5 Hardwood Floor Cleaning Products to Avoid, and What to Use Instead

5 Hardwood Floor Cleaning Products to Avoid, and What to Use Instead

Hardwood floors, if properly installed and maintained, can last for decades, and in some cases, even a lifetime. They can elevate any space, whether it’s a residential property, a vacation home, or a commercial space, and can add tremendous resale value. However, if hardwood is not properly cleaned, using the right products and tools, it can show signs of damage much sooner than expected, regardless of the quality of the wood. 

The most harmful cleaning products for hardwood floors

We always tell our clients that installation is just one of the factors that can impact the longevity and durability of hardwood floors. After that, it’s their responsibility to use the right methods and the right cleaning products to care for and maintain their hardwood floors. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of just how critical this factor is, and by using the wrong products, they end up damaging their hardwood flooring. Below are some commonly used products that can severely damage hardwood floors in the long run. 


Many homeowners out there think that household items are better for their hardwood floors, because they contain natural ingredients and fewer harsh chemicals. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and using household items to clean hardwood floors can do more damage than good. One of the most popular ingredients people use to clean their house is vinegar, and for certain tasks, it works like a charm. However, when it comes to hardwood, it’s incredibly damaging due to its high acidity – basically, it will wear away at the hardwood over time. Vinegar destroys the wood finish and causes damage to the wood beneath it, gradually. Homeowners often spot the damage when it’s already too late, as the wood can’t be repaired, it can only be sanded or replaced, depending on the level of damage. Avoid using vinegar or products that contain vinegar, even if it’s a small amount, because over time it can cause real damage. 


Another ingredient that we advise our clients to avoid at all costs is bleach, for reasons that are easy to understand. Bleach causes discoloration, and it can strip the color from hardwood floors very fast, leaving them discolored, faded, stained, and stripped of its natural properties. While bleach can be very useful for cleaning different household items, hardwood floors are a hard no, and you should stay away from bleach or any products containing bleach when it comes to hardwood flooring. 

Soap and water 

Many clients think that soap and water is a harmless, effective way of gently cleaning hardwood floors, however, that’s another mistake that we always tell them to avoid making. Firstly, hardwood is extremely susceptible to water damage, so you should always dry mop the floors or use specialized products that cater and protect hardwood. You should never wet mop hardwood floors, because water could infiltrate the planks and damage the wood from within, causing it to warp, expand, or even rot. Soap can also leave a greasy, film-like residue that can make the hardwood floors slippery and stripped of its finish and gloss. Not to mention that soap can also be harmful if you have pets or small children, even if it’s a natural soap made of good ingredients. 

Ammonia-based products

Ammonia is another ingredient that can cause serious damage to hardwood flooring, eating away at the layers gradually, until the surface of the wood becomes dull, discolored, more fragile, and noticeably thinner. This ingredient has a high pH level and can cause dullness and irreversible damage to hardwood planks, while leaving a residue that attracts dust and dirt to the wood surface. What’s more, ammonia can cause serious irritation to the respiratory system, so if a client has pets or small children, or is sensitive to irritants, then they should avoid ammonia at all costs in their household.

Glass cleaning products

Many people think that it’s safe to use products used for cleaning windows or furniture on their hardwood floors, but the truth is that cleaning products should be used specifically on the products and items they’re designed to clean. Glass cleaners like Windex should never be used on wood surfaces, and wood cleaners should not be used on glass. Window cleaners usually contain abrasive chemicals meant to clean away hard water residue, and these chemicals can strip away the natural color and protective finish of the hardwood floors. Glass cleaning products are specifically formulated to work on non-porous surfaces, so they should not be used on hardwood under any circumstances. 

Which are some of the best products to clean hardwood floors?

We’ve already established that household items like vinegar, ammonia, or soap can cause irreparable damage to hardwood floors, and they should be avoided at all costs. Instead, we recommend our clients that they only use products that are specifically designed to clean hardwood floors. These products will protect the color, the finish, and strength of the hardwood, keeping it in top shape for decades to come. 

Our favorites include the Bona Pro Series Hardwood Cleaner, which comes in a ready-to-use, refillable cartridge. Its professional oxygenated formula protects the hardwood, leaves no dulling residue, and is easy to use with the Bona Pro Series Hardwood Floor Mop. This quality mop has a comfort-grip handle and a machine-washable Bona Microfiber Cleaning Pad, which is gentle and soft to protect the hardwood from scratches. Another good option is the Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner, which dries fast, is residue-free, and safe for all unwaxed, unoiled, polyurethane-finished wood floors. It’s also water based and biodegradable and meets the U.S. EPA product standards, so it’s perfectly safe for humans, pets, and the environment. 

If you want to learn more about the products we carry or have inquiries about a specific order, don’t hesitate to contact First Atlanta Flooring. We’re here to answer any questions you might have, and we’re ready to help you provide the best possible services to your clients.