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!


  1. Linda Bernstein says

    You’re making me crave shiny floors now! Do you think that the Rejuvenate would do a well-enough job on its own, or do you think that it was that + the Bona that gave you the results you had?

    • says

      It definitely worked well on its own (in the dining room and living room there was just Rejuvenate without any Bona under it (we did use the cleaner, but I think any cleaner would do).


  2. Ana says

    I used the Bona stuff before I moved into my house, too, and was similarly unimpressed. It didn’t look chalky/cloudy, it just looked exactly the same as before I used it. Afterward, I felt like I could’ve stopped at the cleaning step. Oh, well. Now I know to check out Rejuvenate.

  3. Mia Sorensen says

    We just had our neighbor come and give us a quote to refinish our floors. Thanks to the timeliness of this goody, we’ll try the Rejuvenate first since we already have the Bona and see if we can delay the inevitable! Happy 4th!

  4. jennifer says

    i love this stuff. it is awesome

    just want to add – clean, clean, clean every speak of dirt before using the restorer. that crazy stuff will seal any left over dust or dirt! like a piece of hair permanently stuck to the floor forever sealed!

  5. KiTX says

    This is awesome to know. We have a lovely hard wood entryway that our 50 lb dog and The Beast (the 75 lb monster puppy) have left in need of some love. Our attempt to bring it back to life with just some OrangeGlo didn’t work so great, so hopefully Rejuvenate will do the trick!

    • Bren says

      Let me know how it works on dog scratches, our foyer is the same. Our one year old golden retriever can’t bark without lifting her front paws and pouncing them down again…crazy dog. Leaves lots of scratches all around where the rug doesn’t reach! Good luck.

    • Christian says

      Hey there. Any luck on the doggy scratches? Our 6 month old house with hardwood throughout the first floor is looking like an ice rink at the end of a competition. :(

      Hoping it isn’t a complete refinish job in the making…

  6. Marianne says

    I’ve tried the bona and had the exact same result you did. I was very disappointed. I’m going to try the rejuvenate now! Hate I wasted that money on the bona. I thought my floors were just gonna be dry and chalky. I have new hope!

  7. Eadie says

    Thank you for posting this. We recently had our old floors refinished and used a no-VOC sealer called Rubio Monocoat. You don’t need a mask or anything and it looked great right after it’s finished. It’s almost matte, and has no poly anything, so it’s more like an oil finish. We love the eco-friendliness of it. Still, it seems to show dirt from our dog’s paws pretty quickly and am looking for something to possibly give it a tad more shine and protection. May have to try this rejuvenate. How is it holding up, and how many weeks since you treated the floors? How often do they recommend retreating? Thank you Sherdog! These posts really help!

    • says

      It has been over a month and it has been great! We have pads on our chairs which seems to help too. No new scratches! No idea how often you retreat (maybe just when they look dull or mildly scratched?).


    • Lisa says

      Love Rejuvenate! We did this to our 1940s parquet when we moved into our home four years ago, and we’re just now reapplying … probably could have done it about six month ago, especially in high traffic areas, but with area rugs in most of the areas we walk, the floors still look nice and shiny peaking out from underneath them! FWIW, we did three coats, but I’m only doing two coats this time since while they’re showing some wear, they still don’t look as bad as when we moved in.

    • Ellen says

      We just had all our floors done with Rubio Monocoat in large part because we prefer matte but also because no VOC, totally green stuff. It looked great though I get sick of people asking me when we are having the floors re-done because everyone is used to shiny floors. To get more shine, use the Satin Sheen product.

      I want to warn everyone, though, that this stuff stains VERY easily. My husband left a pair of dirty, sweaty socks on the floor and next morning – big dark stain. We bought the de-greaser and followed the instructions and now we’ve got a lighter, less dark stain and a place where the finish has been worn off and we have to figure out how to refinish it. This is only two weeks after the floor was done and I’m really not happy about it.

      Check the Rubio monocoat website for info about their cleaning products. I have them but haven’t tried them yet.

      I had gorgeous maple hardwood in my old house and used Boma and thought it was horrible. As everyone else has said – leaves a dull haze on the floor. Can’t believe the flooring guys recommend this stuff.

  8. Jan says

    Bummer about having so much trouble with the Bona kit. I used it on my wood floors and it came out pretty nice. I will definitely give the Rejuvenate kit stuff though…your floors look great!

  9. says

    Wow!! That’s fantastic! Do you happen to know if they have any similar products for wood-like laminate floors (like Pergo type flooring)? Our 2 large dogs haven’t killed the floors in our rental, but they could definitely use a little spruce.

    • Carol Lynn says

      White vinegar works well on laminate floors. The caution with Pergot is not getting them too wet!

    • Krista says

      I keep a mixture of about 2 parts water:2 parts white vinegar:1 part rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. I spray this on my laminate floors and then mop with a dry mop. My husband doesn’t like the smell, but I’m fine with it. This is also my all-purpose cleaner for windows, mirrors, countertops, pretty much everything. The vinegar cuts through dirt and the alcohol disinfects and helps it dry quickly. I’ve recently started adding a few drops of rosemary or lavendar essential oil to add a little shine and nice fragrance. I love it and it’s not full of scary chemicals.

    • anna says

      I checked the rejuvenate website and they do have products specifically made for laminate flooring. They say it gets rid of their propensity to leave footprints every time you walk on them. I have that problem. My floors look dirty right after they are washed because of the footprints. I’m thinking of trying the rejuvenate on them. :)

  10. says

    Oooh, so pretty! They look beautiful. No hardwood floors here. I have scrubbed and “rejuvenated” our tiled floors though. Hours and hours of work, 5 toothbrushes, lots of vinegar, baking soda, Meyer’s soap and kneepads!

  11. Karyn says

    We had our hardwoods sanded and refinished three years ago, and they already look awful. We think the company may have cheaped out on the poly. I have passed by the rejuvenate stuff many times but was leary, because we also tried the Bona and hated it. I’m definitely going to try the rejuvenate now. Amazing results!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *