The Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners of 2022

Make dingy floors dazzle with a cleaner specially formulated to give hardwood the care it needs to look great and last.

By Manasa Reddigari | Updated Feb 24, 2022 6:06 PM

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The Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner Options for Homeowners

Photo: istockphoto.com

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 and wax top coats can be a chore because they easily absorb water and require solvent-based cleaners.

Other hardwood floors have polyurethane, urethane, or other finishes that form a waterproof barrier for protection. If your floors, like many, are surface-sealed, read on to learn what to look for in an effective wood cleaner. Plus, don’t miss our list of the best hardwood floor cleaners available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Method Squirt + Mop Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  2. RUNNER UP: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  3. BEST BUDGET: Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner
  4. BEST PET-FRIENDLY: MURPHY Oil Soap Wood Cleaner
  5. BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner
  6. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Pledge Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid
  7. BEST FOR SPOT CLEANING: Black Diamond Stoneworks Wood/Laminate Floor Cleaner
  8. BEST FOR STAIN REMOVAL: ZEP Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner
The Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner Options for Homeowners

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Before selecting the best cleaner for wood floors in your home, consider the type, application method, and whether you prefer a scented or unscented option. Read on for some more information and shopping considerations to consider when navigating the wide and varied range of hardwood floor cleaners.

Ingredients

Whether your hardwood floor cleaner contains cleaning detergents called “surfactants” or are water- and plant-based, knowing what is in today’s cleaning products helps you determine which is best for your flooring.

Look for cleaners that include non-corrosive ingredients—water, weak acids (such as citric acid), or weak bases (such as sodium bicarbonate), otherwise known as surfactants. 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.

While chemical-based options are popular, natural hardwood floor cleaners are water and plant-based making them safe for homes with children and pets.

Concentration

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.

Application Type

Hardwood floor cleaner is usually sold in one of three types of application methods, each with their own benefits:

  • 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.

Scented vs. Unscented

For those that have children and pets that constantly dirty the floors and leave dirt behind, scented wood floor cleaning products can help to make your home smell fresh again. Most brands will include a light scent in their cleaners like lemon, floral, almond, citrus, or a light chemical scent. In the interest of variety and personal preference, some brands choose to make their hardwood floor cleaners unscented. But, each option still provides ample cleaning power no matter the scent.

Our Top Picks

The best products for wood floor cleaning are available in many types for your personal cleaning solutions. Grab your mop and read on to discover our top picks in their respective categories.

Best Overall

Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner Method
Photo: amazon.com

Clean your hardwood floors affordably with this plant-based, biodegradable formula. Considered on this list as the best hardwood cleaner, this formula can also be used on laminate flooring if needed. To use, simply squeeze a small amount from the squirt bottle’s ergonomically-designed shower nozzle and mop it up—no rinsing required. Note that this option does come with a fresh almond scent and is 100 percent cruelty-free.

Product Specs

  • Type: Complete hardwood floor cleaner
  • Active Ingredients: Water and plant-based
  • Application Type: Squirt bottle
  • Scented: Yes

Pros

  • Plant-based formula
  • Suitable for hardwood and laminate
  • Ergonomically-designed shower nozzle
  • Sweet almond scent

Cons

  • Smaller quantity than other options

Runner Up

The Best Hardwood Cleaner Option: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

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 against dust, dirt, and grime. After mopping, there’s no need to rinse any remaining cleaner; it will dry without leaving residue.

Product Specs

  • Type: Complete hardwood floor cleaner
  • Active Ingredients: Water, citric acid, and hydrogen peroxide
  • Application Type: Refill bottle
  • Scented: No

Pros

  • Wax- and oil-free formula
  • Suitable for dust, dirt, and grime
  • Large quantity provided
  • Dries without rinsing

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar products
  • Some users report minimal floor-cleaning effectiveness
  • Suitable for hardwood only

Best Budget

The Best Hardwood Cleaner Option: Better Life Hardwood Floor Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

For those in need of a budget-friendly option, this 2-pack of Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner is 100 percent plant-based for homes with children and pets. Within each 32-ounce bottle is a citrus mint cleaning solution that works on hardwoods, bamboo, marble, laminate, vinyl, and tile. Better Life’s cruelty-free formula also contains no dyes, synthetic fragrances, parabens, and other unnecessary chemicals. Simply apply to the floor through the squirt nozzle then mop.

