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How to Clean Sticky Wood Floors

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How to Clean Sticky Wood Floors

Wood floors are a great option when it comes to decorating your home. They’re easy to sweep and mop, making them especially ideal for anyone who has little ones or pets running around. They’re also completely timeless, elevating any space to make it look clean and sleek.

However, with that being said, hardwood floors can quickly end up looking and feeling less than their best if they’re not cared for and maintained properly.

Ever noticed that your floor seems to have an annoying sticky residue on it? This is a common problem with wood flooring and there are many potential causes that we will cover in this article and we will show you how to clean sticky wood floors and prevent them from coming back in the future.

Each of the methods listed in this article uses only natural, sustainable ingredients, and materials, meaning there is no need to worry about damaging your floor or causing harm to you, your loved ones, or the environment to clean sticky floors.

Related: How to Remove Urine Stains from Hardwood Floors Without Chemical Cleaners

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Best Overall
O-Cedar EasyWring Microfiber Spin Mop & Bucket Floor Cleaning System
O-Cedar EasyWring Microfiber Spin Mop & Bucket Floor Cleaning System
  • High-quality microfiber uses only water to deep clean to remove dirt, grime, and up to 99% of bacteria
  • Bucket designed for easy, hands-free wringing
  • Triangle design allows for easy cleaning in hard to reach places, such as corners
  • 3 washable microfiber pads are included and the long adjustable handle extends up to 48 inches
9.7
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Casabella Microfiber Spin Mop and Bucket SystemCasabella Microfiber Spin Mop and Bucket System
  • Complete bucket and spin mop system that easy to transport with 2 handles and wheels with storage compartment
  • Easy to rinse mop and wring, built-in soap dispenser to easily add soap as needed
  • Microfiber mop head pivots effortlessly to clean tough to reach areas
  • Comes with 5 microfiber mop heads, 2 compartment bucket, and 51 inch mop handle
9.6
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Best Value
Libman Spin Mop and Bucket
Libman Spin Mop and Bucket
  • Absorbent microfiber mopping system for tough spills and messes or overall room cleaning
  • Built-in technology that allows for 360-degree spinning and durable wringing
  • Microfiber mop heads can clean easily with just adding water, also machine washable
  • Comes with an adjustable handle so all sizes can use
9.4
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How to Clean Sticky Wood Floors

Now, let’s move on to the most important part; how best to effectively remove the sticky residue. There are several different methods you could choose from here and we’re going to talk you through five of our favorite ones.

Which one proves to be the best option for you will depend on the type of sticky residue you are dealing with, the surface and area that you are working in, and the products, tools, or ingredients that you already have to hand. The important thing is, that each of these methods will definitely help you to remove the sticky residue from your floor without causing any surface damage and without any harsh chemical cleaning agents.

White Vinegar and Water

Arguably the best floor cleaner in our how to clean sticky wood floors guide for effectively cleaning sticky floors and removing residue is by using the all-natural combination of distilled water and white vinegar. White vinegar is a holy grail product when it comes to natural, non-toxic cleaning, thanks to its antibacterial properties and gentle acidity that cuts through grease and grime without causing damage to household surfaces.

Harris Cleaning Vinegar, Mandarin, 128oz, All Purpose Household Surface Cleaner Harris Cleaning Vinegar, Mandarin

To use this method, simply mix one part white vinegar with four parts distilled water in your mop bucket, you can also add a couple of drops of natural fragrance such as lemon juice or lavender essential oil if you want to fill your home with a light, fresh scent.

Now, get to work mopping as normal and you should find that the solution quickly will effectively remove sticky residue and leave your floor sparkling clean.

After mopping, rinse out your mop head with some clean water. Make sure to rinse it out thoroughly before using it to dry off your floor to avoid over-saturation and the recurrence of those sticky residues.

If you’re a little apprehensive about using acidic floor cleaner on your wood floor, carry out a small patch test on an inconspicuous area and see how it reacts. As we said, white vinegar is acidic but it’s also gentle enough that it shouldn’t cause any damage to the surface of your floors.

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Simple Floor Cleaning Solution: Mild Soap and Water

Alternatively, you could use the same method but with your choice of mild liquid soap or detergent for an effective DIY floor cleaning solution. Simply dilute the soap with warm water in your mop bucket and follow the same method listed above.

