Washing Wood: Linseed Oil Soaps and More
The fragrance of a true vegetable oil soap made out of linseed oil is fresh, rich and nutty–it even has an archetypal smell that seems to remind one of ancestral roots. Linseed oil also preserves, protects, and beautifies wood. The beautiful linseed aroma combined with its attributes make it ideal for washing wooden floors.
Vegetable-oil soaps can be lovely for washing wood, too, but not all vegetable-oil soaps are soap; many commercial varieties are detergents. Not that a detergent isnít the best choice, especially if you have hard water (soap causes soap scum to form when it combines with the minerals in hard water, and detergents donít do that).
Here are my favorite products and formula for washing my wooden floors:
If you are lucky enough to have soft water, a new floor soap–a vegetable oil soap with linseed oil–has been produced by Ecover. Another brand, Sodasan, is hard to come by in the United States, but it too contains linseed oil.
The key with linseed oil and vegetable oil soaps is to make sure they are made without any artificial solvents and fragrances. If you have hard water, you might turn to using an all-purpose detergent such as Murphy’s Oil Soap, Infinity Heavenly Horsetail, or Life Tree’s Home Soap. The fragrance of Murphyís Oil Soap is a natural essential oil.
You can add some fragrant herbal antibacterial tea such as peppermint or lavender, as well as a few other ingredients I like for wood, such as vinegar or lemon juice because it pulls dirt out of wood so beautifully. Here is my favorite floor cleaning formula:
1/8 cup linseed soap or vegetable-oil soap (detergent)
1/4 to 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup fragrant herb tea
2 gallons warm water
Combine ingredients in a pail or bucket. Swirl the water around until it is sudsy.
Inspired by Better Basics for the Home, by Annie B. Bond (Three Rivers Press, 1999).