Product Specs

  • Type: Complete hardwood floor cleaner
  • Active Ingredients: Plant-based
  • Application Type: Squirt bottle
  • Scented: Yes

Pros

  • Comes with 2 bottles
  • Suitable for hardwoods, bamboo, marble, laminate, vinyl, and tile
  • Cruelty-free formula
  • Citrus mint scent

Cons

  • Some users report sticky residue

Best Pet-Friendly

The Best Hardwood Cleaner Option: Murphy's Oil Soap Wood Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

With pets running around the house, it can be hard to keep your hardwood floors clean. When you are fighting paw prints from outings and dirt from playing, the MURPHY Oil Soap Wood Cleaner has been trusted for over 100 years and may be just the ticket. Made with plant-based ingredients, this cleaner has a natural citronella fragrance and can be used on wood cabinets and furniture as well as hardwood, laminate, ceramic, and vinyl floors.

As this is a concentrated formula, you will need to dilute ¼ cup it in a gallon of water before use. For those that use a spray mop, less product will be required depending upon the size of your mop’s water tank.

Product Specs

  • Type: Floor cleaner concentrate
  • Active Ingredients: Water and plant-based
  • Application Type: Refill bottle
  • Scented: Yes

Pros

  • Trusted brand for over 100 years
  • Suitable for wood cabinets, furniture, hardwood, laminate, ceramic, and vinyl floors
  • Natural citronella scent

Cons

  • Requires dilution before use

Best Eco-Friendly

The Best Hardwood Cleaner Option: Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Made for those that prefer to use no chemicals to clean their flooring, the Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner should be in your shopping cart. This water-based, oxygenated, and unscented formula penetrates wood to bring back its smooth, shiny lustre and leaves no residue behind. For added reliability, this floor cleaner is EPA- and Safer Choice-certified. Simply apply to the floor and mop-no rinsing needed.

Product Specs

  • Type: Complete hardwood floor cleaner
  • Active Ingredients: Water-based
  • Application Type: Refill bottle
  • Scented: No

Pros

  • Oxygenated formula provides a deep clean
  • Residue-free
  • EPA- and Safer Choice-certified
  • Unscented formula

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar options
  • Suitable for hardwood only

Best Heavy-Duty

The Best Hardwood Cleaner Option: Pledge Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid
Photo: amazon.com

While a “gentle wood floor cleaner” may make you think this option is mild when cleaning, this heavy-duty formula tackles dirt, grime, and stains with ease. As Pledge is one of the most trusted cleaning brands on the market, the Pledge Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid measures up to the task with multiple cleaning agents including a powerful surfactant for a residue- and streak-free finish. Leaving behind a fresh, lemon scent, this cleaner requires no dilution before use and can be poured directly on the floor and mopped – no rinsing required.

Product Specs

  • Type: Complete hardwood floor cleaner
  • Active Ingredients: Water and surfactants
  • Application Type: Refill bottle
  • Scented: Yes

Pros

  • Powerful cleaning agent included
  • Residue- and streak-free finish
  • Large quantity provided
  • Fresh, lemon scent

Cons

  • Not suitable for worn, unfinished, waxed, or oiled wood floors

Best for Spot Cleaning

The Best Hardwood Cleaner Option: Black Diamond Stoneworks Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

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.

Product Specs

  • Type: Complete hardwood floor cleaner
  • Active Ingredients: Water and biodegradable surfactants
  • Application Type: Spray bottle
  • Scented: Unlisted

Pros

  • Eco-friendly, hypoallergenic formula
  • Suitable for food and drink spills, dirt, dust, and foot- or fingerprints
  • Prevents materials from sticking to the floor after cleaning
  • Easy to apply

Cons

  • Limited quantity provided
  • Some users have reported streaks and residue

Best for Stain Removal

The Best Hardwood Cleaner Option: ZEP Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

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.

