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DIY Wood Floor Cleaner: Gentle Plant-Based Recipe

March 5, 2024

DIY Wood Floor Cleaner: Gentle Plant-Based Recipe


Keeping wood floors clean can be a challenge. Store-bought cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that can damage floor finishes over time. Fortunately, you can easily make your own effective wood floor cleaner using gentle, plant-based ingredients you likely have on hand.

In this article, I’ll share my favorite DIY wood floor cleaner recipe. I’ll cover the benefits of natural cleaners, explain which ingredients to use and avoid, provide step-by-step instructions for making it, and offer tips for getting the best results cleaning your floors. After reading, you’ll be equipped to make an inexpensive, non-toxic wood floor cleaner right at home.

Benefits of Natural Wood Floor Cleaners

Cleaning wood floors with gentler, plant-based ingredients has many advantages:

  • Less harsh on floors: Store-bought cleaners often contain chemicals that can slowly break down floor coatings and seep into the wood itself over time. Natural cleaners gently clean without damaging floors.

  • Better for indoor air quality: Harsh chemical fumes from cleaners can degrade indoor air quality and irritate respiratory systems. Mild plant-based cleaners don’t negatively impact air quality.

  • More environmentally friendly: Natural cleaners avoid ingredients like synthetic fragrances and preservatives that can harm ecosystems when washed down the drain. They’re better for the planet.

  • Easy on sensitive skin: Chemical ingredients in cleaners can irritate skin for those with sensitivities. Natural cleaners pose less risks of skin irritation or allergic reactions.

  • Cost effective: Since they use simple ingredients like vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils, DIY natural cleaners cost a fraction of store-bought ones.

Ingredients to Use and Avoid

The key to an effective DIY wood floor cleaner is choosing the right ingredients. Here are some to embrace and ingredients to avoid:

Ingredients to Use

  • White vinegar – Has antibacterial properties and helps dissolve grease and grime. Acts as a natural degreaser.

  • Water – Serves as the base for the cleaner. Lukewarm water works best.

  • Castile soap – Plant-based soap that helps lift dirt without leaving residue. Liquid versions work best.

  • Essential oils – For scent. Some choices are lemon, lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, and tea tree oil.

  • Vegetable glycerin – Optional ingredient that helps add shine to the floors.

Ingredients to Avoid

  • Ammonia – Can strip finishes and dull floors.

  • Bleach – Can damage and discolor wood over time.

  • ** Vinegar alternatives** – Citrus juice and alcohol can damage floor coatings. Stick to white vinegar.

  • Abrasives – Baking soda, borax, etc. can scratch wood floors. Leave them out.

  • Harsh detergents – Can leave cloudy residue and strip floors. Avoid conventional soaps.

DIY Wood Floor Cleaner Recipe

Now that you know which ingredients to use, let’s go over how to mix them into an effective DIY cleaner. Here’s my go-to recipe:


  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup castile soap
  • 2 gallons warm water
  • 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice
  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)


  1. Fill a bucket with 2 gallons lukewarm water. The temperature should be about room temperature.

  2. Add the white vinegar and castile soap. Stir gently to combine.

  3. Add 15-20 drops of your chosen essential oil(s) for scent. I like a lemon-lavender blend.

  4. If desired for extra shine, stir in 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin.

  5. Mix all ingredients well before use. Store unused cleaner sealed in the bucket.

This yield makes enough cleaner to tackle several average-sized rooms. You’ll just need to pour some into a squirt bottle before getting started cleaning. It’s that simple!

Tips for Cleaning Wood Floors

Now that you have a top-notch DIY wood floor cleaner, here are some tips to get the best results cleaning your floors:

  • Sweep first – Remove any loose debris like dirt, pet hair, etc. so it doesn’t get smeared around.

  • Use a soft cloth – Microfiber cloths are ideal. Paper towels can sometimes leave lint behind.

  • Work in sections – Clean in 3×3 foot sections, rather than taking on the whole floor at once, so it stays wet long enough to effectively clean before drying.

  • Rinse the cloth – Be sure to rinse out dirt and grime from cloth regularly as you clean. This prevents redepositing it.

  • Dry with grain – When drying the floor, wipe in the direction of the wood grain to avoid streaks.

  • Avoid wet mopping – Excess water can damage wood over time. Just a damp cloth is sufficient.

  • Reapply as needed – Don’t let floors get too grimy before recleaning. Spot clean high traffic areas as needed.


DIY cleaners made with gentle ingredients like vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils are a great option for keeping wood floors clean without harming them. Mix up a batch using the simple plant-based recipe in this article. Then use these floor cleaning tips to make your floors shine. With this approach, you can avoid exposing floors and indoor air to harsh chemicals.

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