Top 10 things NOT to clean your hardwood floors with

Picture of Joshua Crossman

Joshua Crossman

Owner of PTL Flooring LLC

A popular question we get after we finish a floor is “What should I clean the floor with?”  For most finishes we recommend to dust mop first then use a microfiber mop such as one from Glitsa combined with a basic hardwood floor cleaner such as Glitsa Clean.  But the market is flooded with floor cleaning products and sometimes its hard to know which ones work well and which ones have the potential to ruin your floor.  I made a list of the most popular products your shouldn’t use on your floors that I have come against.

There are many products out there that you probably shouldn’t use on your hardwood floors and I can’t list them all so as a general rule of thumb you want to avoid any products that talk about “polish, shine, refresh, restore” and any other keywords such as those.  You just want a cleaner, one that doesn’t leave a residue on your floor.  Most products that use phrases like “polish” or “refresh” actually leave a very thin layer of acrylic finish on your floor which over a short time can look horrible.

On to the list: (keep in mind the following products have a place but for the most part it is not to regularly clean your floors with)

  1. Bona Polish. This product is the number one ruiner of floors that we come across. Bona Polish is NOT a hardwood floor cleaner.  It is a cheap thin finish that you apply to your floors.  Over time and repeated use the film gets thicker and it scuffs and scratches easily making the floors look unsightly. The only remedy to restore your floors is to strip the Bona Polish off.  Since this product is so widespread, chemical engineers have developed a special stripper that will remove the Polish without harming the finish coating underneath.  We have the knowledge and tooling to do this process.  And depending upon the condition of the floor we can simply apply a fresh coat of high quality floor finish that will restore your floors to their former glory.
  2. Steam Mop. Water is wood’s worst enemy, more floors have been ruined with water than anything else. So injecting extremely hot water into a hardwood floor is a bad idea. It prematurely wears the finish and will break down the wood fibers. We can tell when a floor has been maintained with a steam mop as the finish usually starts to break down earlier than expected and the edges of the boards start to turn dark color.
  3. Mop & Glo.  Similar to the Bona Polish, it leaves a film over the floor that has to be constantly maintained.
  4. Orange Glo. Same reasons as why not to use Mop & Glo.
  5. Pledge. Not only does this product puts a film on the floor it also makes the floor very slippery.
  6. Pine Sol. Again leaves a residue on the floor that can build up over time and be harder to remove.
  7. Dishsoap.  Potential to leave a film on the finish. (Please note that not only does these products that leave a film on the floor that will look unsightly after a few uses it could also containment the floor and you will have issues with the next application of finish.
  8. Vinegar.  All though vinegar does not leave a residue vinegar is very acidic and todays modern designed hardwood floor finishes can’t stand up to repeated exposures of vinegar applications and thus premature wearing of the finish coating could occur.
  9. Murphy Oil Soap. this is another product that leaves a residue behind that could cause failure of a finish coat application.
  10. Sponge mop. Do not use sponge mops or string mops to clean your floors with.  These types of mop products deposit too much water on the floor which could cause the floor to buckle or water stain with repeated use.

To source our recommended products visit our Order Cleaner page.

If you have used the wrong products to maintain your hardwood floors don’t feel ashamed because you are not alone.  We save many floors yearly that have been ruined by the wrong application of a product.  Send us an email at if you need your floors restored to their former glory.

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