The Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners for the Home

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

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 (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!

  1. BEST OVERALL: Method Squirt + Mop Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  2. RUNNER-UP: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  3. BEST FOR SPOT CLEANING: Black Diamond Stoneworks Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner
  4. BEST FOR STAIN REMOVAL: ZEP Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner
The Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner Options for Homeowners

Photo: istockphoto.com

What Makes a Great Hardwood Floor Cleaner?

Consider the following factors when navigating the wide and varied range of options.

Ingredients

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.

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.

Packaging

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

Best Budget Hardwood Floor Cleaner: Method

Photo: amazon.com

1. BEST OVERALL: Method Squirt + Mop Hardwood Floor Cleaner

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.

Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner for Large Spaces: Bona

Photo: amazon.com

2. RUNNER-UP: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner

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.

Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner for Small Spaces: Black Diamond

Photo: amazon.com

3. BEST FOR SPOT CLEANING: Black Diamond Stoneworks Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner

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.

Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner for Stains: ZEP

Photo: amazon.com

4. BEST FOR STAIN REMOVAL: ZEP Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner

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.