope you find a solution!

    Howl long will it take to refinish the hardwood floors in my living and dining rooms?
    My husband and I plan on refinishing the hardwood floors in our living and diningrooms and entrance hallway this weekend. We are renting a sander and already own a hand sander. We don’t plan on staining the wood because we want the natural color of the wood. How long do you think it will take to do? Th efloors don’t need to be sanded that much. maybe two passes. One with 60 the other with 120 grit sandpaper. We also plan on using a water based polyurethane. It dries faster and has less fumes.

    • ANSWER:
      That will be a very big and dusty job. Be very careful of one thing……. if you are renting a power drum sander (sandpaper is wrapped around a cylinder and the contraption sort of looks like an upright vacuum cleaner )…. make sure you don’t make divots in the wood. This is a very common problem with those types of sanders. If that’s what you’re using; when you’re done sanding, run your hands along the length of the boards to feel for any slight divots/depressions in the wood. If they are there, hand sand them out. Any slight imperfections in the sanding job will be magnified when you apply finish. Of course, you always sand with the grain. Never, ever against it. Do not use an orbiting sander for any part of the floor. All sanding must be straight in the direction of the grain or else you’ll see the sanding marks. Make sure to use a fine grit for the final sanding (120 or so). Vacuum everything thoroughly and tack cloth it. Polyurethane takes some time to dry, so any dust in the air will wind up sticking to the finish, so make sure the area is as dust free as possible. Water-based poly is easy to apply though, so that’s good. For a floor, you will need at least 3 coats. 2 coats is definitely not enough. Do not go back and forth over the same area too many times or the poly will get sticky and look like crap.
      This job will take you a good 4 days if you work continuously….at least 2 days to sand and prep. Then another 2 days to apply all the finish.

    How to refinish slightly worn down hardwood floor?
    The hardwood floors in my home are slightly worn down–that is there are several spots on the floor where the old finish has begun to wear off, exposing the wood below. It isn’t damaged to the point where there are huge chunks of the floor that are worn down though.

    What I’ve tried to do so far is to clean the floor to remove any dust and I’ve applied a new layer of top coat on the floor. The problem is that after the top coat was applied, the worn down areas became much darker and more noticeable. Is there any way to fix this?

    Thanks in advance.

    • ANSWER:
      you can sand any clear coat off of the spots that are worn and then try to match the color of the stain to the rest of the floor. if you match it you can do this at all worn spots then apply new polyurethane.

    What can I do to remove pet smell from a hardwood floor?
    The hardwood floor had carpet on it, but has been removed. I plan to cover with new carpet. I was thinking a good cleaning with a sanitizer and a heavy coat of killz.

    • ANSWER:
      Oh, don’t paint it! Hardwood floors are beautiful!

      You can clean it with Apple Cider Vinegar and water. Mix Apple Cider Vinegar and water using 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar to 3 parts water, and scrub / mop with this. No need to rinse…you can simply let the Apple Cider Vinegar dry on the wood. But you might wipe any stained areas with clean rags to remove the pet grime.

      Apple Cider Vinegar contains tannins. The acid in the vinegar cuts the grime, while the tannins condition the wood. The result is amazing.

      For odor-killing power, you can also add a little Lemon Oil to your mixture. This will get rid of the pet odors. You want Essential Lemon Oil (available at Health Food Stores and on the Internet). You won’t need much Lemon Oil…adjust to your needs.

      But, even if you plan to put new carpet down over the floor, don’t burn your bridges by painting the floor. Even if the floor is stained, it can be sanded and stained — and brought back to life. If you paint it, it will be very difficult to ever bring back.

      You might think about just cleaning it up and then either carpeting over it or re-finishing it. It’s a huge asset if it’s unpainted.


    Has anyone used the Mr. Sandless system to refinish their hardwood floors? What were the results?
    Our hardwood floors need to be refinished. They are maple on the first floor (I think) and red oak on the second floor. I’m no young chickadee, and the thought of sanding and staining and varnishing them is making me tired already. But I haven’t got a couple thousand dollars to spare to have it professionally done. If anyone has had positive or negative comments they would like to share regarding this sandless system, please advise. Thanks!

    • ANSWER:
      I tried something similar, made by minwax and i did it myself. same type of application as done by mr sandless. I used it on 70 year old maple floors that looked like that hadnt been refinished in long time (10 yrs or more with kids and pets).
      Results were ok- but not terriffic, I was happy with the result considering the cost and the amount of effort it took.
      This fluid applied slightly eats away at the polyeurethane layer allowing for a good adhersion of the new coating, any small scratches are evened out almost as if a light grit sandpaper was used. The new layer of polyeurethane applied over gives it the clean, shiney and new look.
      The downfall-if there are any major scratches or worn areas or the slightest stains even from sun exposure- those will not come out. You also can not stain your floors when doing this sandless method, mr sandless should tell you that.
      My floors were a little to worn for this type of application, but if your floors are in good shape it will probley turn out much better.

    How do you remove water marks from a hard wood floor?
    I have several spots in my hardwood floors where we have forgotten to remove the mop after cleaning and left it sitting on the floor. It left a “stain” where the mop was sitting. Is there any way other than refinishing to remove these spots?

    • ANSWER:
      Hi , try a product called Renewawood. You wipe it on and wipe it off. The real draw-back is you can’t use polyurethane afterward.

how to clean hardwood floors that are stained