A well-maintained hardwood floor can stand the test of time and look great for years to come. When it comes to cleaning hardwood floors, choosing the right product is key, as is using it in moderation, says Jessica Samsom, director of national branding at The Maids.
“Try not to spray on too much cleaner as too much water and moisture can damage your hardwood floors,” Samson says.
To find the best hardwood floor cleaners we researched a variety of picks, keeping in mind each pick’s scent and application method. In addition to Samson, we also consulted with Kathy Cohoon, an area representative of Two Maids & A Mop, for additional advice on choosing the right hardwood food cleaners.
Our top pick, Murphy Original Formula Oil Soap, is a trusted brand that’s been used on hardwood floors for over 100 years. We chose it as our best hardwood floor cleaner because it’s effective, affordable, and has a fresh and clean scent.
Here you’ll find our picks for the best hardwood floor cleaners.
Murphy Original Formula Oil Soap
Why You Should Get It: The cleaner works on cabinets and multiple types of flooring.
Keep in Mind: It’s scented and has to be diluted before use.
Trusted for over 100 years by homeowners to take care of their hardwood floors, Murphy’s Original Formula Oil Soap is our pick for its plant-based ingredients, natural citronella fragrance, and ability to be used on other wood fixtures in the home.
This is a concentrated formula, which means a big bottle will last for a long time, and that will save you money and create less waste. To use, dilute ¼ cup of soap per one gallon of water before mopping. If you’re using a spray mop, you’ll need to calculate the percentage depending on the size of your mop’s water tank.
This cleanser also works on many other surfaces in the home. Dilute it and use it to clean flooring materials like tile, linoleum, vinyl, and other hard flooring. You can even use this soap to clean cabinets, bookcases, and other wood furniture—and we’ve found a dab of undiluted oil soap can really smooth out a scratch on a piece of fine furniture.
Murphy’s Original Formula Oil Soap hits every item on our list for a hardwood floor cleanser, including a pleasing scent, ingredients we trust, a reasonable price point, and a reputable brand name.
Price at time of publish: $6
- Scent: Citronella
- Application: Dilute with water, wet mop onto floor
Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner Spray
Why You Should Get It: The cleaner is Safer Choice and Greenguard Gold certified, easy to use, and offered in both scented and unscented versions.
Keep in Mind: It’s more expensive than some similar products.
Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner is so easy to use: Just spray your floors with the water-based solution one section at a time, and dry mop it up with a microfiber mop. It really lifts dirt, dust, and stuck-on grime without a lot of elbow grease and can even be used in conjunction with a microfiber cloth for spot cleaning.
The Bona spray is Greenguard Gold certified, meaning it’s been rigorously tested for chemical emissions, making it a good choice for anyone with pets and kids who might spend a lot of time on the floor. It’s also Safer Choice certified, which means the ingredients used were deemed safe for both humans and the environment.
Finally, this spray cleaner leaves floors shiny and without streaks and residue. The wax- and oil-free solution contains ingredients like water, citric acid, and hydrogen peroxide, and there’s no need to rinse after you mop, so you can just sit back and let it dry. Although it’s a bit more expensive than some other options, it’s offered in either a rosemary scent or unscented, so you can choose which works best for your space.
Price at time of publish: $9
- Scent: Rosemary or unscented
- Application: Spray and dry mop
Best Heavy Duty:
Pledge Gentle Wood Floor Cleaner
Why You Should Get It: The cleaner can be used on multiple floor types and does not require dilution.
Keep in Mind: It’s only safe to use only on finished and sealed surfaces.
The Pledge Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid is specially designed to safely and gently remove dirt and grime from hardwood floors, but will work on other floor types in your home. The heavy-duty formula contains strong surfactants that clean well but won’t damage your floors to tackle dirt, grime, and stains with ease, so it’s one of the best hardwood floor cleaners to consider.
This is a complete cleaner that you don’t have to dilute—to use, just squirt the cleaner directly on your floor and get to work. Once you’re done mopping, your floor will dry to a nice shine in about 15 minutes, no rinsing required. Just keep in mind that the lemon-scented cleaner can only be used on finished and sealed surfaces.
Price at time of publish: From $30
- Scent: Lemon
- Application: Squirt and dry mop
SC Johnson Paste Wax
Why You Should Get It: The cleaner gives floors a shiny luster and helps make scratches less visible.
