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How To Deodorize Hardwood Floors: 5 Easy Steps

How To Deodorize Hardwood Floors: 5 Easy Steps

Knowing how to deodorize hardwood floors can be an essential skill, especially in households with pets or young children where the floors are likely to become dirty and start to smell over time.

Our favorite method for deodorizing hardwood floors is to first spot clean any stains and then wash the rest of the floor using a vinegar solution. Baking soda is then spread over the floor to absorb any remaining odors and oils.

To understand the deodorizing process it is important to know where the odors actually come from, and when you should tackle the problem yourself or hire a professional. In the rest of this article, we will explore the causes, as well as an easy method for deodorizing a hardwood floor.

What Causes Odors On Hardwood Floors?

Knowing how to deodorize hardwood floors is great and all, but if you know what causes the odor in the first place you can prevent it from happening in the future.

Pet Urine

Pet urine is one of the most common reasons for hardwood floors to smell badly.

The problem with pet urine is that it can easily soak through the floor if it isn’t sealed properly, which can make the smell even more difficult to remove. This can also lead to mold growth, which can make the smell even worse than before.

If your floor is sealed properly then pet urine can lead to black stains on hardwood floors which will also cause an odor problem, although these will be easier to remove.


Mold has a characteristic musty and stale smell that will become noticeable over time.

Mold in hardwood floors is usually caused by excess moisture underneath the floorboards. This can be caused by spills, pet urine, damaged sealant or even moisture from the ground depending on the area where the floor is fitted.

If your floor still smells like floor after following our cleaning routine then you will need to get in touch with a professional to assess the damage underneath the floor.


Other stains on hardwood floors can also cause odor problems over time, not just pet urine stains.

Some examples include white spots that form when water evaporates or those from food spills. Stains will start to smell worse over time as they develop into mold and other bacteria, which is why we tackle these first in the deodorizing method.

Accumulation of Dirt

General accumulation of dirt and dust will also smell musty over time and it is why regular vacuuming is so crucial to maintaining a hardwood floor.

How To Deodorize Hardwood Floors In 5 Easy Steps

Let’s jump into the steps for deodorizing a hardwood floor.

Make sure to wear a mask and gloves when cleaning the stains as there could be mold present. We also advise spot testing both solutions on a small area of floor before you use them to make sure that they don’t damage the floor.

1. Vacuum

With most cleaning methods it is best to start with vacuuming your floor to get rid of any loose debris and dirt.

Make sure to use a hardwood floor friendly attachment, and don’t neglect corners as these are areas where dirt will accumulate the most.

2. Spot Clean Stains

If there are any visible stains on your floor then you will need to spot clean these first to get rid of them.

The easiest way to get rid of stains is to use a non-abrasive scrubber such as a non-abrasive scrub sponge or nylon brush:

  • Dip the scrubber into water and then apply dish soap directly to the brush, approximately 1-2tbsp should be sufficient.
  • Identify the stain and scrub it thoroughly with the brush to create a thick foam.
  • Keep rinsing the brush in water and scrubbing until the stain has lifted.
  • Use a clean dish cloth to wipe away the residue and allow the area to dry.

If you want to see some alternative methods for cleaning stains on hardwood floors then check out our guide here.

3. Mop The Floor With A Vinegar Solution

Once the stains have been removed it’s time to mop the entire floor using a solution of water and vinegar.

This will help to thoroughly clean the entire floor and get rid of any remaining dirt and dust, and also smaller stains that you may have missed.

  • Mix one gallon of hot water with a cup of distilled white vinegar as required in a bucket.
  • Use a clean mop to apply the solution to the floor, rinsing regularly.
  • If the water becomes dark quickly you may need to refill it with a fresh solution.

If you notice your floor looks dirtier than before you started mopping then consult our guide to see what may have caused it.

4. Allow To Dry

Once you’ve mopped make sure to let the floor dry completely. The key here is to leave as little water on the surface after mopping, as this can cause white spots.

5. Apply Baking Soda (Optional)

This final step is optional, but if your floor still smells afterwards then you can sprinkle baking soda over the surface and leave it overnight. Once that time is up simply vacuum it up.

Baking soda absorbs oils and greases and is a natural deodorizer that will tackle the remaining odors if they are present on the surface.

What If Your Floor Still Smells?

If your floor still smells after following all of the steps above then it will be coming from underneath the floorboards.

This can be a result of mold or dampness, and you will need to contact a professional to inspect the damage.

Final Thoughts

We hope you have learnt how to deodorize hardwood floors in this article.

Don’t hesitate to contact a professional if the smell persists, and remember to keep the water clean whilst mopping or you will make the job twice as difficult as it should be.