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How to Clean Your Oil Finished Wood Floors

by Crystal Hosking – Hosking Hardwood Flooring Inc. 2014, Copyright protected. All Rights Reserved

Oil finished wood flooring offers a beautifully elegant patina and coloring so rich you can almost taste it.

A hardwood floor with an oiled finish is much different than your standard aluminum oxide finished wood floor. Whereas an aluminum oxide finish will sit on top of the actual wood, creating a barrier between you and the wood, an oil finish will soak into the wood, making the wood surface itself tougher. It's important to keep in mind that either type of finish, aluminum oxide or oil, is not going to prevent indentations or scratches if the floor is abused --- wood is a natural, porous material and not indestructible.

The major benefit of going with an oiled floor over a standard aluminum oxide finish is that spot repairs can be made on an oil finished floor, restoring the floor to its "brand new" look. With an aluminum oxide hardwood floor, in order to return the entire floor to it's "new" look, you have to sand and refinish.

The choice, then, might seem like an easy one --- if oiled floors can be spot restored more easily, then they're the obvious way to go for a floor that's going to look newer for a longer period of time. Not so fast. The upside of having an oiled wood floor may be appealing, but it's important to know that oiled wood floors require a lot more regular maintenance than aluminum oxide finished wood flooring; and this "regular maintenance" begins immediately after installation.

Once your new oil finished wood flooring has been installed, it's necessary to vacuum up any dust/dirt from the installation process and then clean the flooring with an oil refresher diluted with water using a well wrung out mop.


Regular Cleaning

After the initial cleaning, you can clean your oiled floor by simply vacuuming on a regular basis. If a deeper clean is necessary (usually recommended about once a month or so), make sure to use a cleaner specifically made for oiled wood flooring. The stand out brand in the industry right now for oiled wood floor cleaning products is WOCA. WOCA makes an oil soap specifically formulated to enhance the beauty of oil finished hardwood flooring, nourishing the surface and protecting the wood against dirt and chance liquid spills.

The WOCA Soap needs to be diluted in water prior to mopping your oiled wood floor. Work with two buckets: one with the soap mix and the other with clean water for rinsing. Mop the soap mix onto your oiled floor (with as little water transfer as possible). After letting the soap sit briefly on the oiled wood floor to dissolve any dirt, make sure to clean up any dirty soap water with your wrung out mop. After cleaning, let floors dry for at least 30 minutes before walking on them.

Take note, there are two different soaps available: one for use on white colored oiled floors and a different one for other colors.

For extra protection, on a quarterly basis, an Oil Refresher can be used to clean and re-oil the surface of your oiled wood floor. This process is generally the same as with the Soap (dilute and use two buckets). Work in sections and allow the newly cleaned oil floor to dry before walking on it. For the Oil Refresher, dry time is approximately two hours. For commercial applications, the Oil Refresher can be used on a monthly basis.

Repairing Scratches or Stains

WOCA makes a Master Oil product for oil finished hardwood floors which will absorb into shallow scratches and make them virtually disappear. There are two types of Master Oil: one for natural flooring and one for stained products. Simply choose the product appropriate for your flooring.

With oiled hardwood flooring, spot stain removal is made easy. WOCA makes a Spot Remover which you just spray evenly right onto the stain. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes while it dissolves the stain and then just scrub the spot until the stain is removed. Finish by wiping with a damp cloth and then re-oiling the surface of the flooring. Removes blood, coffee, wine and more.

Lifetime Maintenance

Because of the availability of spot treatments of oiled wood floors, sanding and refinishing of an aging oiled floor is pretty much unnecessary. Oil finished wood flooring will start to show wear due to habitual residential traffic patterns, though. This can be remedied by re-applying an oil to your wood flooring. This is something that is typically done every year in residential settings and twice a year in commercial settings. WOCA Maintenance Oil is recommended for this application. Again, there are two types of Maintenance Oil products: one for white colored flooring and another for all other naturals and stain colors.

For application, follow the instructions on the Maintenance Oil packaging carefully. The Maintenance Oil involves using either a polishing machine or a roller (for manual application). Working in sections, make sure to saturate the surface of the wood floor and polish it into the wood. Once the floor looks evenly coated, use cotton cloths to wipe the section. Continue from section to section until the entire wood floor surface has been covered. The Maintenance Oil takes approximately 4 to 6 hours to dry if done with a polishing machine and approximately 24 hours to dry if done manually. Proceed to walk on the newly oiled floor with caution. The entire floor should be fully hardened after 3 days.