Keep in Mind: The cleaner can be more labor-intensive to use compared to other cleaners.
Floor wax seals the porous wood surface, protects from stains, hides scratches and dents, and increases shine. If your floor could use a wax coating, the best hardwood floor cleaner is the SC Johnson Paste Wax.
This wax is really all you need for restoring your worn out wood floors. The hard-finish wax blend has a multipurpose formula that deep-cleans hardwood floors and leaves them shiny and satiny.
Paste waxes, like SC Johnson, are usually made from Carnauba wax. The wax itself is a naturally-derived wax extracted from Carnauba palm trees, and the wax forms on the tree’s leaves and protects them from heat and moisture.
Before waxing, sweep or vacuum, then apply to floors with a mop or rag. Let the wax soak in and dry, then buff it to shine. You can use SC Johnson Paste Wax on other items like wooden furniture, leather, metal, cork, and vinyl, too.
Price at time of publish: $28
- Scent: Not listed
- Application: Rub in, buff
Method Squirt + Mop Wood Floor Cleaner
Why You Should Get It: The almond-scented cleaner can also be used on laminate floors.
Keep in Mind: The cleaner is more expensive and smaller than some other similar options.
If you’re familiar with the always well-scented Method brand, it will come as no surprise that this natural formula hardwood floor cleaner came out tops as best scented. This complete cleaner is so easy to use—simply squeeze a small amount from the bottle’s ergonomically designed squirt nozzle onto the floor and mop it up.
The nozzle works as a shower-style spray that distributes just the right amount of solution across the floor, so you won’t have a big puddle of cleanser. Plus, there’s no rinsing or bucket required!
The plant-based, biodegradable, and wax-free solution gets your floors sparkling clean with an all-natural blend of water, coconut oil, organic solvents, and baking soda. Of course, there’s the scent, which is a gentle almond that’s not as overpowering or cloying as many traditional home cleaning solutions. Though it’s on the pricier side in comparison to other cleaners, you’ll also be able to use it on laminate floors as well.
Price at time of publish: $15
- Scent: Almond
- Application: Squirt on floor, dry mop
Libman Hardwood Concentrated Floor Cleaner
Why You Should Get It: It has a pre-dosing compartment so it’s easy to monitor how much cleaner you’re using.
Keep in Mind: It’s scented, so it depends on your preferences.
Part of what makes the Libman Concentrated Floor Cleaner one of the best hardwood floor cleaners is the innovative handle that makes it easy to carry. Plus, the concentrate is effective in keeping floors clean and shiny.
For any concentrate that requires diluting, measuring is always part of the process. Libman’s cleaner makes that easier with a design that has a handle for easy carrying, and a measuring cup built into the cap. Just squeeze the bottle to fill the measuring cap with the recommended dose of cleaner and pour it directly into your bucket.
Speaking of features to like, just one bottle of Libman’s makes four gallons of cleaner and can be used with your own mop (or bucket). The Libman concentrate is soft and gentle while cleaning your floors, but it’s worth noting that it has a citrus scent, so it depends on your preferences.
Price at time of publish: $18
- Scent: Citrus
- Application: Dilute with water and mop
Weiman Hardwood Polish and Restorer
Why You Should Get It: It won’t leave behind any sticky residue.
Keep in Mind: It cannot be used on unsealed floors.
Specifically designed for high-traffic areas in your home, the Weiman polish uses a micro-filling technology that promises to fill in existing scratches and forms a protective layer on top of the floor to prevent damage. This product can be used on any finished hardwood surface and promises not to leave any sticky residue, only a beautiful shine.
Part of what makes this pick one of the best hardwood floor cleaners is the product doesn’t require a multi-step process. You apply the product directly to the floor with a microfiber mop and then let it dry. In about 30 minutes, your floors will develop a beautiful shine.
Finally, Weiman’s floor polish is formulated to be safe for the whole family, with no harmful fumes. It is important to note that this polish and restorer is not for unsealed floors, however, so be mindful when you’re using it.
Price at time of publish: $14
- Scent: Pine, cherry
- Application: Squeeze directly on floor, dry mop
Best Pet Friendly:
Puracy Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate
Why You Should Get It: The multi-surface cleaner is made with plant-based ingredients.
