Friday, November 9, 2012

hand sanitizer on hardwood floor

I am using precious time to post on a breakthrough I had today, because I had a hard time finding information on the Internet about it and want this post to be a resource (hopefully) for someone in the same position.

BACKSTORY: Soon after Camilla's birth, two white spots showed up on our hardwood floor (solid hickory). I tried to rub them out with all the cleaners I had on hand, but to no avail. After a few days' investigation, I determined the culprit was hand sanitizer. We had set up a changing table downstairs in the family room, right next to the kitchen and, hence, the hardwood floor. The label on hand sanitizer says that the small amount of alcohol in the ingredients can damage the finish on some hardwood floors.

So I was as vigilant as I could be with the hand sanitizer, trying to make sure we wiped up every drop thereafter. I had some success, but eventually I lost the battle as more white spots kept popping up. At least once I had a disturbing dream about white spots all over our wood floor that weren't going away. But I was able to settle into mild acceptance of the situation.

CONTINUING PROBLEM: A few days ago, we found Henry indulging in the hand sanitizer by spreading gobs of it over himself and the floor. I cleaned it up as thoroughly as possible, but the next day ten new spots showed up on the hardwood floor. I was feeling a bit sick about the whole situation, not wanting to have to re-finish the floor but not excited about the abstract art creeping across our kitchen floor.

I googled information about how to remove hand sanitizer spots from hardwood floors and found two plausible suggestions: (1) use baby oil and (2) wax out the stain/damage. I tried the first suggestion with some success! The recent spots came out easily! But the old spots remained.

I went to Lowe's and asked for help finding a wax for a hardwood floor with a polyurethane finish. A waxing product does not exist for such a floor, but we did find lemon oil polish (Old English brand). I had also read that using the finest steel wool to rub in the oil would help to remove the hand-sanitizer spots. So, I also picked up a package of 0000 steel wool. I came home and tried the most inconspicuous spot first: I put a few drops of lemon oil on the steel wool, then I rubbed vigorously over the spot. It disappeared fairly quickly. Henry then helped me by finding the 15 or so remaining white spots, and I was able to successfully rub them out with the lemon-oil-infused steel wool.

I rubbed away the oil and the floor's finish looks fine--no difference in gloss or shine. If you happen to have a similar situation, this solution is great: cheap, relatively easy, and effective.

17 comments:

Rebecca said...

Oh my goodness. I admire the thoroughness of your housekeeping.

social commentator said...

gracias, merci, thanks

Radag Shed said...

Your suggestions are awesome.Simple techniques to follow. Excellent and useful post.Thanks for sharing.

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Jayden Eden said...

I once had to hire hardwood flooring services in Los Angeles after my son continually kept allowing our dog to dispose of his bodily functions on our floor. He thought it was funny saying, "Sewage green is the new black."

TetonCowgirl said...

Many thanks for taking the time to post this. This just happened to me.

Angela Hoffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Hoffman said...

Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I'm a teacher, and the floor of my classroom has horrible spots on it from where the hand sanitizer has eaten at the waxed, tile finish. Our custodial staff couldn't figure out how to remove the spots, so I've been looking everywhere for some type of strategy. I don't know if your techniques will work on waxed, tiled floors, but I'm being hopeful!

Laurel said...

Thank you so much for your comment on wood floors and hand sanitizer spills. I didn't read the complete post because I decided to use a mildly used green scrubby pad. I think your steel wool oil pad would be great also. But my green think worked and the oil made it look beautiful again. I thought my floor was ruined. Thanks Again
Laurel Strickland

Pamela Merritt said...

Great idea! I tried it on my stained and polished concrete floor that was white with hand sanitizer. It worked! Thanks again.

gr8dane357@yahoo.com said...

Hi All,
just wanted to post and say thanks! Mayo did a great job for us.
Many thanks!

Mike Brada said...

Yes, I have been looking for this all day better now
than never!
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mandyhohope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mandyhohope said...

Did you try it out yet?? I'd love to know as I'm a teacher as well and I have to wait till the end of each year for them to strip my tile and rewax before the spots go away. I'd love to be able to polish it up here and there in between.

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