The tannic acid (tannin) in black tea cleans wood floors and gives a shine that enhances the grain. Tannin is a naturally occurring component of plants, including trees. Tannin is responsible for the color of wood and is thought to protect wood from insect pests and rot. This explains why a strong tea solution rich in tannin enhances and protects wood floors. This inexpensive cleaning solution is simple to make and use. It is environmentally friendly, completely safe around animals and young children and is not harsh on your hands or lungs.
Things You'll Need
- Mop bucket
- 2 qt. boiling water
- 5 to 20 tea bags (black tea only)
- Soft lint-free rags
Pour 2 qt. of boiling water into a mop bucket. Add between 5 and 20 tea bags--these must be black tea; herbal teas will not have the same tannic acid content.
Steep for at least 15 minutes until the solution is very strong and only slightly warm. Remove teabags and discard. In the future, you can vary the number of teabags until you find the solution strength you find works best on your floor.
To give the floor cleaner a longer shelf life, try adding 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar and 10 to 20 drops of tea tree, sweet orange or cedar oil, which have disinfectant properties. This solution can be kept in sealed jars or a spray bottle under the sink until ready to use.
Soak a soft lint-free cloth in the tea solution. Wring out until the cloth is just barely damp.
Use the damp cloth to gently work the tea into the grain of the floor, working on small sections of floor at a time and using small circular motions. Rinse cloth if it becomes dirty and keep dipping in tea solution until the whole floor is treated.
Wipe dry; no rinsing is required. For an enhanced sheen, buff gently with a soft dry cloth.
Tips & Warnings
- Using orange pekoe tea or a mixture of peppermint tea and black tea will make your floors smell fresh and may deter ants. Ants are repelled by mint and by orange oil.
- Always sweep the floor thoroughly before using the tea solution. If the floor is heavily soiled, prewash with a mop moistened in a weak solution of vinegar and water--about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to 1 gallon of water. Then use the tea to achieve a polished look.
- If working on hands and knees is a problem, you may use a mop to apply the tea, but ensure that it is squeezed out until nearly dry.
- If you choose to add orange or tea tree oil, this cleaner will no longer be safe if swallowed. Store out of reach of children.
- Water is a main ingredient of this cleaner and can damage hardwood floors. It is essential to wring out cloths completely and wipe up any excess to avoid staining, swelling or warping.
- Photo Credit pile of tea bags image by Melking from Fotolia.com
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