Keep in Mind: The solution needs to be diluted and may leave some streaks on glass.
For a safe, versatile cleaner formulated with plant-based ingredients, look no further than our best pet-friendly hardwood floor cleaner, Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate.
This cleaner is made in the U.S. and is formulated with renewable and biodegradable ingredients. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic, vegan, and certified cruelty-free. What’s notable about this formula is that while the ingredients are gentle, it still has the ability to remove dirt and grime from your floor.
To use, you’ll need to first dilute the concentrate. Once diluted, this multi-purpose cleaner can be used in kitchens, bathrooms, on blinds, granite, glass and much more, in addition to your hardwood floors. The natural cleaner works very well on most wood, but can leave some streaks on glass.
Another point in Puracy’s favor is the delicate Green tea and lime scent, which leaves your home smelling more like a spa visit, without that tart sting of some lemon-scented products.
Price at time of publish: $15
- Scent: Green tea and lime
- Application: Dilute with water, spray, and wipe with dry cloth or mop
Best for Spot Cleaning:
Swiffer WetJet Wood Floor Mopping and Cleaning Starter Kit
Why You Should Get It: The kit includes both a mop and cleaning solution. The illuminated mop head also
Keep in Mind: It cannot be used on unfinished wood or unsealed tile.
The Swiffer WetJet Wood Floor Mopping and Cleaning Starter Kit is perfect for a quick spot cleaning on your hardwood floors. The unique, dual-nozzle sprayer disperses a super-fine mist that completely coats the floor where you aim it. The ultra-flexible, swivel mop head is also illuminated, allowing you to make sure you’ve completely cleaned up the offending spot.
The cleaning solution has everything you’d want in a good hardwood floor spot cleaner— it cleans quickly, brings out the floor’s natural shine, doesn’t require a bucket or rinsing, and dries quickly. It’s one of the best hardwood floor cleaners to consider but keep in mind that it can’t be used on unfinished wood or unsealed tile.
Price at time of publish: $30
- Scent: Not listed
- Application: Spray mop
Best Eco Friendly:
E-Cloth Deep Clean Mop
Why You Should Get It: The Microfiber mop pad is machine-washable and doesn’t require any cleaning solution.
Keep in Mind: You’ll need more storage space for this option, as opposed to other cleaners.
The E-Cloth Deep Clean Mop doesn’t require replacement cloths or additional solution, making it one of the best hardwood floor cleaners to consider if you want a more eco-friendly option. Just dampen the microfiber mop head with water, and it works like a magnet to pick up all the dirt and grime on your hardwood floors,
To use the mop, simply run the microfiber head under water, wring it out, and attach it to the mop base using the hook-and-loop fasteners. Once you’re done cleaning, the mop head is machine-washable and promises to last about one year, or 100 washes. You can also sanitize (and degrease) the cloth by boiling it in water for a few minutes, and then wringing it out to dry.
The one thing the E-Cloth is not is a dust mop. While it will work on most floors, it’s not designed to pick up dust, so be sure to vacuum or sweep before using it. Plus, you’ll need a bit more storage space to keep this style at home as opposed to other options.
Price at time of publish: $30
- Scent: Not listed
- Application: Add water to mop head and wet mop
Bissell SpinWave Cordless Hard Floor Mop
Why You Should Get It: The cordless design features a spray mop and works on other floor types.
Keep in Mind: The batter life is 20 minutes.
We had to include the Bissell SpinWave as our best mop for hardwood floors because it really gets them clean and shiny without a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease. One of the best things about this mop is that it’s cordless, so you’re not attached to a bucket while you’re moving through your home.
The cordless mop works fairly quickly and operates using an 18V lithium-ion battery. Just keep in mind that it’ll give you about 20 minutes of cleaning time per use, so it may not be ideal if you need to clean multiple rooms at home.
The Bissell comes with two soft-touch pads, and two scrub pads (for tougher spots), that are machine-washable. The pads are eco-friendly as they can be reused, and if you launder them regularly, you won’t feel like you’re just pushing muck around on your hardwood floors.
