Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Life For an Old Floor; A Chemical Free Way Using Olive Oil.

When we built our house we used pine boards for the flooring, and they looked beautiful. But, over the years they have gotten worn, stained and scratched.

I have a strong sensitivity to chemicals, so I have been trying to figure out what to use on them. I looked into low/zero voc finishes and discovered that they were just too expensive for the amount of floor space I had to cover, so I decided to give olive oil a try.

I read quite a while ago about making a furniture polish from vegetable oil and lemon juice (the lemon juice smells good and is supposed to help keep the oil from going rancid). I didn't want to use vegetable oil because most (unless they are organic) are made from GMO corn or soy beans, and I don't want to support that industry. That is why I decided to try the olive oil (plus I had some here and didn't have to drive to the store).

I poured some oil into a used yogurt container and added a few drops of lemon essential oil (again, because I had some here) and got started. I used a rag and applied the oil on my hands and knees, but I think a sponge mop would work fine. The night before I had done a small spot to see how it would be after sitting over night. It looked great.

It took me about a week to do most of the house (I still have a little more to do) because I did just an area at a time. I didn't want to have to move large pieces of furniture (huge cupboard in the kitchen), so I just went around them. If I move them at a later date I can do the floor then. That's the beauty of using oil, you can patch places here and there and it will blend in.

I am not sure how long the finish will last, I may have to do it every 6 months or so, but it will be worth it. The floors look beautiful. They have the look of an old cutting board with wonderful patina.

Before and After:
before and after, olive oil


  1. Nancy,

    Your floor looks great.What a wonderful idea.I would never think of using olive oil.
    Did the cats try and walk on them while they were wet? Mine would !!!


  2. Gorgeous! Efficient! Thrifty! Eco-sensible!

    Wow, you've got yourself a winner there, for sure :)

  3. Thanks, Judy. It was tough keeping the cats off....I did find little "oil prints" here and there!

    Thanks, Michelle :)

  4. I would never have thought of using olive oil! Thanks so much for posting this! I have been dreading dealing with our hardwood floors throughout the house but this actually sounds like fun...I wonder if one could use lemon juice itself or a different essential oil like cedar....?

  5. Lord Wellbourne, Lemon juice would be fine, as would other essential oils. I almost used cedar instead of lemon, the smell is so wonderful, but went with the lemon (even a combo of two would be nice).

    Did the bathroom floor yesterday, and it looks great : )

  6. Wow Nancy - your floors looks great! What a great way to protect them. I used olive oil about 6 months ago to get a stain/mark off one of the kitchen chairs. They were newly recovered with leather. I wasn't sure how it would work out, but it worked great! Emily

  7. Emily, the more I learn about olive oil the more amazed I am. This winter we bought an olive oil lamp from Lehman's and it works really well. Gives off quite a bit of light and doesn't burn a lot of oil (no smell). We are planning on getting a few more. Just wish we could grow olives!

  8. The olive oil lamp sounds interesting. Like the idea of it burning less oil and with no smell. What a find! Emily