Product Specs

  • Type: Complete hardwood floor cleaner
  • Active Ingredients: Water, surfactants, and methanol
  • Application Type: Spray bottle
  • Scented: Yes

Pros

  • Extra-strength cleaner
  • Suitable for spots, stains, and scuff marks
  • Dries quickly
  • Light, fresh scent

Cons

  • Some users report a strong scent and streaks
  • Limited quantity provided

Our Verdict

Selecting the best hardwood floor cleaning solutions for your needs can be difficult with so many options on the market. One of the best options overall is the ready-to-use Method hardwood floor cleaner with its natural, water-based formula, ergonomic squirt bottle design, and sweet, almond scent.

Alternatively, for a budget-friendly option, the plant-based, ready-to-use Better Life hardwood floor cleaner comes with 2 squirt bottles, works on hardwoods, bamboo, marble, vinyl, tile, and laminate floors, and leaves a citrus mint scent behind.

How We Chose the Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners

We researched the most sought-after hardwood floor cleaners in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their type, application type, ingredients, scent, compatibility with multiple surfaces, and other special features included by select brands.

While searching for the best cleaner for hardwood floors on the market, it appeared that the water and plant-based formulas were the most popular among users for their ease of use as well as peace of mind. While not as popular, chemical-based cleaners with surfactants are viable options for deep cleaning and a streak-free, polished finish. No matter the type, each of the above picks cleans floors effectively and comes in a variety of spray or squirt bottles, and refill bottles to satisfy your personal cleaning solutions and preferences.

Though some unscented options are listed above, many picks come with popular scents like lemon, almond, and citrus mint giving your space a clean-smelling feel. While some are meant for hardwood floors only, select picks also accommodate leather, plastic, metal, vinyl, sealed cork, wood cabinets, and furniture as well as ceramic, vinyl, bamboo, marble, tile, and laminate floors.

FAQs

Now that you’ve learned some of the important factors to consider when choosing the best hardwood floor cleaner, questions may still remain. Additional information about choosing the best cleaner for your hardwood floors appears below.

Q: Is it better to sweep or vacuum hardwood floors?

It may be better to vacuum hardwood floors as opposed to sweeping as particles can get brushed up and lost in the sweeping process, leaving dirt and allergens behind. A vacuum made for hardwood floors may be your best bet as all of the allergens, dirt, and pet hair are removed more effectively.

Q: Is steam cleaning good for hardwood floors?

Unsealed hardwood floors may become damaged if exposed to extreme heat, so these types of hardwood should not be cleaned with a high-heat cleaning machine or steam mop. But, steam-cleaning is completely acceptable if done on sealed hardwood floors.

Q: Can vinegar ruin hardwood floors?

As vinegar is an acidic, harsh substance, it can create damage to the finish of hardwood floors if used in a DIY floor cleaner with a mop or scrubbing brush.

Q: How do you clean hardwood floors without leaving the film?

One of the best practices for reducing film on your hardwood floors while cleaning is to make sure you vacuum or sweep it before you mop to reduce the dirt and particles on the floor. Then, use a household or store-bought hardwood floor cleaner and mop normally. To reduce film even further, choose a hardwood floor cleaner that is streak- and residue-free, such as the Pledge Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid.

Q: Why are my hardwood floors cloudy?

Some of the most common causes of smoky, cloudy hardwood floors include product buildup from previous cleanings, trapped moisture, or even using the wrong floor cleaner.

Q: How do you deep clean hardwood floors?

To properly deep clean your hardwood floors, follow these simple steps:

  1. Dry mop, sweep, or vacuum your floors to remove dust.
  2. 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.
  3. For tougher stains or problem areas, add a larger amount of cleaner and scrub with the microfiber pads.
  4. 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.