The Only Cleaner I’ll Use on My Refinished Hardwood Floors

updated Jun 6, 2019
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Finding original hardwoods under layers of old tile is one of the best surprises you can get during a renovation (one of the only good kind of surprises!). When we re-did our kitchen last fall, my husband and I were thrilled to discover heart pine below the ’80s faux terra-cotta ceramic (and some other time capsule layers) and promptly texted the company that restored the floors in our third-floor Airbnb to switch gears from the tile we’d picked out. Nothing could compare to these gorgeous floor planks that had been hiding for more than 130 years.

With this sudden good fortune of basically brand-new hardwood floors, I wanted to pamper them. The rest of the hardwood floor in the 1887 house is pretty battered from decades of varying degrees of care, so honestly I didn’t give a ton of thought to what I used to clean it. We’d just grab whatever was at hand, rotating between Swiffer pads, an O-Cedar spray mop, or old school bucket/string mop with assorted natural cleaners I chose more for their smell than cleaning ability.

But what do the pros use? As I hung out watching the magic of the hidden floors become the star of the new kitchen, I asked the refinishers what they recommended. The answer was quick and unequivocal … and nothing I’d ever heard of. They only use and recommend something called LOBA Floor Cleaner Concentrate. These guys, who restore floors for a living and work on new/old floors like mine every day, swore by this stuff. It’s made by a German company that’s been around for close to a hundred years, and they specialize in taking care of hardwood floors.

That sounded great and all. But this stuff was $33 for a 32-ounce bottle on Amazon. Yeesh! And there were no reviews.

Credit: Dana McMahan

I decided to live dangerously, though, and ordered a bottle. And with the first use I saw why these pros had been so enamored of this cleaner. Our floors throughout the house had endured a months-long renovation, even as hard as we’d tried to keep the unaffected rooms clean. The super-duper concentrated cleaner (it’s a 1:50 ratio with water) basically erased the grime. But not only that! It actually made the floors feel clean. You know how sometimes floors will feel tacky or like there’s still some kind of coating on them? This seemed to lift any of that away, so all you feel is clean, smooth wood.

Of course to get to that point the floors have to be cleaned of all the debris of daily living. We have two dogs, so we run a Neato Botvac daily (sometimes twice daily) and some days we just run a quick spray mop over the floors (if anything at all). But once a week, we do a proper mop — with a bucket and string mop, and a squirt of the Loba cleaner in the bucket, and I tell you the floors just gleam. I like to walk around barefoot, the better to enjoy them (while they last; see two dogs, above!).

I bought the bottle at the end of August and it’s still probably half full so I’d say it’s a good investment. But I knew it was really legit when a professional cleaner came to scrub our Airbnb and ended up taking a picture of the bottle because she loved it so much, she wanted one for herself.

The Bestselling Hardwood Floor Cleaners on Amazon

Credit: Amazon

This is the single bestselling hardwood floor cleaner on Amazon and, with the Swiffer name behind it, it makes sense. It works with the Swiffer Wet Mop and basically takes out any of the guesswork. Just spay and mop.

Credit: Amazon

2. Bona Cleaner, $26 for three 32-ounce spray bottles

An old favorite of Kitchn editors and other pros, the Bona formula is gentle and won’t damage the finish. Even when it’s used on older floors.

Credit: Amazon

3. Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner, $9 for three 40-ounce bottles

If you’re looking for something that can be used on floors, countertops, and other surfaces, consider this bestseller. It can be used directly on stains or diluted in water for more general cleaning.