Kitchen Hacks

The Fridge Staple You Didn't Know Could Fix Your Hardwood Floor Scratches

Video proof ahead.

July 17, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

Having to be responsible for scratches in my hardwood floors is, not to be dramatic, one of the worst feelings in the world.

In terms of emotional pain, it ranks up there with finding out your favorite coffee shop has closed, or that your go-to sunscreen has suddenly changed formulas for no reason. But in each case, life must go on, so let’s move to the next stage of things: furiously researching to find a way to fix the situation.

In the case of coffee shops and sunscreen, I’ve been there, but probably can’t help you. With the floors on the other hand, experience has actually made me just a little bit wiser—which is why I can tell you that there is something you can do for those scratches, and it doesn't involve sanding your floors and starting anew.

And that’s to fill them with mayonnaise. No, seriously.

This method of healing cracks works best for smaller and more shallow imperfections in your floor, but it’s worth a shot on deeper grooves, too. If you’re wondering why this advice sounds kind of familiar, it’s because mayonnaise is already a tried-and-true secret for getting rid of water stains on wood.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“White vinegar (the kind u can buy gallon size) mixed with water in equal portions is a great, safe household cleaner. Use it in the bathroom, kitchen. Also on windows. It is very inexpensive, readily available, nontoxic,earth friendly. ”
— Paisley

How does it work? Per one source, “the protein and oils in the mayonnaise will help the wood to swell and will actually fill that crack.” As for the “steps,” it’s pretty simple: clean the area to remove as much dirt as possible, then apply a heap of mayonnaise directly to the floor. Some members of the DIY-sphere would have you leave it on for just a few minutes at a time, while others would prefer you allow the mayonnaise to do its thing for 30 minutes or more, before gently wiping the area with a soft rag.

If you’re still thinking, wait, you really want me to put mayonnaise on the floor? Yes, I do! Chances are that you’ve currently got a jar of it in the fridge or pantry right this second—it's always a good time for a mayonnaise-based salad, after all. Plus, you’ve got nothing to lose. Except those ugly scratches in your beautiful floors.

I said I'd give you video proof of the wonders of your favorite emulsion, and here it is. One final tip: When you’ve finished mayo-treating your floors, don’t forget to add any color-matching final touches with another pantry staple—a walnut.

Do you have a tried-and-true cleaning secret? Tell us in the comments below!

Grab your copy

It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

Grab your copy

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • 10Downing
  • Lee
  • londak
  • Lynne Greene
    Lynne Greene
  • marthamsmith
Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady


10Downing September 7, 2019
Just to share a win of mine, please note the African Animals image with lion in the center. You may buy the print on Saatchi.Art, Kathy Cheer is the artist.
Lee September 7, 2019
My mother taught me this in 1960 for water rings and where the dog had scratched the hardwood floor. Doesn’t smell afterwards people, relax
10Downing August 8, 2019
Right off, and I am very much in favor of what this website represents, the alternatives to paper and plastic, which I anticipated, is rather costly for most households with children, senior citizens living on fixed incomes. I know there is a long term investment with these products, but the compost box at $75! Those who can should start a compost in their backyard.
londak August 4, 2019
Floor scratches really don’t bug me that much—adds character
Lynne G. August 2, 2019
W/o mayo? Remove water rings etc. on fine wood furniture by rubbing in toothpaste
10Downing August 8, 2019
For minor kitchen burns, toothpaste kills the pain in whatever digit or part of hand immediately. Great remedy.
marthamsmith August 2, 2019
Mayonnaise on the floor! With dogs in the house?
[email protected] August 2, 2019
I suggest whenever you show a before and after you take the pictures from the same vantage point, that way the grain is the same, lighting, etc
brawlman August 1, 2019
Why would you clean a floor only to smear,wipe and and leave a remnant of smelly mayo behind?
Is this a test of whether someone has common sense to do something so stupid?
Especially if one has pets and doesn't want them licking the floors? SMH...
Andrew C. August 1, 2019
I love F52 but this article is just so inaccurate in so many ways, starting with the headline, it's unprofessional. This doesn't "fix" scratches, nor "heal cracks", and the idea that the proteins and oils will "swell the wood" and "help fill the crack" is nonsense. Water will swell wood (but usually damage it as well); oil won't - otherwise your fine furniture would puff up every time you used lemon Pledge on it. What IS going on here is better described as *concealing* scratches, and mostly in the finish, not the wood itself - the scratches in the wood are still there, pretty much unchanged physically. The reason the scratches stood out before was the contrast between the exposed bare, unfinished wood vs. the finished surface around it. The oil in the mayo (and the oil soap) oils and 'wets' the bare wood to give it a bit of an improvised finish again, better matching and blending in with the look of the finish around it. (It's *possible* some of the protein content of the egg white (or 'albumin', mostly protein - the yolk is primarily fat) could dry and form a sort of 'glaze' or seal the surface a bit, too, but that's a real long shot.) So: does this make your floor look somewhat better? DEFINITELY. Does it "fix" it, "heal" it, fill in the scratches, swell the wood fibers, etc.? Heck no.

