How to Clean Hardwood Floor After Removing Carpet

When I first purchased my home, the floors were covered in the ugliest wall to wall carpeting I had ever seen, so naturally the first thing I did was have them removed, only to discover the hardwood floor underneath. Their condition however left a lot to be desired, aside from years of accumulated dust I also had to tackle tack strips and dried adhesive.

Usually the procedures required to clean hardwood floor is time consuming; but, after extensive research I found the following tricks that will give you the same results in the shortest amount of time possible.

Say Goodbye to Dust

First, you need to clean and get rid of dust and dirt as well as any carpet padding that may have been left behind on the hardwood. This can easily be done by vacuuming the room thoroughly.

Getting Rid of Tack Strips

Typically there are three evenly spaced brad nails which are used to hold every three feet of tack strip in place, keeping this in mind you want to start from the corner of a room and work your way inwards. Using the curved edge of a pry bar, line it up with the first brad nail and gently slide it under the tack strip.

Then you need to take a hammer and lightly tap the other end of the pry bar until the tack strip comes away from the floor slightly. Repeat the same process all around the room until all the strips have been removed but be careful not to damage your floor finish by using too much force.

Removing Adhesive

In order to have that beautiful hardwood floor, you need to keep in mind that there are two types of glues that are used when putting down a carpet – general carpet adhesive and tar-based glue. This needs to be removed.

The procedure for removal of both these adhesives is the same but the products used are not.

  • When dealing with general adhesive, which has a yellowish color, you need to apply commercial adhesive remover to it; but, for tar-based glue, which has a dark brown tinge, you can use mineral spirits.
  • Once the remover has soaked in (follow package instruction) the glue begins to loosen, which is when you can carefully use a putty knife to scrape the glue off.
  • Any remnants of glue can be scrubbed away with a rag soaked in either glue removing product.
  • Your floors will then need to be left to dry for a minimum of 24 hours, and if you leave your windows open it allows for better ventilation.
  • The next step would be to refinish your floors but before you can do this you need to sand them to remove any scuff marks left by the carpet or by your cleaning.

The Home Stretch- Refinishing

After sanding your floors you should plug any holes caused by nails by filling them with wood plugs or wood paste (a combination of saw dust and white glue, which you can make yourself). Your floor needs to be absolutely dry before a new finish can be applied; at the same time, you should clean the hardwood once more using the appropriate vacuum cleaner in order to make sure that it’s 100% dust free.

Hardwood Floor

Next, put on gloves and a mask so that you don’t get dizzy from the fumes and open up your windows for ventilation. Either an applicator pad or a synthetic bristle brush is best for applying the finish. Don’t forget to start from the furthest corner of the room and work your way backwards so that you can exit easily.


I’ve personally used these tricks to clean my hardwood floor and found them fairly simple to do. They do require a bit of elbow grease, but the end result is worth it, and you save the money you would have otherwise used to hire a professional team.

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