Hardwood flooring gets acclaim for its natural beauty, but it requires varying degrees of attention to maintain its good looks. In large part, the maintenance requirements for hardwood depends on its finish. Floors with penetrating finishes (that soak into the wood) and wax top coats (which protect the finish) can be quite a chore to maintain because they easily absorb water and require solvent-based cleansers only—one reason many people opt for surface-sealed wood floors instead. These other hardwood floors have polyurethane, urethane, or other finishes that form a waterproof barrier and protect against light scratches and dents. Their cleaning is much easier to get right because of the wider variety of cleansers that can be used.
If your floors, like many, are surface-sealed, read on to learn what to look for in an effective cleaner. Plus, don’t miss our list of top-favorite picks among the best hardwood floor cleaner options, below!
- BEST OVERALL: Method Squirt + Mop Hardwood Floor Cleaner
- BEST BUDGET: Black Diamond Stoneworks Wood/Laminate Floor Cleaner
- UPGRADE PICK: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
- BEST FOR STAIN REMOVAL: ZEP Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner
- BEST FOR PETS: Simple Solution Hard Floor Pet Stain and Odor Remover
What Makes a Great Hardwood Floor Cleaner?
Consider the following factors when navigating the wide and varied range of options.
Look for cleaners that include non-corrosive ingredients—water, weak acids (such as citric acid), or weak bases (such as sodium bicarbonate). Avoid products containing strong acids or bases, such as nitric acid or sodium hydroxide, as these can strip the finish of surface-sealed floors. Also avoid hardwood floor cleaners containing oil, which can leave a sticky residue, or wax, which can dull the floor finish and leave it slippery.
You’ll generally find hardwood floor cleaners in one of two formulations:
- Complete hardwood floor cleaners can be applied to the floor straight out of the bottle because they contain all the necessary ingredients pre-mixed. They minimize overall time and effort, which makes them great for everyday or last-minute cleaning jobs.
- Floor cleaner concentrate products contain a potent cleaning fluid that must be diluted in water prior to use. While they take more time to prepare, they let you adjust the potency (and pungency) by adding more or less water.
Hardwood floor cleaner is usually sold in one of three types of packaging:
- Spray bottles feature a built-in trigger that dispenses a fine mist of cleaning solution onto the floor. You then either wipe down or mop the floor, which makes this packaging option good for spot cleaning or cleaning small areas.
- Squirt bottles dispense a small pool of cleaner onto the floor, which can then be mopped. This option is versatile enough to use on small or large floor areas.
- Refill bottles contain larger quantities, which you can pour into either a spray bottle or the fluid cartridge of a reusable spray mop. Avoid pouring cleaner from refill bottles directly onto the floor, because it’s easy to accidentally dispense more than intended—potentially causing floors to absorb the fluid and swell. This is a worthy option for larger cleaning jobs of one or more floors.
Our Top Picks
Clean your hardwood floors affordably with this plant-based, biodegradable formula. To use, simply squeeze a small amount from the squirt bottle and mop it up—no rinsing required.
- Nontoxic, biodegradable, and deodorizing
- Fresh lemon ginger fragrance
- Spray-nozzle feature
- Smaller quantity than other options
For spot cleaning, consider a spray bottle formulation like this favorite from Black Diamond Stoneworks. Made with water and biodegradable surfactants, this eco-friendly and hypoallergenic cleaner helps clean food and drink spills, dirt, dust, and foot- or fingerprints with spray-and-wipe simplicity. Also, thanks to an additive, Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner works to prevent new debris from sticking to the floor surface, reducing cleanup effort in the future.
- Water-based formula
- Eco-friendly and biodegradable
- Suitable for spot cleaning
- Also works on other flooring types
- May not be suitable for cleaning large spaces
When you’ve got a lot of floor space to clean, you can load Bona into the fluid cartridge of your spray mop and be on your way. This wax- and oil-free cleaner contains floor-friendly ingredients like water, citric acid, and hydrogen peroxide, all of which work great against handily removes dust, dirt, and grime. After mopping, there’s no need to rinse any remaining cleaner; it will dry without leaving residue.
- Large quantity
- Wax- and oil-free
- Water based and residue-free
- Safe for pets and children
- Heavier than most comparable options
To clean heavily dirt-laden and discolored floors, ZEP Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner is a worthy option. Made with water, surfactants, and methanol, the ZEP formula packs an extra strong punch on spots, stains, and scuff marks. Simply sweep or vacuum the floor, spray down the stained area, wipe or mop, and then dry-wipe or mop the wet surface. Whatever liquid is left will dry quickly, so there’s no reason to rinse.
- Extra-strength formula
- Suitable for spot cleaning
- Compatible with most spray mops
- May require some wiping after cleaning
For those who need a great cleaning solution for pet messes, the Simple Solution Pet Stain and Odor Remover is an easy and effective solution. Made for all hard surfaces and floor types in your home, this formula is made to remove stains and odors with a three-in-one spray function. Plus, this enzyme and pro-bacteria formula is made to be safe for children and pets alike.
- Dual-action formula
- Three-in-one sprayer
- Safe for children and pets
- Works on multiple floor types
- Made specifically for spot cleaning
The Method and Bona hardwood floor cleaners are made to be versatile, safe, and effective without leaving residue or stains behind.
Since both of these mixes are made to be nontoxic, compatible with most types of hardwood and spray mops, and do not require rinsing after cleaning, these can ensure that your floors are sparkling clean and won’t damage or dry out wood over time.
How We Chose the Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners
After evaluating all the key aspects that should go into a hardwood floor cleaner, we determined that these top picks are best for a variety of needs and messes.
Based on the thoughtful ingredients put into each formula, the ability to use most of these cleaners on multiple surfaces and floor types, and the compatibility most have with spray mops, each of these products is reliable for routine cleaning and spot treatment.
Plus, many of the above formulas are water based, eco-friendly, or nontoxic and can be used in households with pets and children. However, some of these cleaners may require a dry mop after use to avoid streaks or footprints.
The way you clean your floors depends upon the messes you usually have in your home. For the best results after cleaning, read on to learn more about how to properly clean hardwood.
Q. How do you deep clean hardwood floors?
To properly deep clean your hardwood floors, follow these simple steps:
- Dry mop, sweep, or vacuum your floors to remove dust.
- Wet mop your floor with a single microfiber pad and light amounts of hardwood floor cleaner. Be sure to mop in the direction of your floor boards.
- For tougher stains or problem areas, add a larger amount of cleaner and scrub with the microfiber pads.
- If there is excess product left after wet mopping, dry mop or wipe with a cloth.
Q. How do you clean hardwood floors without damaging them?
Some hardwood floor cleaning products have the ability to dry out wood over time, which causes damage. To avoid this problem, you can mix a hardwood floor cleaning product with 4 cups of warm water and use a wet mop to clean. For spot cleaning and problem areas, scrub with a cloth and then dry mop.
Q. How often should I clean my hardwood floors?
You should be cleaning your floors daily if you can, but hardwood floors should be cleaned once or twice per week. High-traffic areas in particular should be cleaned as frequently as necessary.