Can I use Murphy’s Oil Soap on my Hardwood Floors?

It’s not a good idea to use oil or wax based products on a hardwood floor. Such products have a high potential of ruining the finish of your wood.

They can react with the polyurethane seal, completely destroying it, or create an unsightly, sticky, oily residue that can make your floor cloudy or slippery.

The oil can also penetrate the finish to reach the wood and that will make it difficult to re-coat your surface in future.

The new finish will not adhere easily and you may be required to sand into the wood or replace it.

When you expose wooden flooring to wax- or oil-based soap, you are likely to see some anomalous effects such as footprints, a dull finish, streaks, or a sticky residue.

After some time of use, a buildup of oil may also form a slippery layer that is dangerous for people and pets. PS. If you need help with cleaning up dog urine from your hard wood floors, we recommend specific cleaners for that here.

If the oil reacts with the polyurethane, your floor will become vulnerable to water.

Most wood floor manufacturers highly discourage the use of oil soap on your floor. The warranty becomes null and void when you go against the warning.

That means that you are fully responsible for any damage caused without any blame to the manufactures.

For example, Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood Floors warranty states, “Do not wash or wet mop the floor with soap, water, oil-soap detergent, or any other liquid cleaning material.

This could cause swelling, warping, delamination, and joint-line separation, and void the warranty.”

Is Murphy Oil Soap really bad for hardwood floors?

Murphy Oil Soap is one commonly used household cleaner that has drawn mixed reactions when used on hardwood.

While some people are against the use on hardwood floors, its manufacturers and some customers insist that it is safe on hardwood floors and ideal for cleaning.

Product Review

Murphy’s Oil Soap

Murphy's Oil Soap

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This product, made and marketed by Colgate-Palmolive, is a potassium vegetable based oil with no phosphates and claims to be biodegradable.

The formula contains naturally-derived ingredients and does not contain harsh detergents such as ammonia or bleach.

It is available in a concentrated liquid sate that can then be mixed with water and pre-diluted in a trigger spray bottle.

According to the manufacturer, here is how to use Murphy Oil Soap for cleaning a Hardwood Floor:

  1. Pour ¼ cup of oil soap into a bucket and add a gallon of warm water
  2. Stir the content to mix
  3. Dip a mop into the solution and wring out excess solution.
  4. Start mopping across the floor as you make a few strokes before dipping the mop back into the solution.
  5. If you are using the ready-diluted solution, simply squirt the solution on a section of the floor and follow up with a wet mop.

While using Murphy Oil Soap, it is not necessary you rinse it. The solution is formulated to be used and be left to dry on your floor.

What Can You Use Murphy Oil Soap for?

Murphy Oil Soap is commonly used to clean and polish wood furniture, as well as horse accessories such as bridles and saddles.

Artists also use a diluted oil soap to clean brushes after removing excess paint. Gardeners use it as an insecticidal soap spray when in concentrations of 2-4%.

It is also commonly used for cleaning black powder weapons after use.

Makers of the product state that the formula is also ideal for cleaning finished wood surfaces such as wood floors, tables and chairs, laminate floors, cabinets, wood paneling, and book cases.

For non-wood surfaces it can be used on cars, vinyl, ceramic tiles, laundry stains, and paint.

Does Murphy Oil Soap Leave a Residue on Hardwood Floor?

When you use a cleaner, you expect a satisfying outcome. But sometimes you may be surprised to see a sticky or dull surface.

The cloudy floor appearance could be a sign that your floor finish is reacting with the ingredients in the product and can cause permanent damage. It could also mean that you have used a soap oil continuously for some time and a sticky layer is forming.

Many people have complained about streaked and dull surfaces after using Murphy Oil Soap.

However, there are a few questions you will have to ask. Did you follow the instructions correctly before using? Is it the first time? What did you use before?

There is a high chance of a residue forming when you use an oil soap on a wooden floor, which is why the majority of flooring companies are against the practice.

This can happen as well with Murphy Oil Soap, especially if used incorrectly, the product has expired, or when it reacts with the polyurethane finish. The oil could also lift out the previous product you have been using and you could get a dull floor.

If your hardwood floor looks awful after using this product, immediately discontinue using it, remove the soap, and rinse and completely dry your floor.

Change to another cleaner such as Bona. If you continue with the same product, the oil soap will penetrate the finish and reach the underlying wood.

How Do You Remove Murphy’s Oil Soap from Hardwood Floors?

After using Murphy Oil Soap on your hardwood floor and notice a residue or dull appearance, consider removing it.

This will prevent further damage to your wood finish. Vinegar or ammonia-free glass cleaners such as Windex are commonly used to remove an oil soap from hardwood floors.

Here is a simple guide:

  1. Spray a small section of about 2-3 feet square with Ammonia Free-Windex.
  2. Let it stay for 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Using a sponge, scrub the area to remove the residue.
  4. Use a clean, damp towel to wipe the area immediately so that the residue does not dry.
  5. Repeat the process until all the residue is completely removed from the entire floor.
  6. Now, mop your floor using a good cleaner and completely dry it.

Note: Windex is an ammonia-based glass cleaner that should not be used to clean a hardwood floor. It strips the finish, and dries and warps your wood.

Tips for protecting your hardwood floor

A hardwood floor is precious and you always need to protect it so that it can remain beautiful and last long.

Some tips to achieve that goal:

  • Do not allow any amount of water to stand on the surface.
  • Clean regularly to avoid dirt and spot buildup.
  • Always use highly recommended cleaners that cannot damage the finish or wood.
  • Use ideal cleaning machines when you want to deep clean.
  • Avoid scratching your floor with your shoes or furniture.
  • Safety is important — use non-toxic products and always keep them away from pets and children.


Do not be in a hurry to use any product on your beautiful hardwood floor.

Dig deep to find out more about the product.

There are many cleaners on the market, and not all of them are good on your floor.

Murphy Oil Soap may give mixed results, so test it on a small hidden section of your floor before using it.

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