Cleaning Hardwood Floors With Hydrogen Peroxide [List Of Do’s & Don’ts]

Everyone shrieks at the thought of using chemicals on hardwood floors. And they’re right to do so as harsh chemicals can ruin the topmost UV coatings and sealants. However, here’s the thing. 

Floors get dirty. Really dirty. Somewhat strong chemicals like ammonia, rubbing alcohol, acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, etc. are then needed to get all sorts of grease and dirt off of the floors.

But should you be cleaning hardwood floors with hydrogen peroxide?

You can clean and polish both solid and engineered hardwood floors with hydrogen peroxide. Despite being a strong oxidizing agent, hydrogen peroxide works wonders for hardwood floors. It’s not just used as a strong cleaner but also as an incredible disinfectant. The active oxygen in hydrogen peroxide dissolves the microbes and prevents fungal growth inside the many cracks in the wood.

And no, when used correctly and safely, hydrogen peroxide won’t oxidize through the wood finish and bleach it down. Today’s article will feature some of the important do’s and don’ts of cleaning hardwood floors with hydrogen peroxide. Follow these tips and techniques thoroughly to avoid discoloration and bruising issues while using H-peroxide.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors With Hydrogen Peroxide: Do’s

You can use household cleaners, baking soda, vinegar, etc. in moderate amounts to clean hardwood floors, especially engineered hardwood floors. Completely raw hardwood floors won’t take kindly to the chemicals in these cleaners.

While cleaning hardwood floors with hydrogen peroxide, here are the things that you should do –

Start Small

You can’t always know how your floor will react to a certain type of cleaner unless you try it. Hence, it’s best to test the H-peroxide solution on a small area first.

This is also known as the discoloration test. The test is extremely useful if you have dark red or brown wood floors.

First, use masking tape to seal a small square-shaped area over the floor. Then use the prepared H-peroxide solution to clean that area only. After drying the area, compare the color of that area with the rest of the floor.

If it becomes lighter, then you shouldn’t use H-peroxide on that floor. Or you should dilute the solution further.

Dilute Solution

H-peroxide is a strong cleaner and thus, requires dilution before you can use it on natural hardwood floors. Furthermore, you should never use direct H-peroxide on wood floors without diluting it down first.

You can use a 90:10 or 80:20 solution of water and H-peroxide to prepare the wood-friendly solution. The dilution level can be determined by the discoloration test too.

If your H-peroxide doesn’t come as a concentrated solution, you don’t have to dilute it again. See the label for more info.

Use Microfiber Mops

mopping with microfibre

You should use microfiber mops or sponges to clean hardwood floors with H-peroxide. That way, you won’t have to worry about unfair scratches all over the floors.

Soft mops and sponges will also preserve the integrity of the wood finish. The finish won’t get dull at all.

Use Hand Gloves

H-peroxide is bad for human skin and internal organs. To prevent any direct contact, you should use hand gloves before cleaning hardwood floors with hydrogen peroxide.

It’s also not safe to inhale the fumes of H-peroxide. Hence, it’s best to use masks and glasses alongside hand gloves to ensure proper safety during the cleaning sessions.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors With Hydrogen Peroxide: Don’ts

There are a few simple but important things that you should keep in mind to prevent unwanted reactions during clean-ups. Here are the don’ts of cleaning hardwood floors with hydrogen peroxide –

No Dump-Downs

Will hydrogen peroxide damage hardwood floors if you dump it down directly on the surface? Yep.

Either soak the sponge in the solution to clean the surfaces or use the spraying method. You can use an abandoned spray bottle to systematically spray the diluted solution over the dirty and stained bits and then hose the area down.

No Mix-Ups

If you’re using hydrogen peroxide on hardwood floors, you shouldn’t use any other cleaners on the wood at the time. Plus, you can’t mix H-peroxide with other cleaners either.

You might think that combining different cleaners together will increase the cleaning strength of the mixture. But no.

For instance – mixing H-peroxide and acetic acid i.e. vinegar will produce highly corrosive peracetic acid. This acid can permanently bleach hardwood floors and you’ll then have to spend thousands on refurbishing the damaged surfaces.

How Long To Leave Hydrogen Peroxide On Hardwood Floors?

We’ve established that it’s okay to use hydrogen peroxide on hardwood floors due to its active cleaning properties. However, the reactions don’t happen right away. Especially, while working on a really dirty floor, you need to let the peroxide soak in the dirt and make it moist first.

But how long is too long?

Because it’s also true that the finish on the wood floors won’t take kindly to the hydrogen peroxide on the floors. Prolonged exposure can make the finish look dull and the layers can even start to disintegrate in some places.

Experts recommend not keeping the hydrogen peroxide on hardwood floors longer than 10-15 minutes. Generally, you should adopt the traditional wipe and swipe method with hydrogen peroxide solutions on wood floors.

In this method, you simply wet the microfiber sponge or mop with a bit of H-peroxide solution and use the mop to gently scrub the floor surfaces. 

This method is greatly effective to prevent any damaging effect of hydrogen peroxide on wood. However, if you’re working with really dirty floors, then you can use hydrogen peroxide for longer periods. 

You can spread the solution over the dirty area and leave it just long enough to soften the dirt and grime. The active oxygen will keep disintegrating the fatty chains in the grime and eventually corrode through all the layers.

So, within 5 to 10 minutes, the dirt should get dissolved completely in the presence of H-peroxide. 

If needed, you can wait another 5 minutes or so. You’ll risk damaging the finish if you wait more than 15-20 minutes. Hence, you should wipe off the solution alongside the grime and apply the solution to another area.

Will Hydrogen Peroxide Ruin Hardwood Floors?

In General, No. Hydrogen peroxide is considered safe to use on hardwood floors. It is a natural disinfectant that can effectively kill germs and bacteria while not being too harsh on the finish of the floor. However, it’s important to use the correct concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

However, it is important to note that hydrogen peroxide can discolor or bleach certain types of wood, especially if it is left on the surface for too long. Furthermore, hydrogen peroxide can break down the wax of a wax-finished wood floor.

To avoid any potential damage, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your hardwood floors and to test the solution in a small area first.

Final Verdict

So, cleaning hardwood floors with hydrogen peroxide – yay or nay? Well, it’s a huge yay from us considering that the application of hydrogen peroxide can have multifarious benefits on hardwood floors.

From getting rid of stains to preventing mass algae/fungal growth altogether, hydrogen peroxide can ensure and even increase the longevity of hardwood floors and decks. Additionally, it can actively remove the strong smell of pet urine and feces as well. And with the right dosage and application, it won’t cause discoloration in the slightest.

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