The 5 Best Cleaners For Hardwood Floors

by Marshall Bright
Africa Studio/Fotolia

Wood floors, unlike carpet and rugs, often require little day-to-day cleaning beyond a simple sweep. But occasionally, deeper cleans are called for. The best cleaners for hardwood floors not only keep things sparkling, they extend the life of your floors. But you can’t just keep mopping from the kitchen or other tiled rooms to get the job done. Many regular floor cleaners contain ingredients like ammonia or abrasives that can harm wood. Surface cleaners, even ones designed for wood, sometimes aren’t optimized for floors either. (Trust me: In college, my roommates and I once made the mistake of spraying wood cleaner for tables and counters on the floor. Since it wasn’t designed to be walked on, it dried shiny and slippery.)

The best wood cleaners, however, don’t require special equipment or even spending a ton of money. A good cleaner and your favorite mop (and sometimes bucket) is usually all you need. If you’re using a bucket, be sure to ring the mop out so it’s damp, not dripping. Work in sections and, if it still looks wet when you’re done, dry it with a clean towel.

Just one quick note that most cleaners are not appropriate for unfinished floors or floors sealed with wax. Most hardwood floors installed or renovated in recent years are sealed with polyurethane, and you likely already know if you have waxed floors, but if you live in an older home and aren’t sure, there’s a very easy test you can do to check.

Whichever method you choose or your needs, there’s a wood floor cleaner that will give you the sparkling results of your dreams. None of these picks are concentrates, so you don’t have to worry about diluting or measuring before jumping right in.


The Overall Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Bona cleaner is regularly recommended by the professionals for a good reason: The company started out supplying floor cleaners to the pros in 1919. This refill container is meant for their own spray bottles and mops, but can be used with your own spray bottles or mops for hardwood floors. However you choose to use it, no diluting is necessary. Simply spray over small areas of the floor, mop using a microfiber mop or damp sponge mop, and move on to the next area. Bona’s cleaner effectively cuts through grime and residue while leaving the floor with a pleasant shine. It’s also Greenguard certified, meaning it has low chemical emissions and is safe for kids and pets.


The Best For High-Traffic Areas

Black Diamond's spray bottle means you can spray and scrub wherever it's needed, which is helpful in high-traffic areas where spills and messes might happen more frequently. No rinsing or drying is necessary, just use a mop (or rag) and go. Another reason Black Diamond is particularly well-suited to dirtier floors is because it includes an ingredients developed to prevent dust and soil from attaching to the floor after being cleaned, meaning your floors get a streak-free shine and stay cleaner longer. Safe for children and pets, it is also biodegradable. However, because it's a spray, it might not be the best choice for very large areas.


The Most Convenient Hardwood Floor Cleaner

For quick jobs or people who want to clean their wood floors more than once a week, it's hard to beat the convenience of Swiffer. Regular Swiffer WetJet isn't optimized for hardwood floors, however, so this one with pads and cleaner developed for hardwood is best. The disposable cleaning pads are also softer than traditional Swiffer pads and gentler on wood floors. A spray nozzle on the head of the mop distributes cleaning fluid evenly and the pads wipe up dust, dirt, and spills. While it won't be ideal for dirty jobs like dried, sticky spills, it's great for daily or weekly passes. The quick-dry solution doesn’t require towel drying or rinsing either. While there has been a rumor that Swiffer cleaners are not safe for pets, Swiffer and even the ASPCA have debunked this. A representative from the company also says it's safe to use around children.


The Best All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner

While Bona is Greenguard certified, some shoppers might want something even more natural. Method's cleaner is biodegradable and never tested on animals, and comes from a certified B corporation with naturally derived ingredients. Plus, it's easy to use. Simply squirt directly onto floors, no spray bottle or mop with spray bottle needed and no rinsing required. Wipe up with your favorite sponge or microfiber mop. Method's floor cleaners are also some of the best-smelling. In addition to almond, you can choose from ginger yuzu, spearmint sage, and lemon ginger. All Method products are safe for pets, children, and pregnant women.


The Best For Spot Cleaning

Another Bona favorite from the pros, this spray bottle means you can easily spray directly messes or smaller jobs as needed. More gentle (but still effective) than their professional formula, it works similarly: Spray onto the floor and wipe up with a towel or mop. Per Bona’s website, it can even be used on wax floors. Like Bona's professional line, it has low emissions, is biodegradable, and safe for pets and children. Because it comes in a spray bottle, however, some might find it tiresome to have to spray the floor as they clean so it might not be the best choice for large areas.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.