Properly maintaining your hardwood floors helps them look great and last longer, and it can also buy you time between routine maintenance projects like refinishing. Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training, and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), says that successful maintenance is easily attainable. Sweep or use a dry, soft microfiber dust mop on a daily basis, vacuum (on the bare floor setting, if possible) once a week, and use a professional-quality floor cleaner monthly. “But be sure to use the right cleaning solution, and avoid over-wetting or leaving behind a residue on the floor,” Miller adds.
We researched and tested dozens of hardwood floor cleaners in The Lab, judging them on ease of use, effectiveness, and ingredients. Our top pick is the Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner, because it’s easy to use, it performs, and it's made with a plant-based formula.
Here are the best hardwood floor cleaners.
Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner
Plant-derived cleaning agents
No rinsing required
Cleans basic dirt and grime
Easy to use too much
Cap tends to leak
No spray applicator
The formula is plant-based and doesn't require any dilution. Simply squirt and mop for clean floors without all of the elbow grease that other products require. Thanks to its essential oils, it doesn’t leave a strong scent behind. Instead, you’ll be left with a soft, clean citrus scent that our tester said reminded her of a day at the spa. She was also impressed with how quickly the cleaner dried and left a finish ready to be walked on: “Within minutes of cleaning one portion of the floor, the surface was dry as we began cleaning another. It left a smooth finish without any tackiness, too, which was a pleasant surprise."
Price at time of publishing: $15
Type: Liquid | Dimensions: 8.75 x 3.45 x 3.45 inches | Weight: 4 pounds | Amount: 32 fluid ounces | Scent: Citrus mint
Murphy Oil Soap Concentrated Wood Cleaner
Easy to use
No rinsing required
Scent may be too strong for some
When a cleaner has been on the market for over 100 years, you know it’s a good one. Tack on a budget-friendly price, and it’s sure to become one of your go-to products. Murphy Oil Soap is beloved for its price point and its cleaning prowess. The solution is suitable for everyday cleaning, but it can also tackle built-up grime for a deeper clean.
You do have to dilute the concentrate, but it’s simple: Just mix it with water, and follow the package instructions. Then, mop the floor with the solution—no need to rinse it. You’ll leave behind squeaky clean hardwood floors with an impressive look. As a bonus, the recognizable citronella—while too pungent for some—lends a fresh scent that lingers, making your house smell just as clean as it looks. For maximum mileage, you can also use the classic cleaner to refresh tile, linoleum, vinyl, and other flooring materials.
Price at time of publishing: $12
Type: Liquid | Dimensions: 10.69 x 7.13 x 5.13 inches | Weight: 7.1 pounds | Amount: 32 fluid ounces | Scent: Citronella
Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner Spray
EPA Safer Choice product
Doesn’t leave behind any residue
Works on glazed or unglazed floors
Spray isn’t always consistent
Keep sealed hardwood floors in tip-top shape with this pH-balanced cleaner from Bona. Since the formula is water-based, it’s also safe for other types of flooring like porcelain and laminate. But don’t be fooled: It’s just as powerful as concentrates. In fact, with this product in hand, you should only need to do a weekly (or even bi-weekly) clean to keep your floors spotless.
Spritz and wipe, then watch as the fast-drying formula effortlessly eliminates dirt, dust, and stuck-on grime. Despite the shine, the product won’t leave floors slippery, and it doesn’t leave behind any residue that can leave floors tacky or looking cloudy and dull. The cleaner is also an EPA Safer Choice product, meaning that it meets certain requirements for being people- and planet-friendly.
Our product tester said that Bona not only cleaned her floors but also improved them: “We were also happy to notice some minor scuffs and surface scratches in our aged hardwoods were less noticeable after cleaning with Bona."
Price at time of publishing: $9
Type: Liquid spray | Dimensions: 50 x 115 x 30 inches | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Amount: 32 fluid ounces | Scent: Unscented
Method Squirt + Mop Wood Floor Cleaner
Plant-based and biodegradable
No rinsing required
Squirt bottle is hard to regulate
Method Squirt + Mop Wood Floor Cleaner stands out for its formula. It’s entirely plant-based and biodegradable, and it's wax-free, so it won’t coat floors in a substance that might make it look cleaner in the short run but actually dull and even damage floors over time. Instead, it cleans with a blend of water, coconut oil, organic solvents, and baking soda. There’s no dilution required, saving precious time. Just squirt it onto your hardwood floors, and mop away to reveal clean, deodorized, shiny planks. There’s no rinsing required. One thing to keep in mind: While it's convenient, the squirt functionality can release unpredictable amounts of cleaner, so you’ll want to go slowly until you get the hang of it.
Once it's dry, you’re not just left with cleaner floors. The sweet almond scent is another huge draw to this cruelty-free cleaner. It’s pleasant enough to notice, but soft enough not to overpower, and it’s a welcome departure from the typical citrus scent you typically find in floor cleaners.
