Keeping hard floor surfaces looking their best is a matter of consistency. Whether it’s hardwood, laminate, vinyl, ceramic, stone, or tile, manufacturers recommend sweeping and vacuuming several times each week as the primary cleaning method. Doing so removes the dust and grit that can damage the finish and make the floor look unkempt. You can damp mop, using a barely wet microfiber mop, as needed to pick up lightweight particles that tend to scatter while sweeping. Occasionally, however, something stronger than water is necessary to bring back the sparkle and shine.
Although steam mopping can help to cut through built-up dirt, and effectively kill germs, excess moisture and high heat can damage some finishes. A good solution might be to use a floor cleaner specially designed for your type of flooring. The best floor cleaners are pH balanced to protect finishes while cutting through built-up dirt, stains, scuff marks, and residue. Ahead, this guide identifies important shopping considerations and reviews some of the best floor cleaners on the market today.
- BEST OVERALL: Rejuvenate High Performance All-Floors Cleaner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Zep Neutral pH Floor Cleaner Concentrate
- BEST NATURAL CLEANER: Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner
- BEST FOR VINYL FLOORS: Mannington Rinse-Free Cleaner
- BEST FOR WOOD FLOORS: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
- BEST FOR CERAMIC FLOORS: Black Diamond MARBLE & TILE FLOOR CLEANER
- BEST FOR STONE FLOORS: Black Diamond Limestone and Travertine Floor Cleaner
- BEST FOR LAMINATE FLOORS: Bruce Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Floor Cleaner
When choosing a floor cleaner, match the cleaner to the floor type for best results. Read on to learn more about the different kinds of floor cleaners and how to select the best one for your floors and lifestyle.
Floor & Cleaner Type
Each type of floor covering has unique characteristics that require slightly different treatments. Some cleaner formulations could be used for general household use and different floor types, while others are made for specific surfaces.
- Vinyl floors are easy to clean with any pH-neutral cleaner. Avoid film-forming cleaners, abrasives, and ammonia-based products to protect the finish.
- Wood flooring is susceptible to damage from excess moisture. Finishes are damaged easily by acidic cleaners, scouring cleaners, and solvents. Instead of wet mopping hardwood floors, use a pH-balanced cleaner to spot treat soiled areas, or in a spray-and-wipe solution while damp mopping.
- Stone floors are easily damaged by acidic cleaners, lime and scale removers, abrasives, and strong cleaners such as bleach. For everyday cleaning, use a damp cloth and a drop of pH-neutral soap. Only use products that are formulated specifically for natural stone. Use a soft bristle brush to remove crusted soil and soap scum.
- Ceramic tiles and grout are sealed to keep dirt from penetrating the surface, so it’s important to avoid using abrasives that would damage the finish. Clean tile floors with a neutral pH cleaner. Avoid abrasives and acidic cleaners.
- Laminate flooring is often made with wood, so it is important to limit moisture exposure. Avoid wet mopping and steam cleaning. Damp mop with a spray-and-wipe cleaning solution for routine cleaning. Clean up stains and deep clean with a neutral pH cleaner and a microfiber cloth.
Natural vs. Chemical
Conventional chemical-based floor cleaners have been around for generations. They use ingredients like chlorine, ammonia, alcohol, and others to dissolve dirt, disinfect surfaces, and remove odors. Household chemical cleaners are safe when used as directed. However, some users experience eye, nose, or throat irritation from the odors of these chemicals, especially when used in enclosed spaces. Also, a higher exposure level to some of these products is linked to a variety of chronic health problems.
Natural floor cleaners use concentrated forms of recognizable ingredients such as vinegar, citrus oil, baking soda, and essential oils to get the job done. These products can be as effective as chemical cleaners. They generally use less toxic ingredients, and show reduced rates of user discomfort, although some ingredients might cause allergic reactions. Care must be taken to choose products that will not damage surfaces due to abrasion or acidity.
The smell of a just-cleaned floor shouldn’t be an irritant. While the smell of bleach may make you reminisce about days at the pool, a less potent aroma might be more desirable in your living space. Some of the more popular cleaner scents include citrus, pine, lavender, or floral. For those with a sensitive nose, fragrance-free cleaners might be the best way to go.
Floor polishes are products that leave a micro-film on the floor. This film serves to rejuvenate worn-looking floors by filling in tiny scratches, dings, and divots in the finish, leaving behind a fresh, smooth, clear coat. Polish is meant to be used infrequently. If used too often, these products cause a buildup on the floor, and might even trap dirt beneath the polish layer.
Daily and weekly cleaning should be done with a vacuum and a damp mop, using a floor cleaner that does not form a film. When the time comes to polish the floors, use floor polish recommended by your flooring manufacturer, following the instructions on the label.
The most effective way to apply floor cleaner for routine maintenance is to lightly apply the product directly to the floor with a squirt or spray bottle, then wipe it up with a damp microfiber mop. Concentrated products should be diluted before application.