One thing to consider when choosing a liquid soap or detergent floor cleaner is that you want as few suds as possible. Excess soap suds can be super difficult to remove and are likely to worsen the sticky residue on your floor rather than remove it.

No or low-suds natural soaps can be found in most stores or online, so be sure to choose one of these if possible.

If, after mopping, you are left with some excess soap suds or residue on your floor, we recommend emptying and refilling your mop bucket with lukewarm water, thoroughly rinsing out your mop head, and then re-mopping the floor one last time. This should remove most of the suds and you can then finish by drying the floor as much as possible with a towel or dry microfiber cloth to ensure no excess moisture is left on your floor.

By Hand

Finally, if the sticky residue is particularly stubborn, you could hand wash your floors using a non-abrasive brush, microfiber cloth or sponge. It’s important that you don’t use anything with harsh fibers or stiff bristles because wood can easily be scratched.

E-Cloth Washing Up Pad, Non-Scratch Kitchen Scrub Sponge, 300 Wash Guarantee, Blue, 4 Pack E-Cloth Non-Scratch Washing Up Pad

Use your gentle cleaning sponge or brush with your choice of low-suds soap or a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and distilled water combined in a spray bottle and use some good old elbow grease to cut through the sticky residue. Or try your microfiber cloth with just water.

This method is undeniably the most time-consuming way when it comes to how to clean sticky wood floors and requires the hardest manual work, but it is effective. If you’re working with a small area or are simply in need of a spot clean, this might be a good option for you.

Related: The Best Mop for Linoleum Floors

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Preventing Sticky Floors

Throughout this article, we’ll look at ways to clean sticky hardwood floors and resolve the problem. However, a better solution is preventing sticky floors in the first place. Below, we’ll talk about the common causes. Once you know the causes, you can be careful to avoid them so you won’t have to deal with sticky floors in the future.

Related: The Best Floor Buffer for Home Use

What Causes Wood Floors to Become Sticky?

There are a few different things that could be causing your floors to become sticky. We will cover some of the most common causes here in our how to clean sticky wood floors guide:

Mopping with Dirty Water

When you clean the floors in your house, you probably start out with a mop bucket full of fresh, clean water with the intention of leaving your floor sparkling clean and free from any sticky residue. However, if you’re mopping large areas, this water can quickly become contaminated with dirt, grease, and grime from the floors in your home. If your floor is one of the last areas to be cleaned, all of this dirt will then be transferred onto it via your mop head, leaving you with a sticky or greasy residue on your flooring.

O-Cedar Easywring Microfiber Spin Mop & Bucket Floor Cleaning System with 1 Extra Refill O-Cedar Easywring Microfiber Spin Mop & Bucket Floor Cleaning System

When mopping your floor it’s important that you change out the water regularly; either between rooms or whenever it starts to look a little murky.

Related: The Best Mop for Luxury Vinyl Plank Floors

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Floor Cleaner Residue from Using Too Much Solution

You might think that using more cleaning solution will simply leave you with cleaner floors, but in fact, if you’re under-diluting your cleaning solution or simply applying too much, it is going to be much harder to remove the soapy floor cleaner residue that’s left behind. This will leave your floor feeling sticky and with visible smudges or watermarks.

Always be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle of your cleaning solution and dilute accordingly to get the right amount. Also, be careful not to over-saturate your floor while cleaning as this is also likely to lead to a buildup of soap residue.

Aunt Fannie's Hardwood Floor Cleaner, Bright Lemon (Single) Aunt Fannie’s Hardwood Floor Cleaner – Bright Lemon

Check the price on Amazon

Using the Wrong Floor Cleaning Solution

When they’re cared for correctly, wood floors make a beautiful feature within the home, but they can also be kind of high maintenance. They can easily be scratched or the surface or finish can be damaged by cleaning agents that are too potent or acidic. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use any acidic cleaners on your hardwood floors, in fact, we will recommend some suitable ones a little later on. It’s simply always best to stick to natural and gentle acidic cleaning ingredients, as these are still highly effective cleaning agents but are also much less likely to cause any surface damage. 