Price at time of publishing: $15
Type: Liquid | Dimensions: 10.25 x 4.36 x 4.36 inches | Weight: 3.04 pounds | Amount: 68 fluid ounces | Scent: Unscented
ZEP Commercial Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner
A little goes a long way
Works with spray mops
Not ideal in homes with kids or pets
When your whole house has wall-to-wall wood hardwood flooring, you’ll need to stock plenty of cleaner to keep those surfaces clean. A commercial solution, like this one from Zep, is an excellent option. The heavy-duty formula is made for high-traffic industrial spaces, but it works exceptionally well in homes, too. (You'll want to use caution if considering the product for a home with kids and pets, since it’s not quite as gentle as other options.)
If it’s right for you, the professional-grade cleaner will tackle everything from spots and scuffs to set-in stains in a flash. You can use it on hardwood or laminate flooring. Just spray it on (a little goes a long way, so be conservative), mop, and stand back to admire your clean floors in all of their glory. The light citrus scent is a nice touch, too.
Price at time of publishing: $17
Type: Liquid | Dimensions: 12.1 x 6 x 6 inches | Weight: 8.6 pounds | Amount: 128 fluid ounces | Scent: Citrus
Shark VacMop Pro Cordless Hard Floor Vacuum Mop
Very quiet operation
Short battery life
Need to buy replacement pads
Experts recommend both vacuuming (to get the crumbs up) and mopping (to really get that deep clean), but you don’t have to stock two tools to get the job done. The Shark VACMOP is a vacuum and spray mop combo that uses powerful suction to pull dirt and debris into its disposable pad. Once it vacuums all the loose debris in its path, you can use the spray cleaning solution from the on-board container to mop on the shine. Our testers say it's just as easy as it sounds. The tool is lightweight and maneuvers well in tight areas (like under a bar cart). It even has a light on the head so you can see those typically dark, hard-to-reach spots, which is great for making sure you get the whole mess up!
A cordless construction allows you to venture wherever you need to, even in a large room. No need to worry about the battery life, either. After an overnight charge, our tester found it strong enough to complete several small tasks or one big deep clean of a townhouse. Do note, though, that you’ll need to purchase refill pads to continue using the VACMOP.
Price at time of publishing: $100
Type: Mop and vacuum combo | Dimensions: 47.87 x 9.5 x 5.3 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Capacity: 0.1 quarts | Power source: Cordless electric
Shark Vertex Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum with DuoClean PowerFins
Folds in half for easy storage
Self-propelling motor head
Long battery life
Smaller dust bin
The Shark IZ462H Vertex DuoClean received a near-perfect score across our testing categories for its performance on hardwood flooring, carpet, and more. This vacuum's motor head is equipped with a long-bristled front brush that easily sweeps up debris in its 10.5-inch cleaning path. A second rubber roller also ensures any remaining debris is picked up behind the bristles. Our tester said this vacuum required minimal effort to push and pull across flooring because it automatically leads you across the surface.
This vacuum also has an impressive hour-long battery life, which can clean your whole home—or the majority of it—before needing to refresh the battery. An LED light on the floor head allows you to see your cleaning path and illuminates any hidden debris. This vacuum also folds in half for easy storage, if you're cramped for closet space, or looking to optimize storage possibilities. Our testers pointed out this vacuum is slightly top-heavy, which makes it tricky to prop up between tasks. However, its quiet, powerful suction makes it a winner in our testing lab, especially when considering its lightweight design.
Price at time of publish: $299
Type: Vacuum | Dimensions: 46.5 x 9.6 x 10.25 inches | Weight: 9 pounds | Capacity: 1.4 quarts | Power source: Cordless electric
Ecovacs Deebot T10 Plus Robotic Vacuum and Mop
Mop feature worked well
Long initial charge
App could be more user-friendly
Mopping yields gorgeous hardwood floors, but all of that wringing and drying makes it a huge chore, and you don't want to over-wet your floors. Fortunately, the ECOVACS DEEBOT T10+ Robot Vacuum and Mop exists to make the task as breezy as can be. And though our tests show that most robot mops tend to make a bigger mess rather than effectively clean, this hybrid model was an exception. The DEEBOT T10+ cleaned up all of the spills we tested it on, leaving only a little bit of residue behind on its side brushes.
It’s a quality vacuum, too. The DEEBOT carefully maps its route and then shuffles along your floor while doing the hard work for you. During tests, it was very quiet when operating on hardwood—a great bonus if you have kids who nap or pets who spook easily. What’s more, it navigated around furniture very well, so you don’t have to worry about accidental dings and scratches.
