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. says

    I use the Bona cleaner every week and love it BUT BUT BUT…

    the Bona Polish is HORRIBLE. It totally messed up my floors in my kitchen. I had to call the company and they sent me something to remove it.

    It took about 6 months for it to wear off… I will never use it again.

    Just sticking to my regular Bona cleaner… not polish!

  2. Amanda says

    So I don’t know why I’m curious about this, but did you return the Bona, or just buy both? Wondering if the store allowed a return on a used item that you didn’t like.

    We use Bruce hardwood spray cleaner with the same pad-mop and like it.

    • says

      I had used about a third of the bottle so I didn’t try to return it, I just bought the Rejuvenate hoping it would work better and loved it so much I went back for a second bottle to finish the job.


    • ang says


      i’m glad someone mentioned bruce hardwood cleaner. we use it on our mohawk solid hardwood floors and have had excellent luck with it so far.

      just something to look into as an alternative to bona. :)

  3. Kellie says

    Yeah, we heard great things about Bona too.

    This is my unimpressed face.

    I’m glad that the other stuff worked for you, we’ll have to give it a try.

  4. says

    I’ve heard good stuff about Bona as well, but I haven’t tried it. We have area rugs down and I do the between-the-rugs with hot water (2 cloths – one wet, one dry) on hands & knees. It gets it really, really clean from stuff like food spills or potty training “issues”. I like the pledge wood floor cleaner (squirt & mop over clean floors) to help make the floor sparkly and shiny.

  5. Cara D says

    What do you use to clean your floors? Ours are new and I had used Black Diamond which I got off amazon. It is great but for some reason after 6 months of using it I can’t stand the smell. I got the Bona floor cleaner but have only used it once and am not loving it. Any suggestions?

    • says

      I usually just use watered down Dr Bronner’s soap or Mrs. Meyers soap. Something mild and I don’t get the floors too wet (just spread it around with a moist mop and then rinse with a moist mop with just water on it).


  6. Jane says

    Have you tried Murphys’s oil as your hardwood cleaner? I mop my floors every month with that. It was recommended by our previous owners who left the hardwood floors in such a good shiny condition even after 10 yrs of use with 2 babies and cat! So i religiously follow her advice and scrub my floors with diluted murphys’s oil(available at target) .

  7. Layla says

    Oh man, you have me practically running to the store for this Rejuvenate stuff! We have the original floors here in our little 1960 ranch, and they look like they haven’t been very well taken care of in the past. The before picture of your living room looks like your floors were really dull in patches, which gives me hope for our floors! How badly would you say was the original finish worn off?

    Seriously, this might be my holiday weekend project. =D

    • says

      I would just describe them as chalky and dull, sort of like the poly coat was really thin or worn down, but they weren’t all stained and scratched deeply or anything. I think it’s more like a clear seal, so it fills small cracks and shines up dull stuff, but big stains and gouges won’t really be fixed with this (you’d need to refinish).


  8. Stephanie says

    We have used the rejuvenate and have LOVED it! I recommend it to everyone we know. Which without a DIY blog is decidely a much smaller crowd than you guys. If you have hardwoods I think you NEED to have this.

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