Similarly, different stains and residues will require different cleaning agents. It’s important that the cleaning solution you choose to use is well suited to the type of dirt you are trying to remove and your floor type. Using the wrong floor cleaning solution can cause problems.

Residue from Spills or Household Dirt

Arguably problem that makes wood floors sticky is residue and stains that are left behind when liquids are spilled or dirt accumulates on the surface. This is particularly true in the kitchen, where grease and oils may spray onto the floor or where food residue is most likely to be dropped and cause a sticky floor.

Always aim to clean up any spills as soon as possible to avoid being left with a sticky mess.

Related: The Best Spin Mops of 2021

Things to Consider When Cleaning Your Wood Floors

Aside from being aware of the common causes of sticky floors that we mentioned earlier, these are a couple of final tips for removing and preventing stickiness in the future and keeping your floors looking and feeling their best…

Avoid Steam Mops

Steam Mops use vaporized water to kill bacteria and cut through dirt to clean floors. They’re super easy to use and lightweight but they are not suitable for use on most wooden floors. The combination of heat and moisture can cause warping or lifting of hardwood floor panels and the vapor can also seep into cracks and crevices and break down the glue bonds that are holding your wooden panels in place.

Steam mops might be a convenient and effective option for cleaning some other hard floors, but not wood.

Change Out Mop Heads Regularly

As we said earlier, cleaning your floor with dirty water is a surefire way of leaving behind greasy residue or dirt and causing a sticky film to form over your wood floor, and the same goes for using dirty mop heads. Reusable mop heads are always the best option since they can be easily washed between every use and rinsed out periodically, reducing the chance of cross-contaminating your hardwood flooring and simply transferring dirt or floor cleaner residue from one area of the home to another.

Allow Wood Floors to Dry Thoroughly Before Walking on Them

If excess water, soap, or cleaning solution is left on your wood floors after cleaning, walking over them too soon is sure to cause a buildup of dirt and debris which could lead to sticky floors, particularly if you are wearing outdoor footwear.

To make sure the area remains clean and to avoid stickiness, allow the floor to dry thoroughly with good ventilation before walking or placing items onto it. It’s also important not to over saturate the floor while cleaning to avoid excessively long dry times.

Related: How to Clean Laminate Floors and Make Them Shine

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Best Overall
O-Cedar EasyWring Microfiber Spin Mop & Bucket Floor Cleaning System
O-Cedar EasyWring Microfiber Spin Mop & Bucket Floor Cleaning System
  • High-quality microfiber uses only water to deep clean to remove dirt, grime, and up to 99% of bacteria
  • Bucket designed for easy, hands-free wringing
  • Triangle design allows for easy cleaning in hard to reach places, such as corners
  • 3 washable microfiber pads are included and the long adjustable handle extends up to 48 inches
9.7
Check Price on Amazon
Casabella Microfiber Spin Mop and Bucket SystemCasabella Microfiber Spin Mop and Bucket System
  • Complete bucket and spin mop system that easy to transport with 2 handles and wheels with storage compartment
  • Easy to rinse mop and wring, built-in soap dispenser to easily add soap as needed
  • Microfiber mop head pivots effortlessly to clean tough to reach areas
  • Comes with 5 microfiber mop heads, 2 compartment bucket, and 51 inch mop handle
9.6
Check Price on Amazon
Best Value
Libman Spin Mop and Bucket
Libman Spin Mop and Bucket
  • Absorbent microfiber mopping system for tough spills and messes or overall room cleaning
  • Built-in technology that allows for 360-degree spinning and durable wringing
  • Microfiber mop heads can clean easily with just adding water, also machine washable
  • Comes with an adjustable handle so all sizes can use
9.4
Check Price on Amazon

Final Thoughts on How to Clean Sticky Wood Floors

If you find that your floor is often covered in a sticky coating that leaves them feeling unpleasant and looking less than their best, the methods in this article on how to clean sticky wood floors will enable you to tackle the stickiness and restore your floors so that they are sparkling clean and shiny, once again.

By maintaining an awareness of the potential causes for this sticky residue and considering the products and methods that you are using to clean your floors, you should be able to prevent this problem from reoccurring and keep your wood floors in an optimal condition at all times without the use of a single synthetic or toxic chemical ingredient!

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