Important Maintenance Tips for Oil Finished Wood Floors

Although the oil finish on a wood floor will bead up liquid spills and protect the wood from moisture, it's important to wipe up spills right away. Standing water for any amount of time is not good for wood flooring, no matter the finish type.

Don't use any cleaners or maintenance products on your oil finished wood flooring that aren't specifically made for oil finished wood flooring. This especially refers to products featuring waxes, ammonia, vinegar, detergents or bleach. Cleaners for oil finished wood floors and aluminum oxide finished wood floors are different. Oil cleaners and maintenance products shouldn't be used on aluminum oxide finished flooring and vice versa. 

Protect the surface of your oiled wood floor with mats at doors leading to the outside, rug pads and chair glides.

For homes with pets, follow guidelines here: Pets and Your Hardwood Flooring

Never use tape or any other adhesive products on your oiled wood floor.

Keep in mind that the preceding guidelines for maintenance of oil finished wood floors are just that --- a guideline. Make sure to refer to your specific oiled floor manufacturer's own maintenance instructions for the best options in your specific situation. Taking care of your oiled floor by the manufacturer's instructions will ensure that all warranties and guarantees are protected.

Hardwood Flooring Manufacturers with Oil Finished Products

On, you will find that most of our flooring products feature a UV cured Aluminum Oxide Finish. This is the standard in the industry right now and the most popular. We do, however, have a couple manufacturers who offer a variety of oil finished floors:

Kahrs Wood Flooring:
Vintage Hardwood Flooring also offers a UV OIL FINISH which offers all the benefits of an oiled floor but with less maintenance. For more information on the Vintage (formerly the Muskoka brand) UV Oil Floors and how to keep them clean click here: Vintage UV Oil -- Not Your Average Oiled Floor.
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Web Page: How to Clean My Oil Finished Wood Flooring
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars - 48 reviews

Date: July 18, 2020
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
I have a new home with oiled hickory floors. I have been trying to find out from the builder what to use to care for them, all to no avail. Your information was quite helpful. Now I need to find the products to care for them. I was supposed to get a floor care kit with the home, but cant get them to bring it out. I will start looking for one myself. Do you have any product sources?
Reply by HoskingHardwood : Since every manufacturer recommends their own product we would suggest calling them they can tell you what to use and where to purchase it.
Date: June 13, 2020
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
have been trying to find out how to care for my oil floors for three years thank you
Date: May 13, 2020
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
awesome, just what I was looking for
Date: April 23, 2020
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Very helpful article. Thank you! I have ash oiled wood floors that have been neglected and need some TLC. I have ordered soap and looking forward to restoring them.
Date: April 4, 2020
Page Rating: (1.0/5)
Not good at all you led me to the site on how to clean oil floor and all said was use WOCA oil. Then you advertises a product to clean rugs?
Reply by HoskingHardwood : Sorry, Those are rotating ads by Google and we have no ability to control what they put up on our pages or if they relate to any of our articles.  
Date: April 1, 2020
Page Rating: (4.5/5)
Any advice on using WOCA care products on Bona Craft Oiled floors?
Reply by HoskingHardwood : We would suggest calling WOCA and or Bona to see what they would recommend using.
Date: March 29, 2020
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Your information is correct. Our installer used the wrong cleaner and it left cracks in the finish. He also used masking tape to secure the protective paper to the floor which left noticeable blister lines. Our contractor didn’t know that the plaster dust sitting on the floor where the paper was torn also had a drying effect. No oil was applied to the floor during the extra year the project was dragged out after the floors were installed. Wish someone had known the proper care oil finished floors required. Thank you for making this article available.
Date: December 8, 2019
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Very good information, wished I had known about all the maintenance before I had the flooring installed. Probably would have gone with another finish!
Date: May 26, 2019
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comprehensive information on the care of oiled hardwood floors. Really wished Id researched this when I moved into my house 5 years ago. Been using a steam mop and have dark patches throughout the floor. Would the stain removing oil tackle these or will we have to sand and start again?
Reply by HoskingHardwood : Hi Emma we would suggest calling the manufacturer of the flooring and ask them what they would suggest to use with their product they would be more familiar with the finish they use. 
Date: October 13, 2018
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Any recommendation on how to remove drywall dust fron oil finish floor. The floor has a wire brush finish, and the dust is embedded into the wood grain.
Reply by HoskingHardwood :

Try using a vacuum with a bristle brush


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