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. Kimberly says

    When we lived in Germany – they raved about Bona as well for our hardwoods – similar to yours. We were never impressed with it.

    Did the rejuvenate help with the scratches?

  2. Laura says

    They look great! As an everyday ( ok that’s a lie- once a week :)) cleaner I use Shaklee’s Basic H. It’s Organic and concentrated. You just mix a very small amt with water and spritz it on and mop it off with a microfiber mop. It also makes the best window cleaner ever. I don’t sell it, I just love using the stuff.

  3. says

    How stanky were the refreshing polishes? We’re moving into a place with somewhat scuffed up floors and trying to figure out what to do about them… I’m pretty sensitive to chemical ick-ness, though.

    • says

      So not bad! I opened all the windows and doors when I applied them, but they dried within an hour or two for the second coat and by 24 hours later when we moved in there was no odor, so within a day when it’s fully cured it shouldn’t be smelly anymore.


  4. Nicole says

    How’d the mild scratches fair? We have hardwoods in our house and will be putting it on the market in the next year and I’m dying to find ways we spiff up our loved (mildly worn & scratched) hardwoods.

  5. says

    I’m pretty sure you just enabled my serious urge for nesting. I have just a small amount of hardwood that needs some love, but not refinishing. Adding this to my shopping list full of cleaning products.

  6. says

    This is so helpful! I used the Bona cleaner for a long time, but then discovered Method’s Squirt + Mop Wood Floor Cleaner and liked it so much better that I ditched the Bona cleaner. I still use the mop, though, and have the same falling apart problem you do. Gonna have to try your tape method! :) Our floors are in need of some polishing, so I’ll definitely have to try out Rejuvenate!

  7. says

    It’s always been my dream to have a house with hard wood floors… when it happens, I’ll remember to go with Rejuvenate! Thanks!!

  8. says

    Did it make the floor slippery at all? That’s always our main concern with two rambunctious kids chasing each other around our house.

    • says

      I think in socks you can have some fun sliding action, but it’s the same as our new floors upstairs (not more glossy and slippery or anything). Clara doesn’t fall around or anything like that :)


  9. says

    Waaaay better. And I am kicking myself for totally not thinking of or doing this myself in our house! We have removed carpet in nearly every room (just two bedrooms to go) and I have been living in dullsville floor finish since then – it didn’t even occur to me to try and refresh them. Off to get some of this stuff pronto…

    • says

      It had a slight odor but once it dried (you could apply the second coat in an hour or two and walk on them in 24 hours) there was no scent.


  10. Marisa says

    My Bona mop is wonky too, the business end falls off in the middle of scrubbing.
    I’ve been wanting to try the polish (I just have the cleaner) so I’m glad to read this review! I’ll skip right to the Rejuvenate as I’m looking for a high gloss shine.

  11. Sasha says

    I tried bona too and was so disappointed. I thought maybe it was just our floors that were in terrible shape (we are renters so no refinishing in our future). I might have to go grab rejuvenate . We are moving out and want everything sparkling!

    • says

      So interesting right? I heard the same thing (rave reviews about Bona) but someone commented and said she loves their cleaner but also has heard their sealer/polish isn’t that good. Maybe it depends on which result (clean or reglossed) you’re looking for?


  12. Samantha says

    You’re lucky, as I’ve heard horror stories about the chalky white residue not coming off. I had a similar incident with Orange Glo a few years ago and nearly ruined brand new hardwood. The Rejuvenate is what saved my floors – great product!

    • Rebecca says

      That’s funny – I was going to mention how much we really liked Orange Glow. We used it on our 5 year old oak wood floors before we listed our house.

      Maybe it depends of the type of wood or finish, so weird!

      I want to do something with the wood floors in our new house but they appear to not have a polyurethane top coat so I’m not sure what to do before we refinish them down the line.

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