(One more editorial tsk-tsk: explaining how it works (or actually, not) by citing a "source", when that source - - simply says the same thing, with no evidence or source itself whatsoever - is something my 10th grade English teacher would've docked me two full letter grades for. Plus, have you *looked* at the site? It's garbage. Current front page example headline: "707-Pound Man Who Refuses to Lose Weight Says ‘I’ll Eat ‘Til I’m Dead’". You cited THAT site? For a SCIENCE explanation? Shame on you, Food52.)
(Disclaimer/qualifications: Outside of my day job, I'm a woodworker and knifemaker - I work with *lots* of different kinds of valuable wood, and finishes, for woodworking and the handles of my ($800+) chef knives. As to the chemistry: I know enough to have a US patent on a catalytic hydrocarbon fuel synthesis process...)
10Downing August 8, 2019
Andrew, if only we all had a US patent on catalytic hydrocarbon fuel synthesis process, we all wouldn't make mistakes as as this wood repair tip.
Andrew C. August 8, 2019
:-) Touche'. I wasn't trying to toot my horn so much as present as being qualified to hold forth on wood/mayo chemistry - at least, more than the 707-Pound Man website. Guess I've been on Quora too much, where they encourage that stuff - it *does* cut down on random idiotic flame wars, though (as anyone who's ever read *any* YouTube video's comment thread of sufficient length can appreciate).
sms August 1, 2019
LOVE Tibet Almond Stick...cost so little...does so much...lasts a lifetime!
karen K. August 1, 2019
This really works! My entrance hallway was stained with salt residue from the winter and it looks brand new after the mayo treatment.
brenna G. August 1, 2019
will this work on wood furniture
Jessica M. July 21, 2019
I've used walnuts to hide scratches and imperfections on wooden furniture before!
Mary T. July 21, 2019
This is amazing, and I can’t wait to try it. I have the same issue, and it makes me feel crazy that the rest of the floor looks great, but where we walk into the kitchen and put away groceries in the frig etc. the floor is so scratched. We are not the kind of folks who make people take off their shoes to enter the house, so I have just lived with this for years. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Paisley July 17, 2019
White vinegar (the kind u can buy gallon size) mixed with water in equal portions is a great, safe household cleaner. Use it in the bathroom, kitchen. Also on windows. It is very inexpensive, readily available, nontoxic,earth friendly.
AprilH August 2, 2019
We also use a vinegar/oil mixture to clean wood surfaces. Between that and the vinegar/water you mentioned you can clean almost anything!
Smaug July 17, 2019
The notion that you can fill a scratch in the finish by swelling the wood with moisture is just nonsense. In the first place it will just raise the crack, in the second place it will dry and shrink back. A Tibet Almond Stick, basically an oil soaked rag in a can, is a convenient way to cosmetically cover scratches in floors and furniture, though it can't restore the integrity of the finish. They've been around forever and are inexpensive.