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. Rebecca says

    Out of curiosity, how long did they take to dry after you put the Rejuvenate on them? I’ve been toying with the idea of doing this to even out some of our floors, but worry about cat and dog hair “blowing into” rooms with wet floors.

    • Layla says

      Ohhh, is this the kind of product that’s not really practical to use when you’re already living in the house? Bummer! Even if we were to spend the night somewhere else, we wouldn’t be able to keep the cats off the floors.

    • says

      It only takes about an hour or two to dry for the second coat and then you can walk lightly on it again in a few hours but it says not to put furniture back on it for 24 hours. So as long as you kept the cats out for the 2 hours after the first coat (and the 2 hours after the second one if you did that) you’d be good.


  2. Erin Port says

    We TOTALLY just painted our house Anonymous by SW in March of this year and I absolutely love the color. We chose it because it wasn’t too brown or too gray either…:) Looks great on your house too!!!

  3. Caryn says

    We Love Bona – not sure if it just didn’t go down well on your floors? We had solid white oak, and now Cumaru floors and it looks lovely each time – but our floors have been and are brand new. We buy the rubbermaid mop handle with attached sprayer – saves your hand muscles by not having to squeeze the trigger all the time! You just poor your solution into the bottle and use it with the handle – way better than bona handle; but we love the bona cleaner (use daily to clean up after dogs) and high gloss polish every 1-2 months.

  4. says

    Those look fabulous! I have a hard time with those Swiffery mops. They are just too flimsy for me. I don’t know if I have amazing brute strength but I’ve bent/broke a few of them right in the middle of the handle. They are just so spindly. Maybe I’m putting all my exertion on it at the wrong angle?

    Do you do your scrubbing more upright? I tend to do it in front of me a ways which might be why I’m pushing on the handle that way.

    And has someone come out with the sturdier version of those yet? I’d invest in one of those rather than replacing the little ones all the time.

  5. Emily says

    I am *SO* glad to read this! We bought a house in October and the floors clearly needed some help. Not enough to warrant a full on refinishing, but just some tlc. I had no idea these products existed! I’ll definitely give them a shot. Thanks!

  6. Janine says

    Oh man. I’m so glad you posted this. Our living room – dining room floors are soooo dry looking and I bought a similar product (the clean clean clean dry dry polish! kit) with really underwhelming results, and the Rejuvenate finish is EXACTLY what I want.

    Gonna try this product for suuurrre!

  7. DawnSC says

    So glad you posted this! We inherited birch floors when we bought our house ~4 yrs ago – which were lovely when we first moved in but are looking a bit worse for wear with 3 animals and a toddler. We’ve since learned that they are apparently on the softer end of the hardwood spectrum and so get marked up pretty easily. I’ve been considering the Bona stuff, but now I’ll definitely be trying Rejuvenate instead! As a side note, this is the second post with wax on/wax off that popped up on my facebook this week. What are the odds. :)

  8. Amanda Bolan says

    I don’t know if anyone told you this – but our Bona mop broke the first day we had it and we emailed Bona customer service- they sent us a super heavy duty mop for free to replace our wonky one. We don’t use the cleaner but have really enjoyed the nice mop and all the mop heads!

  9. beth says

    Just curious…would this work for bamboo flooring? We have bamboo tongue and groove, they too need a little love, so what does the bottle say? Your floors came out fabulous! Happy independence day!!!!

    • says

      I used up two full bottles so I don’t have them around to check but I think it listed the materials it would work for, so maybe check it out online or in the store to see if bamboo is on there?


  10. says

    i may or may not have started singing my best fergie impression while reading this.
    our floors are in need of some rejuvenating so i’m super glad you posted this and shared your preference – thank you so much!

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