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Published Sep. 16, 2021

Hardwood floors lend a warm and elegant ambiance to any space, and real estate experts estimate that they increase the resale value of a home by 3 to 5 percent. Of course, hardwood floors require specialized care to maintain their pristine condition over time. 

Preserving the beauty of hardwood floors has never been easier due to the plethora of specially formulated cleaning products available on today’s market. Easy, two-step procedures involve spraying or squirting the solution on the floor and following up with a soft mop. Rinsing and drying are not required. 

Today’s manufacturers of hardwood floor cleaners focus on avoiding ingredients that might be harmful to the home’s occupants, including children and pets. Additionally, they promote eco-friendly processes that contribute to a healthy planet. Read on to discover the best hardwood floor cleaner for your next cleaning day.

How We Picked the Products

Methodology

Cutting through the clutter of available hardwood floor cleaners on today’s market, I searched for high-quality products with the most beneficial properties. After sifting through more than 20 product descriptions and reading enthusiastic consumer reviews, I gleaned a list of recommended products that demonstrate effective cleaning power along with attention to the health and safety of users. Here are the criteria that I considered.

Effective Cleaning Results: These hardwood floor cleaning solutions represent an array of products that produce good results. Testimony from thousands of enthusiastic users attest to their effectiveness. I searched for those cleaners that leave floors clean without streaks, cloudy residue, or residue buildup.

Health and Safety: Manufacturers who create safe and healthy cleaning products contribute not only to the health of users but also to the health of the planet. Cleaning products with fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients made the cut. I looked for hardwood floor cleaners manufactured by companies that state their commitments to eco-friendly practices that promote environmental sustainability as well as products that are safe around children and pets.

Cleaning, Not Polishing: Although effective hardwood floor cleaners made the cut, I did not search for polishing agents that leave a glossy shine on hardwood surfaces. Users who want a high-gloss sheen might look for discrete polishing products designed for application to clean hardwood floors.

Standalone Products: Several manufacturers offer liquid cleaning solutions that work in tandem with their corded or cordless, electric hardwood floor cleaning machines. Examples include Swiffer, Bissell, and Hoover. In my research, I focused on cleaners that may be used with any kind of mop, avoiding the need to purchase a specific cleaning machine. 

Brand Reputation: Several products in this list of recommendations represent the results of more than 100 years of research and product development from successful manufacturers of cleaning products. Although other recommended cleaners originated in the more recent past, they also represent brands with superb reputations for high-quality cleaners.

The Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner

No Harmful Chemicals

Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaneris an effective cleaner with environmentally friendly qualities. Bona

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Why It Made The Cut: Awarded the Safer Choice certificate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this cleaner gets hardwood floors spotless while eliminating the harmful effects of unhealthy ingredients.

Specs: 

  • Volume: 32 fluid ounces
  • Weight: 3.21 pounds
  • Application method: Spray on and wipe with a mop

Pros:

  • Water-based and biodegradable
  • EPA Safer Choice award
  • Reputable brand
  • Ease of use

Cons:

  • Not for waxed wood floors

Enjoy both peace of mind and ease of application with a spray-on Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. It requires no rinsing and dries quickly to a streak-free and residue-free shine. On top of that, Bona is carefully formulated to guard the health of people, pets, and the planet. Its simple application includes nothing more than spraying it on and wiping it with a soft cloth or microfiber mop.

This water-based cleaner is biodegradable and composed of ingredients derived from plants, not harsh chemicals. The EPA awards Bona the Safer Choice certificate, confirming that its ingredients are not only effective for cleaning but also safe for humans, animals, and the environment. The list of chemicals that are not present in Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner includes parabens, formaldehyde, phosphates, phthalates, ammonia, and gluten. 

Bona has been in the business of caring for hardwood floors since 1919, when Swedish grocery store owner Wilhelm Edner began selling his bonvax solution to clean, polish, and protect hardwood floors. Now, over 100 years later, Bona remains a leading manufacturer of high-quality hardwood floor cleaners with worldwide popularity. 

Best Value: Pledge Wood Floor Cleaner

Gentle and Lemony

Find value and economy with Pledge hardwood floor cleaner, a trusted brand with a well-known, lemony scent. Pledge

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Why It Made The Cut: With a long-held reputation for reliable quality and reasonable prices, Pledge is well-known for products that safely and effectively clean and preserve wood surfaces.

