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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Bleach on Hardwood Floors

By Dr. Laundry December 23, 2011

Q:  Is it safe to use Clorox® Regular-Bleach on finished hardwood floors?

A:  Generally, Clorox® Regular-Bleach is suitable for disinfecting floors made of hard surfaces like ceramic tile, vinyl, and linoleum—not marble or other porous surfaces that aren’t safe for bleach.  Wood is porous, and generally we only recommend bleaching exterior finished wood surfaces, not interior hardwood floors.   Finish composition, quality, and the age of the floor vary from home to home making a general positive recommendation difficult to give.  Depending on your situation, a one-time only bleach treatment might be OK.  You would need to test a less-visible section of the floor first so you know how the treatment will affect the floor.

Another important clarification is that Clorox® Regular-Bleach should always be diluted when used; we never recommend using it full strength for cleaning any hard surface or fabric!  Here’s how you properly dilute it for disinfecting floors that are safe for bleach:


  • Mix up a solution of ¾ cup bleach added to 1 gallon of water

  • Wipe or wash the floor, and then apply the bleach solution, letting it stand for 5 minutes

  • Rinse well and air dry


If you test a small section of the floor first and decide you can safely proceed, then a good technique is to work in smaller sections to be sure you can manage rinsing quickly and efficiently.  Be sure the area is well ventilated while you are working.  Also, keeping kids or pets away from the area you are working in is also a good idea until the “air dry” step is complete.  

Do any of my readers have need to bleach their hardwood floors?  I’d be curious to know the reasons why.