Price at time of publish: $155
- Scent: Not listed
- Application: Spray mop
The Bottom Line
Overall, the best hardwood floor cleaner is the Murphy Original Formula Oil Soap, as it’s affordable, effective, and compatible with multiple surfaces. If you’re looking for a spray option, the Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner is safe and easy to use.
What to Know About Hardwood Floor Cleaners Before Shopping
There are a few factors you may want to consider when looking for the best hardwood floor cleaner for your home, and we’ve looked at all of them in detail below. But note that which cleaner you choose is going to come down to individual preference, and we encourage you to consider what’s right for your home and family.
Knowing what’s in your cleaning products always helps you determine what’s best for your flooring. You’ll want to look for cleaners that aren’t corrosive, like water, weaker acids like citric acid, and weaker bases like sodium bicarbonate. These are known as surfactants, meaning surface active agents, that stir up activity on the surface you are cleaning to help trap dirt and remove it from the surface.
Corrosive products will contain strong acids and bases, like nitric acid or sodium hydroxide, and these can strip the finish of surface-sealed floors. Some may also want water- and plant-based cleaners, but all will have some form of chemical cleaning agent.
The best (or worst) thing about cleaning the floors in your home is that your house will often smell of it for days. If you’re sensitive to odors, look for a scent-free or lightly scented cleaner that will dissipate more quickly.
If you don’t mind a scent, however, you can find a variety of options, like citrus, pine, rosemary, and almond.
Floor cleaners come, for the most part, in one of two types. There are complete cleaners that can be applied straight to the floor from the bottle. They’re usually in a spray bottle, and are a great option for spot cleaning. The other type is a concentrate formula that is a strong cleaning fluid you must dilute with water.
“When it comes to using concentrated cleaners it is about quality, not quantity,” says Cohoon. “Concentrated cleaners use a more concentrated chemical compound and the user dilutes it with water so instead of using a capful of a certain cleaner you may only need a small spoonful.”
While they take a little more time, it’s worth it for the cost savings as a little bit goes a long way. Plus, you can adjust the strength for dirtier jobs.
How you get your cleaner on the floor is an important consideration as well, and most cleaners are available in spray or squirt bottles. The majority of complete cleaners (the non-concentrate kind) are found in spray bottles, which makes them easy to apply directly to floors. Concentrates are usually in squirt or pour bottles, so they can be poured into a bucket and diluted.
Your Questions, Answered
What is the best way to clean and shine hardwood floors?
One of the most important things to remember is you’re going to avoid scratches and dings on your floor by vacuuming or sweeping first, says Cohoon.
“Make sure to vacuum or sweep away any debris so as to not nick or scratch floors,” Cohoon says. “Using a wood-specific liquid soap and warm water—or mix one part white vinegar with ten parts warm water —and a soft cloth, dip the cloth into the bucket and wring until damp.”
The other key is to refresh your cleaning solution so you’re not pushing around grimey water.
“Wipe down [the] floor surface without oversaturating the surface and be sure to refill your cleaning solution often as to not clean with dirty water,” Cohoon says. “Use a soft towel to dry the floor thoroughly as oversaturation or standing water can damage floor finishes.”
Is it OK to mop hardwood floors?
Yes, mopping is ok so long as you make sure the mop is not overly wet and using too much moisture on hardwood can damage and/or warp floors over time. Be mindful of how much oil or soap you use when cleaning and polishing hardwood, as excess residue can make surfaces slippery and damage finishes.
What should you not put on a hardwood floor?
Whatever you do, don’t clean hardwood like you would the rest of your floors.
“Most of your favorite cleaning supplies you should not put on hardwood floors. This includes white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda—also anything like oils, waxes, furniture cleaner, or anything with ammonia,” says Samson.
Cohoon echoes this, and reminds to avoid bleach, saying, “To preserve the finish of the floor be sure to avoid bleach and any cleaning agents with bleach or brighteners. Be sure to also avoid abrasive cleaners and chemicals such as ammonia as its harshness will damage wood floors.”
Who We Are
Tanya Edwards is an award-winning writer and editor with bylines at Better Homes & Gardens and other publications. She never met a hardwood floor she didn’t see more life in with a little bit of oil soap, and for this story she consulted cleaning experts Jessica Samsom, director of national branding at The Maids, and Kathy Cohoon, an area representative of Two Maids & A Mop, for additional advice on choosing the right hardwood food cleaners.