The best hardwood floor cleaner

Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto

Always immediately clean standing water, wayward ice cubes, and sticky messes from your hardwood floors.

Hardwood floors increase your home's value and make your home look rich and beautiful -- that is, if they're clean and maintained. Scratched, gritty, dirty, or streaky hardwood floors age a home. But with all the hardwood floor cleaners on the market, it's easy to keep a shine underfoot.

When choosing an appropriate hardwood floor cleaner, it helps to know your floor's finish. Our shopping guide helps you figure that out, plus we offer our recommendations at the end of this article, including our favorite, Method Squirt + Mop Hardwood Floor Cleaner. We like it for its delicious scent and easy-to-use formula.

Considerations when choosing hardwood floor cleaners

Floor finish

Knowing your finish helps you choose the right cleaner to keep your floors from looking dull. You can choose a surface seal or a penetrating seal. Surface seals are water- and stain-resistant polyurethane, polyacrylic, or urethane. Lacquer and shellac are surface finishes that don't necessarily protect the wood. To make sure it's a surface finish, see if you can scrape and peel off a tiny piece. Penetrating finishes harden and protect wood with an oil or wax base that penetrates the wood grain. You may also have an unfinished wood without any seal.

To figure out your finish, look to see if your floor is glossy. If so, it likely has a surface seal. If it's not glossy, rub your hand on your floor. If the floor feels oily or waxy, you likely have a penetrating finish. Read a product's label to determine which floor finish it's meant to clean.

Cleaner vs. polish

Cleaning your hardwood floors is one thing but polishing them is different. Whether or not to polish also depends on your finish. Cleaning and then using a polish on a protective surface sealed floor makes them shine. Penetrating finishes and unsealed wood won't benefit from polishing products -- they require waxing.



When pouring cleaning product onto a large swatch of flooring, it inevitably spreads into the hardwood's nooks and crannies. As a result, the cleaner's fragrance may linger in the room for a while after using it. If you have a sensitivity to smells, you might opt for a fragrance-free cleaner or one with a natural, woodsy fragrance. As is the case with any type of cleaner, many hardwood floor cleaners could have a slight, albeit temporary, chemical smell.

Spray vs. pourable

Choosing a spray or pourable cleaner is a matter of preference. However, there's a benefit to a spray cleaner. You can pinpoint the area you need to cover with a fine mist of cleaner, but you may have to spray a couple of times to get enough cleaner out of the bottle to do the job. With a pourable cleaner, you have plenty of cleaner to work with on the first try, but it may spread quickly over the area. Pourable cleaner is helpful if you have a large area to clean.

Hardwood floor cleaner prices

The price of hardwood floor cleaners depends on the size of the bottle you purchase. You can find 22- to 27-ounce bottles of cleaner ranging from $5 to $6.25. For a 32- to 36-ounce bottle, you pay between $8 to $15. Value packs of two small bottles, large gallon jugs, or kits of cleaner and polish cost between $16 and $30.


Q. How do I eliminate water stains on my wood floor?

A. You probably don't notice that leaks have snuck up on your hardwood floors until you move potted plants or furniture around so you can vacuum. Liquid may have already soaked into the wood, but there's a possible fix. First, sand the surface with extra-fine sandpaper. Add a cleaner for oiled floors to the area where you sanded. The oil cleaner should even out the color. To avoid future water spots, put plant pots on saucers and check for leaks from hidden sources.

Q. How do I get cat urine out of hardwood flooring?

A. Cat urine odor is tough to remove from hardwood flooring -- catching it quickly is half the battle. Blot the fresh pool of urine with paper towels and dry completely. Either spray hardwood cleaner (not polish) on the area or dip a sponge into a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water, then clean the area. Dry completely, this time buffing the wood with a clean, dry cloth. Repeat a couple of times if necessary.

Hardwood floor cleaners we recommend

Best of the best: Method Squirt + Mop Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Our take: Requires no rinsing and has a fresh nutty scent that lingers.

What we like: The spray nozzle keeps you from wasting cleaner fluid. It cleans residue-free and leaves a sparkling shine that brings dull floors back to life.

What we dislike: Some users think the almond-like scent is too strong.

Best bang for your buck: Bona Hardwood Floor Spray

Our take: Safe for all unwaxed or finished wood floors for those who prefer an elegant matte finish.

What we like: Water-based formula, residue-free, low VOC emissions, and dries fast.

What we dislike: Some users report cloudiness on the floor when cleaned.

Choice 3: Weiman Wood Floor Polish and Restorer

Our take: Best for high-traffic finished hardwood flooring because it fills in inevitable scratches.

What we like: As the polish fills in scuffs and scratches, it forms a protective scratch-resistant layer and results in a sparkling shine. No sticky residue.

What we dislike: Floors are required to be grit-free before use. Should be used in conjunction with Weiman Hardwood Floor Cleaner.

Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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