We updated this article in August 2022 to ensure all picks tested and vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab were available, in stock and correctly priced.
Wood floors may look fragile and hard to care for, but nothing could be further from the truth. A well-maintained one can pretty much withstand the abuse of pets, kids, spills and tracked-in dirt. In fact, hardwood floors are pretty easy to clean. Regular vacuuming is the best thing you can do because it removes the fine, gritty, abrasive dust that can scratch the finish. Next, use products that both clean and protect the finish so it continues to resist wear and tear. Choosing the right product to suit your needs can help get the job done faster and easier.
That’s where the Good Housekeeping Institute‘s Cleaning Lab comes in: We test hundreds of soaps, sprays and stain removers every year to find the best cleaning products, including wood floor cleaners. When we test these cleaners, we evaluate how well they remove a sticky, dried-on gelatin mixture we precisely paint onto hardwood planks, how quickly and completely they remove scuff marks, ease of application and drying time. We’ve found that the best cleaners are those specifically formulated for use on hard, surface-finished or polyurethane-treated floors. These cleaners have ingredients to dissolve dirt and grime without damaging the coating or dulling the shine.
Our top picks:
Note: none of the cleaners we list here are recommended for floors treated with wax or other penetrating finishes. Read more about our top picks for the best wood floor cleaners, plus two vacuum cleaners specifically designed for cleaning wood floors:
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Best Overall Wood Floor Cleaner
Hardwood Floor Cleaner Spray
Best Value Wood Floor Cleaner
Oil Soap Original Wood Cleaner
Best Microfiber Mop with Cleaner for Wood Floors
Hardwood Floor Premium Spray Mop
Best Wood and Laminate Floor Cleaner
Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner
Best Disposable Mop with Cleaner for Wood Floors
WetJet Wood Starter Kit
Best Concentrated Wood Floor Cleaner
Hardwood Concentrated Floor Cleaner
Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner for Deep Cleaning
PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner Spray
Best Stick Vacuum Cleaner for Wood Floors
Omni-Glide Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Best Vacuum Cleaner for Wood Floors
Compact C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum
How we test wood floor cleaners
In the Good Housekeeping Cleaning Lab we’re continuously testing floor cleaning essentials like vacuum cleaners, mops, robot vacuums and steam mops. During our experts’ initial test, we tested twenty-four wood floor cleaners exactly the same way, cleaning 216 stains and scuff marks from wood flooring panels. We tested how well each product cleaned after an equal amount of passes and how many passes had to be made with each product to completely remove scuff marks and stains. In addition to performance tests, we also analyzed ease of application. All product labels were reviewed for proper safety and precautionary notices. Since then, we have continued to test new wood floor cleaning products as they become available, updating this story with the latest and greatest wood floor cleaners.
The two vacuum cleaners on this list are models we tested or from brands that we’ve tested before and performed well in our ongoing tests, which we test on different flooring panels using our custom-built, automated machine.
What to look for when shopping for the best wood floor cleaner
✔️ Product Type: Hardwood floor cleaners come in various different forms like sprays, creams, concentrated liquids and spray mops, not to mention all the different kinds of vacuums to choose from for picking up dust and debris, like canister vacuums, stick vacuums and robot vacuums to name a few. During our tests in the Cleaning Lab, our experts found that all of the wood floor cleaners we tested were able to remove at least some stains and scuffs regardless of how they are dispensed. For the easiest products to use, spray bottles and spray mops are the best choice because they can be sprayed directly on hardwood floors and require no diluting, plus they topped our tests in performance and ease of use.
✔️ Additional Uses: Some wood floor cleaners also double as wood furniture cleaners, like best value pick, Murphy Oil Soap, making it perfect for homes with lots of wood furniture and hardwood floors. You’ll likely clean most (or all) of your home’s rooms with these hardwood floor cleaners, so choosing a product with a fragrance you enjoy enough to smell all throughout your home is also something to look out for.
What is the best thing to use to clean and care for hardwood floors?
The best way to give your wood floors some TLC is to leave your shoes at the door, vacuum regularly to remove abrasive dirt and dust (with a straight suction vacuum or with the rotating brush turned off to prevent scratching), clean up spills promptly and keep your pets’ nails trimmed.
When it’s time to clean your floors, use a light application of one of our recommended products and work in small three-foot square sections to avoid over-wetting the floor. Make sure the area you’ve just cleaned dries promptly before moving on to the next section, as too much moisture sitting on wood for too long can be damaging. For quick touch-ups, clean in the direction of the wood planks. For deeper cleaning, clean both with and across the planks to nab dirt trapped in the crevices. Only damp-clean floors when they need it, depending on how much traffic they get. There’s no need to over-wash them; in fact, doing so can do more harm than good.
What should you not use on a wood floor?
You may have read that wood floors should only be cleaned with vinegar — we don’t recommend it. Vinegar cleans on the surface, but it’s acidic and can dull the finish over time. Steam mops should also never be used on hardwood floors, even sealed ones. Excessive water and humidity cause water to penetrate the finish of the wood and warp hardwood flooring. Solid wood flooring is more easily affected by factors like humidity, water and extreme temperature changes. Abrasive cleaners, waxes, oils, furniture sprays and products containing ammonia should also be avoided to prevent damage to the seal of hardwood floors.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Carolyn Forte, the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Care and Cleaning Lab Executive Director, has a B.A. in Family & Consumer Sciences from Queens College, City University of New York, and is a consumer products expert. She has been testing, speaking and writing about appliances, textiles, cleaning products and more at Good Housekeeping for more than 40 years.
Jodhaira Rodriguez joined the Good Housekeeping Institute in 2021. She tests and writes about home appliances, cleaning products and tips on cleaning. She holds a B.S. in forensic science from Hofstra University and previously worked in an environmental lab where she sharpened the analytical skills she applies in her testing of vacuums, dishwashers, detergents and more.
Carolyn Forté Home Care & Cleaning Lab Executive Director Consumer product expert Carolyn Forté is the Executive Director of the Home Care & Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she oversees all testing, research and editorial production involving cleaning appliances and products, like vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and more.