How To Clean, Gloss Up, And Seal Dull Old Hardwood Floors

Whoops, I almost forgot to tell you about how I scrubbed and re-sealed the existing hardwoods right before we moved in (literally, like 26 hours before we moved in). The new hardwoods upstairs were looking so flossy and glossy, I didn’t want the ones in the office, living room, and dining room to feel so 2000 and late. So I gave them some love. Wax on, wax off, baby.

First I swept up the random dust and old faux Christmas tree leaves and all the other stuff that was left behind.

Not a bad pile for an empty looking room, eh?

Then I bought this stuff at Home Depot because I had heard good things about it when it comes to cleaning and glossing up floors that are old/dulled/mildly scratched (you know, floors that don’t need a full re-finishing but could use some moisture/polish to fill in small scrapes and seal them again).

You know, little stuff like this.

After sweeping, the next step was to use their floor cleaning spray, by just working my way around the room spraying it on the floor and following that with the mop (with the cleaning pad on it). This made me mad sweaty, yo. So I give it a 7 on the exertion scale. You’re not just swabbing over the floors like you’re swiffering, you’re scrubbing the heck outta them to get them nice and clean.

Then came the actual sealing/polishing step. This was a lot less rigorous (so you ARE doing the swiffer motion here). The idea is just to gently spread out the liquid that you’re pouring out of the bottle as you work your way out of the room. Oh and for this step you have to use a polishing pad on the mop (it’s more like a lamb’s wool pad while the cleaning one is a bit more scrubbing-sponge-like). Note: see the green painters tape on my mop? That thing came out of the box all wonky and broken, so I had to MacGuyver it together.

In this picture you can see how the floor that I had done was all moisturized and shiny (top left of the pic below) while the floor behind the polish pad is kind of dull and dry.

Sadly, by the time I worked my way out of the room I was only mildly impressed. Parts of it had dried and looked just like they did before (dull, grayed, slightly scratched, etc) while other areas that were still wet looked awesome.

But once they dried… they were all chalky and dry again. I’m not sure if it was just something about our floors and the way they were refinished decades ago (some folks must love this stuff since we heard great things) but it wasn’t an awesome enough result for me to get going on the other two room’s floors. So it was back to Home Depot, where I bought another brand called Rejuvenate. It came in satin and high gloss but I chose high gloss since the floors upstairs are nice and shiny, which we like.

I still used the same Bona cleaning spray and the same Bona mop (with the cleaning head on it) since I already had those on hand and didn’t mind the job they did. It was just the Bona sealer that had left me high and dry (ok, just dry). So I switched ol’ wonky-mop’s head to the polishing one, but this time instead of using it to spread the Bona stuff, I worked my way out of the room with the Rejuvenate wood floor restorer. The room looked like this before:

And this after:

Granted it still had to dry a bit in that shot above, but the comparison between the Bona stuff and the Rejuvenate stuff definitely left us liking Rejuvenate a lot better. It went on more evenly and left everything rich and sealed looking – even well after it dried. Nothing looked chalky a few hours later, and I was able to apply two coats in each room (you could apply them a few hours apart instead of waiting 24 hours like the Bona stuff required) which was awesome. I even went back and did the office again with the Rejuvenate stuff instead of doing a second coat of Bona in there. And I was so much happier with it.

Update: Here’s an affiliate link to the exact Rejouvenate product we used over on amazon for the folks who can’t find it in stores.  

Here’s the dining room all dry. Flossy and glossy, eh? This is how the living room dried as well, and the office looks the same now that we went over it.

Have you used a floor cleaning and resealing system to bring life back to dull, mildly scratched, or chalky floors? Did you try Bona, Rejuvenate, or something else? Ever tried two different options for a smackdown to the death what’s-better comparison?

Psst – Here’s a post with an update on how the floors are holding up seven months later. Still going strong!