The price is high, yes, but it’s easy to use, easy to empty, and overall very effective on both settings. You can even add scented pods. So, if you don’t have the time or the energy to carefully clean and maintain your hardwood floors, this is an excellent autonomous option.
Price at time of publishing: $650
Type: Vacuum and mop combo | Dimensions: 18.9 x 17 x 16.2 inches | Weight: 31.5 pounds | Capacity: Not listed | Power source: Cordless electric
Our top pick for a hardwood floor cleaner is the Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner. Its versatile, plant-based formula works across a variety of sealed floor types. Plus, it's easy to use (there's no rinsing required), and it comes in recyclable packaging. If you're looking to spend less, Murphy Oil Soap is a great value. It’s a hardworking formula, and a little bit goes a long way.
What to Look for in a Hardwood Floor Cleaner
Before purchasing a cleaner, consider how each product is used. For hardwood floors, you can use a variety of products, including mops, vacuums, and liquids. Mops and vacuums help you get debris off of the floor, while liquid cleaners remove any fine specks of dust and restore shine. You’ll likely need more than one type of floor cleaner, such as a vacuum cleaner that works well on hardwood floors, as well as a quality mop and liquid cleaner.
Some liquids require dilution. Some require rinsing. If convenience is particularly important to you, consider the cleaner’s application method prior to purchasing. Floor-cleaning concentrate (usually sold in a 1-gallon container) may be economical, but you'll need to use a bucket or a separate container to mix the formula with water. You’ll also need to buy a mop to apply the cleaner to the floor. There are many squirt-and-clean options available that don’t need to be rinsed or diluted, such as the Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner, which is our top pick. Some will also need a mop or additional supplies, like cleaning cloths, to wipe the solution from your floors.
If you opt for a vacuum or a robot mop, like the ECOVACS DEEBOT T10+ Robot Vacuum and Mop, you won’t need to buy additional supplies, but you’ll likely sacrifice cost for convenience.
Though ingredients impact a cleaner’s effectiveness, they also contribute to a product's safety and floor compatibility. For example, you should not use products with bleach on hardwood floors. Instead, Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training, and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), says it’s important to use a pH-balanced cleaner. What’s more, homes with young children or pets may prioritize EPA Safer Choice products like Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Some floor cleaners are also formulated with heavy fragrances to add a freshly cleaned scent. If you're sensitive to strong smells, consider an unscented floor cleaner or one made from natural fragrances, like essential oils.
What is the best way to clean and shine hardwood floors?
To keep wood floors in tip-top shape, use a dry, soft microfiber (or similar) dust mop on wood floors on a daily basis, and supplement with a vacuum on the bare floor setting once a week, or as necessary, says Miller. You don’t need much product—you can get away with using a wood floor cleaner about once per month.
“Shine is not something you should try to achieve with any wood floor cleaning product, as products that claim to add shine may be damaging to the floor’s finish,” Miller explains. “If a homeowner thinks their floors have started to look a little dull, they can instead be renewed through a simple maintenance coat—something the NWFA recommends doing every three to five years.”
What should you not put on a hardwood floor?
Though it may seem counterintuitive, avoid products that promise to polish, restore luster, or add shine, says Miller. These solutions leave behind a temporary, non-protective, shiny film that can interfere with any future coats of professional wood floor finish. Keep in mind that wood and water don’t mix. You should never use straight water on wood floors. Applying high volumes of water in any form—liquid or vapor (like from a steam cleaner)—to a wood floor can cause permanent damage to the wood and the finish.
Can you use a steam cleaner on hardwood floors?
Most steam cleaners state that they are safe for sealed hardwood flooring, but Miller cautions against using this type of floor-cleaning device. “Never use a steam mop on any real wood floor,” he says. “Steam is the vapor form of water, which means it can travel deeper and faster into and between the cracks and cells of the wood itself. This can permanently damage the wood and the floor’s finish.”
How often should you clean your hardwood floors?
Routine maintenance for wood flooring is fairly simple. According to Miller, you should sweep with a broom or microfiber mop daily to prevent debris from scratching the floors, use a vacuum (on the bare floor setting) once a week or as necessary, and clean monthly with a professional wood floor-cleaning product.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, a freelance writer and editor with nearly 15 years of experience. She has written extensively about cleaning products, including floor cleaners, for various publications. Her home is almost exclusively hardwood, and she has personally tested a whole host of the cleaning products featured on this list. To curate, she leaned on her own experience, reviewed bestseller lists, read hundreds of product reviews, and spoke to Alicia Johnson, a cleaning expert and owner of Cleaning Green LLC. Additional insight was provided by Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training, and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).
Emma Phelps, a writer for The Spruce, also contributed to this article by incorporating insights from testing in The Lab.
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Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure that we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all of these products ourselves, though occasionally we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut. We also pride ourselves on transparency and will always let you know if we received a product for free.