How To Get Footprints Off Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are known for their durability and vast range of styles. This is what makes them such a popular choice in our homes. However, there is nothing worse than looking at your beautiful hardwood floors and seeing footprint marks.

How To Get Footprints Off Hardwood Floors

Walking indoors with dirty feet can leave unpleasant footprints on your floors. While areas of high traffics such as kitchens or hallways are the areas where you are most likely to see footprints due to an oily film on the surface.

Luckily, there are ways to get footprints off hardwood floors and in this article we will go through them. 

Do Traditional Hardwood Floor Cleaners And Waxes Work?

If you have found footprints on your sealed hardwood floors, you have considered using hardwood floor cleaners or waxes to do the job. Yet really, these have probably been making things worse. 

You have been finding footprints on your hardwood floors, which is the result of an oily film on the surface of your floor. Traditional hardwood floors cleaners and waxes just add a duller layer on top of the oily surface.

They end up making the footprints and any other marks or scratches on your floorboards more noticeable. However it is easy to remove this film with products you should have lying around your house. 

The reason you are seeing footprints is because of a build up on the floorboards. Therefore, you need to remove and get rid of that buildup and get back down to your floor. 

What Do You Need?

The following items you should be able to find around your house. You will need:

  • A bucket,
  • Mop,
  • Soft clothes,
  • Water,
  • Vinegar. 


  1. In your bucket, mix together one gallon of warm water with 1 cup of vinegar.
  2. Place your mop or soft clothes in the solution, and remove all excess water. 
  3. With your mop or soft cloth, wipe the floor with the vinegar solution. 
  4. Leave the floor to air dry. If you notice little pools of water, don’t let this air dry. Wipe them up with your mop or soft cloth. 
  5. Once the floor is dry, it’s time to test it out. If you can still see footprints when you walk across the floor, then you know that you still have that build up. If this is the case, then you need to repeat the process a few more times, until you don’t see any footprints anymore. Sometimes if you have been using hardwood floor cleaners or waxes for a long time, this could be why the process needs to be repeated. 

Additional Tips For Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

Damp Not Wet Mop

You should never clean your hardwood floors with a wet mop or clothes. They should be damp at most. These floors shouldn’t be exposed to standing water, as that can affect the durability of your floors and affect the look. 

Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

If your hardwood floors are unsealed, it shouldn’t come into contact with any water, as it affects the longevity of your floor. If your hardwood floors are subjected to standing water, then you should mop it up with a towel or soft cloth immediately.

More Footprints Equals Stronger Solution

If you have lots of footprints on your hardwood floors or your floors are very oily. Then you will need to use a much stronger vinegar solution, alongside applying it multiple times. However, you must let it air dry between each application.

Otherwise, you’ll be adding too much liquid to your floors which then affects the durability of your hardwood floors. 

Always Have Some Handy

You never know when the footprints might come back, therefore having some solution on standby is always handy. Having some of this solution in a spray bottle for when you see small areas beginning to get oily again is always a good idea. The spray bottle is just for small areas, you couldn’t clean your entire floor using the spray bottle. 

Avoid Oil Based Cleaners

If you are seeing footprints, that means there is an oily layer/surface on your floor. Therefore adding oil based cleaners or waxes is only adding to the problem, instead of helping.

Sealed hardwood floors don’t actually need to be waxed or even oiled. They do need to be cleaned, so that they keep their attractive appearance. However, to clean them all you need to do is clean them with a damp mop or soft cloth. 

Haven’t Got Any Vinegar?

If you do find yourself without any vinegar and are desperate to get rid of those footprints. You can use unsweetened tea.

You will have to make a batch of extremely strong unsweetened tea. 5 to 6 tea bags for every gallon of hot water. Allow this solution to cool before applying it to your floors. Once cool, you can then mop it onto your floors. 

The acid in the unsweetened tea has similar properties to vinegar. However, a note of caution, this method could slightly discolor light hardwood flooring.

This method is more suitable for darker floors that are well sealed, because the discoloration won’t be seen. Always try to use vinegar, but if you can’t get any then the unsweetened tea method works as well. 


Finding footprints on your hardwood floors is a result of an oily layer on the surface of your floors. To get rid of this, you need to stop using hardwood floor cleaners and waxes as they are adding to the problem.

A solution of vinegar and water will be able to solve this problem immediately. Cleaning your floors regularly, will help keep the oily surface at bay, while also making sure people don’t walk on your floors with dirty shoes. 

Hardwood floors should be looked after and only cleaned with a damp mop or cloth so that their durability isn’t affected. In this article, we have explained to you what you can do if you happen to find footprints on your beautiful hardwood floors. If you have more serious damage, then take a look at our article about how to  remove deep scratches in hardwood.

There’s no need to panic, all you need is some vinegar, water and a mop. Now your hardwood floors will continue to look attractive for much longer.