Specs: 

  • Volume: 3 bottles of 27 fluid ounces each
  • Weight: 1 pound per bottle
  • Application method: Squirt on floor and wipe with a mop

Pros:

  • Gentle cleaning ingredients
  • No residue buildup
  • Fresh, lemony scent
  • Safe on finished and sealed wood surfaces

Cons:

  • Not effective for unfinished, oiled, or waxed wood floors
  • Not recommended for worn wood floors

For finished and sealed hardwood floors, Pledge makes a high-quality cleaning product at an economical price. Simply squirt the liquid directly from the bottle using the specially designed squirt top and wipe the floor with a mop. Work in small areas of approximately 3 by 3 feet and squirt the cleaner onto the floor in an S pattern. Wipe immediately with a mop whose head is covered in soft cloth or microfiber. 

Pledge lets hardwood floors shine through with no streaks or cloudy residue obscuring their beauty. It leaves behind a lemony scent. With no need for mixing, diluting, or rinsing, the job of cleaning hardwood floors is quick and easy. That said, avoid using this product on hardwood floors that have been waxed or oiled as well as floors that are unfinished or unsealed.

Pledge is manufactured by SC Johnson, a family-owned company that has been in business for more than 130 years. They are committed to manufacturing processes and collaborative partnerships that strive toward reduction of plastic waste along with environmental sustainability and healthier conditions for humans.

Best Concentrated Liquid: Murphy Oil Soap Wood Cleaner

Traditional Favorite

Rely on Murphy Oil Soap to clean and maintain hardwood floors with the same success it has demonstrated for 130 years. Murphy Oil

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Why It Made The Cut: Maintaining its popularity and high-quality reputation for over a century, Murphy Oil Soap continues to utilize healthy, natural ingredients that produce superb results in cleaning and preserving hardwood floors.

Specs:

  • Volume: 1 gallon (128 fluid ounces)
  • Weight: 9.36 pounds
  • Application method: dilute in warm water and apply with a mop

Pros:

  • 98 percent natural ingredients (2 percent synthetic)
  • Long-standing reputation for quality and effectiveness
  • No ammonia
  • No bleach

Cons:

  • Must be diluted in water
  • Requires a bucket

Serving the cleaning needs of multiple generations, Murphy Oil Soap is the hardwood floor cleaner used by grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Starting in 1890, Murphy Oil Soap was marketed to the public through the family-owned Murphy-Phoenix Company. In 1991, Colgate-Palmolive purchased the company. 

Murphy Oil soap cleans finished wood and other hard surfaces without bleach,  ammonia, or phosphates. It contains biodegradable, natural ingredients derived from plants. In collaboration with third-party certifications, Murphy Oil Soap created the Compact by Design certification to feature products that meet sustainability standards. 

For cleaning finished and sealed hardwood floors, simply dissolve one-quarter cup of Murphy Oil Soap in a bucket containing one gallon of warm water. Apply to the floor with a well-wrung mop, remove excess water, and allow the floor to dry. There’s no need for rinsing. For heavy-duty cleaning jobs, dissolve one-half cup of Murphy Oil Soap in one gallon of warm water.

Best Spray-On Cleaner: Black Diamond Stoneworks Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner

Safe for Kids and Pets

This spray is safe for household use and provides thorough and effective cleaning power. Black Diamond

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Why It Made The Cut: This easy, spray-on formula thoroughly cleans hardwood floors without harming the home environment or the earth’s environment.

Specs:

  • Volume: 1 quart spray bottle plus 1 gallon refill 
  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Application method: spray-on floor and mop

Pros:

  • Nontoxic and hypoallergenic
  • Safe to use around pets and children
  • Biodegradable
  • Cleans multiple types of flooring

Cons:

  •  Does not leave a polished, high-gloss sheen

While cleaners with harsh chemicals can dry out and damage hardwood floors, this water-based, nontoxic, and hypoallergenic cleaner from Black Diamond Stoneworks

offers effective cleaning without offensive ingredients. Due to its eco-friendly and biodegradable qualities, Black Diamond is safe to use around pets and children. 

Application is easy. Simply spray the cleaner on the floor and wipe with a cloth or microfiber mop. There’s no need to rinse or dilute in water, so the job of cleaning hardwood floors goes quickly. This 2-pack offers one quart of cleaner in a spray bottle with an extra gallon for refilling the spray bottle when needed. Black Diamond is suitable for all types of wood floors, laminate, engineered floors, bamboo, cork, and more.

In 1997, the Black Diamond Stoneworks family-owned company started their business with only five products for cleaning and sealing natural stone and ceramic tile. Today, their product line includes more than 30 cleaners, including this spray-on product for wood, laminate, and engineered floors.

