You should never use ammonia-based Windex on hardwood floors. Doing so will cause the finish to strip off and can ultimately warp the wood or leave a sticky mess. Using an ammonia-based cleaner on hardwood floors may also void any warranties you have from the manufacturer.
This harsh chemical cleaner is also dangerous to be used around pets and can harm humans if used improperly – so read through the problems below thoroughly to get a better understanding of why we recommend against using Windex on hardwood flooring.
Why Windex Can Cause Damage Hardwood Floors
There is nothing quite as beautiful as hardwood flooring. It adds value to your home and is actually fairly easy to clean and maintain. But, it is important that you use the right cleaning products.
Usually, cleaning a hardwood floor only takes using a vacuum with the right wood floor-friendly attachments, dusting, sweeping, or dry mopping on a regular basis. That’s all there is to it. There is no need to use harsh chemicals like those found in Windex.
If the wood becomes stained, never use harsh chemicals like ammonia, which is high in acidic pH, and alcohol. Both ingredients are listed as the active ingredients in the original ammonia-based Windex.
Never clean hardwood using Windex that contains ammonia. The acidic pH in ammonia will ruin the sheen of the wood, making it appear dull. It can also cause discoloration on the surface.
It will ultimately cause your hardwood floors to lose their shine. The floors will become darker. Overall, the hardwood floors will start to look old before their time.
Some opt to dilute the Windex, but this does not solve the problem. Using water on hardwood floors can ruin them as the wood absorbs the moisture and begins to warp. If you dilute the Windex with water, you not only have the issues that come with the harsh chemicals, but you also now have potential water problems when the wood floor soaks up the wetness.
Problems Windex Can Cause to Hardwood Floors
Some of the problems that can happen due to using Windex on hardwood floors include:
- For the floors – Windex damages hardwood floors because of the active ingredients of ammonia and alcohol. Ammonia acts as a wax stripper agent and is even sometimes used carefully to remove acrylic waxes on hardwood floors.
- For humans – Windex can be ingested in the body through the skin or when inhaled. Harmful effects include a severe cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat, or other respiratory issues. Contact with the skin may lead to redness, rash, or a burning sensation. If Windex gets in your eyes, it can cause blurred vision or burns. It can also cause abdominal cramping or vomiting if you happen to ingest it.
- For pets – If you use Windex around pets, it can be ingested in the body.
If even just one of these problems occurs, it can cause a lot of problems in terms of the cost to repair and maintenance as well as the danger it poses to human health or pets.
What Can Windex Actually Be Used For
Even though Ammonia-based Windex is not a good solution for daily or regular cleaning hardwood floors, it is actually useful to use around the home to clean glass, windows, chrome sink fixtures, or stainless steel components.
Windex also makes a vinegar-based solution as well as an ammonia-free glass and window cleaner. Their ammonia-free product is called Crystal Rain cleaner and is suitable to use for a variety of cleaning purposes. An upside to the ammonia-free version is that it comes in a recycled plastic container which makes it completely environmentally friendly.
Some claim that Windex can be used to purposefully strip waxy buildup from a cloudy hardwood floor caused by wax and polish leftover as an attempt to repair scratches or extend the floor’s life.
When you see that white film on top of the surface, or the floor looks cloudy or hazy, you know that there is moisture trapped or that the floor cleaner or wax has built up. These protective layers of film accumulate over time. Of course, the best method to restore floors that have waxy buildup is to sand them and refinish the area or the entire floor.
Stripping Waxy Buildup
Despite the warnings against it, some still choose to use Windex to strip the waxy buildup and claim that it works for this purpose so long as you use extreme caution.
To use Windex to strip waxy buildup, mix it with water to form a solution that can be used with a mop. Be very careful whenever using water on a hardwood floor, since it can penetrate through the seams where the wood will absorb it. Once the floor absorbs the water, it will be prone to warping.
Alternatively, use Windex as a stripper without mixing it with water. Spray it directly onto a microfiber mop, and wipe off the residue. Be careful not to spray too much Windex onto the floor directly.
If the microfiber is not tackling the sticky residue buildup, try a sponge. Scrub the residue with the sponge sprayed with Windex in small sections of no more than 2 square feet, 50 centimeters.
Use a damp mop to clear away the residue, and dry the floor using a dry towel.
Always test a small section of the floor before restoring the original wood’s glory with a product of choice. You could also use a hot cloth with a small amount of warm water if the buildup is not too overwhelming.
Some prefer to steam clean their floors to get out stubborn stains and disinfect germs. However, only use steam cleaning on a floor that has been fully sealed.
White vinegar is another non-toxic way to clean waxy buildup. But, use acidic products like vinegar sparingly. Like Windex with ammonia, vinegar is not usually recommended by floor manufacturers because of its acidic makeup.
If you use vinegar, add a few drops of essential oil like peppermint to freshen up the smell of the room.
Prevent Waxy Build-Up
The best way to tackle waxy build-up is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Prevent the waxy build-up to begin with by avoiding wax or oil soaps. Sticky polishes will cause debris to build up.
Some claim that the non-ammonia Windex makes a great hardwood floor cleaner to use once a month. Never be so ambitious as to “over clean” hardwood floors. Others think that even though it does not contain harsh chemicals, it’s still a water-based cleaner that can harm the floors.
If you use the Windex Ammonia-Free cleaner be sure to first vacuum the entire floor, and attach dry pads to your mop. Do not mix it with water, but spray it directly onto the floor or Swiffer style mop head. Clean carefully and quickly going spot to spot or one room at a time.
Be sure to always mop or wipe in the direction of the wood grain. When you are done cleaning, make sure the floor is allowed to completely dry.
Regular cleaning and maintenance properly will help you keep your hardwood floors looking beautiful for years. However, using the wrong cleaner like ammonia-based Windex can create a host of expensive or even dangerous problems.
Always use the most appropriate cleaning products on your hardwood floors. The best cleaner should be gentle on the floor and not strip the seal. It should also be safe to use around children and pets.