How to Remove Laundry Detergent From a Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are beautiful when well maintained.
Hardwood floors are beautiful when well maintained. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The majority of wood floors today are finished with a coat of polyurethane. When you clean a wood floor, you're actually cleaning the the polyurethane and not the wood. The wood sits beneath the polyurethane finish. If you've spilled laundry detergent on a hardwood floor, don't fret, because you can clean this right off the surface of the polyurethane. When choosing a cleaner to use on the floor, think of the floor surface more as a mirror or glass window, rather than a wood floor. Polyurethane cleans up better when you use a product that won't leave streaks.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-abrasive vacuum hose attachment
  • Powerful shop vacuum
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Rag
  • White vinegar

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Place a non-abrasive attachment on the end of a powerful shop vacuum and suck up all excess laundry detergent.

Use a plastic putty knife to lift any detergent film up off the floor. It is important to use plastic instead of metal to avoid scratching the floor's finish.

Use a wet rag to mop up the bulk of the laundry detergent. Wring the rag out in a sink, rinse it and then re-mop the area until you can't see any more of the spilled detergent.

Dip the rag in a mixture of 50 percent water and 50 percent white vinegar and use this to remove any remaining residue. Rinse the floor again with a rag and plain water to remove the vinegar.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use rubbing alcohol if you don't have any white vinegar.
  • Always clean with the grain of the wood to help hide water spots.
  • Avoid scrubbing too hard with the rag or you'll dull the finish on the floor.


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