Best Ergonomic Design: Method Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Easy Application

The ergonomic squirt nozzle facilitates the trouble-free application of Method hardwood floor cleaner. Method

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Why It Made The Cut: While Method hardwood floor cleaner yields satisfactory hardwood floor cleaning results, it’s also the only product we know that boasts an ergonomically designed squirt cap to ease the stress on users’ hands.

Specs: 

  • Volume: 6 squirt bottles of 25 fluid ounces each
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Application method: Squirt on floor and mop

Pros:

  • Ergonomic squirt nozzle facilitates easy application 
  • Pleasant almond scent
  • Never tested on animals
  • 100 percent recyclable bottles

Cons:

  • Does not polish and shine floors

Cleaning day becomes easier and more enjoyable when Method hardwood floor cleaner is used on sealed hardwood and laminate floors. The ergonomically designed squirt nozzle easily dispenses the liquid cleaner and prevents puddling on the floor. Especially helpful for users with arthritic hands, the ergonomic squirt bottle makes light work of hardwood floor cleaning for anyone who uses Method. 

After applying the cleaner from the easy-to-squeeze bottle, simply wipe with a mop to reveal a gleaming, clean floor. There’s no need to scrub, rinse, or wax. For added value, cleaning day becomes a multisensory delight as Method leaves behind a rich and nutty almond scent.

The company was founded with the purpose of bringing modern, earth-friendly cleaning products to consumers in easy-to-use packaging. Method bottles (minus the caps) are made of 100 percent recyclable plastic. Their products are tested by people during development, but they’re never tested on animals. With a strong commitment to environmental preservation, the folks at Method regularly measure their impact on the planet, striving to maintain their high standards. Currently, Method is owned by SC Johnson.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Although cleaning products are not big-ticket items, users want to spend their money wisely to achieve satisfactory results. Purchasing the wrong cleaner can result in wasted money. Consider a few criteria before making the most favorable choice.

Finish

The hardwood floor cleaners we recommended are formulated for use on finished and sealed hardwood floors. They are not effective on unfinished floors or on those that have been finished with wax or oil.

Ease of Application

Many hardwood floor cleaners are available in spray-on or squirt-on formulations. These are easy to apply, and the follow-up step of wiping with a soft mop completes the cleaning job. Alternatively, some cleaners require dilution in a bucket of warm water.

Effort

Make short work of cleaning hardwood floors with a cleaner that is easy to apply and wipe with a mop. Most of the products in this list offer spray-on or squirt-on mechanisms, and they do not require the time-consuming steps of rinsing and drying.

Health and Safety

Health-conscious users and those who share their homes with pets and children should pay attention to the ingredients in cleaning products. Consider nontoxic and hypoallergenic cleaning products that are made with biodegradable properties. Many such products include natural, plant-based ingredients. You may choose to avoid potentially harmful components such as parabens, phosphates, chlorine bleach, ammonia, formaldehyde, and phthalates.

Eco-Friendly Practices

In addition to the health and safety of members of the household, shoppers might consider the health of the planet when selecting a hardwood floor cleaner. Several manufacturers state their commitments to promoting sustainability, reducing their carbon footprint, and preserving the environment.

FAQs

Q: Can you use Swiffer mops on hardwood floors?

Yes. You can use Swiffer mops on hardwood floors. For best results, mop in the direction of the wood grain.

Q: Can you use vinegar to clean hardwood floors?

Although vinegar diluted in warm water is sometimes recommended as a cleaner for hardwood floors, it is possible for the acid in the vinegar to damage the finished surface of the wood.

Q: How do you remove polish buildup from hardwood floors?

The best way to remove built-up wax from hardwood floors is to rub with a soft cloth soaked in mineral spirits. Follow up by rubbing with mineral spirits on a fine steel-wool pad. Finally, rinse with hot water on a soft mop and dry with a clean, dry cloth.

Q: What are the most popular hardwood floor cleaners?

Bona and Murphy Oil Soap appear to be the most popular hardwood floor cleaners. Both products have stellar reputations for quality going back more than 100 years.

Final Thoughts

Hardwood floors represent a sizable investment in the beauty of a home as well as an attractive feature that adds to a home’s resale value. The best hardwood floor cleaners deliver pristine cleaning results with no residue left behind. Additionally, they utilize safe and natural ingredients that contribute to the health of the home environment as well as preservation of the earth’s environment.

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