    • says

      I tried the Bona Wood Floor Refresher on my hardwood floors a few years ago. My floors were only a few years old, I just wanted to shine them up. I had really poor results. My floors were left in a cloudy haze. I could take my nail and scrape off the Bona. I spent many hours on my hands and knees trying to get all the Refresher off. My floors have never been the same. I had called Bona and they had told me how to remove the Bona. (I can not remember what they had me use) My floors are now 8 years old and getting worn and will need to be refinished in the next year or two. I am excited about your results with Rejuvenate. I have been afraid to use anything on my floors but think I am going to give this a try!

    • says

      I think ours are in need of a full-on refinishing, but I’m going to try (again) to make them prettier. I tried the Bona but felt the same whomp-whomp result wasn’t worth the effort, so I plan to try the Rejuvenate stuff.

  1. says

    We have hardwoods throughout our first floor and use that Bona cleaner as an every day cleaner. It’s great for just spraying and mopping around to spiffy everything up, but not what I would have expected to be recommended for a deep clean like Sherry wanted! I’ve heard the Bona sealer isn’t so great though, I’m bookmarking this post in case I ever want to try out the Rejuvenate!

  2. says

    Can I just say how glad I am you did this post? I’ve been on the hunt for something that will do exactly the same thing to my wood floors (they look very much like your first floor hardwoods). I didn’t know they had the resealer stuff, so I’ve been cleaning and cleaning and cleaning….

    Needless to say, I will be making a trip to the good ole HD soon.

  3. Katie says

    I’m SO glad that you posted this. Our floors are in need of some TLC and I was having a hard time finding any reviews to compare the two different products. I was leaning toward Rejuvenate (because I had a coupon) but now I know that’s what I will go with. Any idea how you’ll need per square foot? Does the packaging explain well?

  4. Marinn says

    I had heard raves about Bona, too, but have been really unhappy with it. Didn’t think to try another product (duh). I will totally try that Rejuvenate stuff.

  5. Sarah S says

    I cleaned my floors with Swiffer’s Hardwood floor cleaner and wasn’t impressed. Ours are starting to loose their glossiness so I will have to try Rejuvenate and see how they work on ours!

  6. Kathy says

    I use good old Murphy’s soap. I try and stay away from the glossy stuff because it eventually leaves a residue /film . Keep us updated on that ;)

    • Lisa R. says

      Ugh…please do not use Murphy’s Oil Soap on newer hardwoods…talk about residue and film. My MIL used it on our floors a couple of times when we weren’t home and holy residue, Batman. After a while, I had to get down on the floors with a slightly damp rag and some vinegar and scrub Now, I use a steam mop to keep them clean and then use the Bona every once in a while to make them shinier. Murphy’s is great for some uses, but please not the floors!!!

      Sherry – let us know how you do wearing socks on the high gloss…do you notice a difference in them being more slippery? I have two young kids and when they wear socks, they usually take a dive on our floors every few days…so, adding some extra slickness to the equation would not be good right now! ;)

    • says

      They’re sort of the same glossiness of the floors upstairs (so if you run with socks and try to slide you can, but you’re not falling all over the place or anything).


    • Maria says

      When I had my wood floors refinished they advised me that if I every used oil soap or wax on them (even once) I would not be able to have them recoated in the future without fully sanding them down and refinishing. Definitely not recommended by professional floor refinishers.

  7. Angie O says

    I’m SOLD. I really regret not refinishing our floors before we moved into this house, and after 8.5 years they’re really showing it. I am off to Home Depot this afternoon.
    (You guys should get some sort of commission from them for all the recommendations you make that dedicated readers jump on!)
    Thanks for the timely post! I am inspired!

  8. Tiffany C. says

    Heading to Home Depot right now to buy some Rejuvinate before our open house this weekend. Thanks!

  9. Brenda says

    I recognized the Rejuvenate bottle right away because that’s what we use on the wood floors at my office! The floors always look so pretty after they’ve been polished, which my coworker probably does once or twice a year (they get a lot of wear from the metal rolly wheels on the chairs the dentist and hygienist use).

  10. says

    Holy bells! That looks amazing! Almost makes me want to rip up our fake wood floors, put in new ones, scuff em up and put that rejuvenate stuff on there! Almost.

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