For large rooms, dilute the concentrated cleaner in a bucket of water. Dip a mop into the solution and wring it out thoroughly before wiping down the floor. Rinse and re-dampen the mop frequently with this method, and be sure to change dirty water as often as needed.
Our Top Picks
Be sure to use the right floor cleaner to keep your floor looking its best. With the shopping considerations in mind, the following are some of the best floor cleaners available to help you decide.
Rejuvenate High Performance All-Floors Cleaner comes in a nonconcentrated, ready-to-use formula. No bucket is required; simply spray the cleaner directly on the floor and wipe it up with a microfiber mop. The pH-balanced, neutral formula is safe for regular cleaning of hardwood floors, plus most tile, vinyl, linoleum, and laminate floors. It removes dust and tough dirt, along with chemical residue and old wax buildup, and does not leave a residue. The cleaner comes in a spray bottle that fits into the Rejuvenate Click n Clean Multi-Surface Spray Mop and in a refillable bottle (both sold separately).
Zep Neutral pH Floor Cleaner is a neutral cleaning formula that maintains the floor’s polish without stripping the protective coating. Dilute this 1-gallon concentrate with water to mix up to 128 gallons of ready-to-use product. It is suitable for use on vinyl, marble, granite, and stone floors. The no-rinse formula saves time and effort. Do not use on hardwood floors or wood surfaces.
Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner is made with 100 percent plant-derived cleaning agents, from corn and coconut, and contains no VOCs, alkylphenol surfactants, or petroleum products. The pleasant, natural mint scent is made with botanical extracts. It safely cleans and restores a bright shine to hardwood, ceramic tile, stone, vinyl, laminate, bamboo, and other sealed flooring. A great choice for daily cleaning, this natural product requires no rinsing and leaves no residue.
Mannington Rinse-Free Cleaner is a concentrated formula that is quick and easy to apply and features a pleasant lemon scent. The 1-quart container makes up to 16 gallons of cleaning solution. Apply with a damp sponge mop, or apply full strength to spot treat heavily soiled areas. It dries to a bright shine and leaves no film. This cleaner is recommended for sheet vinyl and vinyl tile floors.
Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner uses a water-based formula and residue-free cleaning ingredients to keep hardwood floors looking their best. The cleaning solution is safe for people, pets, and the environment. Apply the ready-to-use formula with a spray bottle before wiping up with a microfiber mop, or load a refillable cartridge into the reservoir of your spray mop. It is safe for unwaxed, unoiled, polyurethane finished wood floors. This 128-ounce bottle can refill spray bottles and mop cartridges.
Black Diamond Marble & Tile Floor Cleaner is specially formulated for use on marble, limestone, travertine, granite, slate, ceramic, and porcelain tile. One gallon of this concentrated formula makes up to 64 gallons of cleaning solution; only a few ounces go into each gallon of water when ready to mop. The no-rinse formula leaves a streak-free finish with no residue. It is hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and safe for use around children and pets.
Black Diamond Limestone and Travertine Floor Cleaner is specially formulated to clean pH-sensitive stone surfaces like limestone, travertine, marble, slate, and porous stone surfaces. It enhances color to highlight the beauty of natural stone. It also works well on polished concrete. The formula is pH neutral, biodegradable, and safe for use around children and pets. This 1-gallon concentrated formula makes up to 32 gallons of cleaning solution.
Bruce Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner lifts dirt from the floor’s surface and leaves no film behind. Apply this ready-to-use formula with a spray bottle or spray mop directly to the surface, and wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth for spot cleaning and everyday, routine cleaning. It requires no rinsing. The product is suitable for laminate flooring, as well as unwaxed urethane-finished hardwood floors.
FAQs About Floor Cleaners
A new floor cleaner will help keep your place looking great day in and day out. Read on to learn more about buying, storing, and using the best floor cleaner.
Q. Do different floors require different cleaners?
Always check the label on the cleaner and know your floor’s needs. Some cleaner formulas are meant for general purpose use, while certain floor types and finishes require specific treatments.
Q. Are floor cleaners harmful to people and pets?
Exposure to both chemical and natural cleaning products can cause side effects, including minor irritations, allergic reactions, and chronic illness. Be sure to read warning labels for specific hazards and possible side effects. Floor cleaners should always be stored securely where children and pets will not have access.
Q. Why does my floor have streaks after mopping?
Traces of loose dirt left on the floor before mopping or dirty mop water both can lead to streaking. Always sweep and vacuum loose dirt from the floor before mopping. Damp mop several times per week to remove fine dust and debris that the broom leaves behind. If cleaning with a mop bucket and a wet mop, change the water whenever it becomes dirty.
Better yet, switch to a spray-on cleaner and microfiber mop. Spray the surface, and wipe with the mop. Change the microfiber cover when it becomes visibly dirty.