Can You Use Windex on Wood? Read This Before Trying It!

A man spraying a bottle of cleaning solution against a dark-brown background.

Windex has always been treated as an all-in-one cleaner. It can shine glass surfaces; soften built-up grease on fans, range hoods, and light fixtures; banish laundry strains; and even make your jewelry sparkle. 

So what about wooden countertops, furniture, and floors?

Can you use Windex on wood? Unfortunately, Windex and wood don’t work well together. Windex contains ammonia, which can damage, stain, and deteriorate wooden finishes. The moisture content of Windex can cause warping and discoloration. Ammonia-free Windex is a slightly better option, but it can damage wood as well.

In this article, we shed light on what happens when you use Windex on wood. We’ve also listed several alternative products that you can use in its place. 

Let’s dive right in! 

Windex and Wood – What to Know

Windex is a streak-free glass cleaner known for its signature blue color, ammonia-like scent, and easy-to-use design.

Simply mist the surface, let it stand for two minutes, and wipe clean with a cloth or paper towel. 

For many, Windex is the best solution for cleaning and disinfecting the house, but Windex isn’t a miracle cleaner—not when it comes to wooden surfaces, at least. 

Using ammonia to clean wooden surfaces—whether it be wooden floors or wooden tables—will almost certainly take off years of its life.

Windex contains approximately 5 to 10% ammonia, which can deteriorate, discolor, and dull the finish of the wood. 

Does Windex Damage Wood?

Since Windex contains ammonia, it can damage certain wood finishes.

If it gets below the finish, it’ll cause unsightly discoloration and stains that are nearly impossible to get off, even with professional refinishing. 

Furthermore, wood, especially porous wood, is quite sensitive to moisture. Spraying Windex on it can cause it to expand and deform.  

Will Windex Strip Wood?

The answer to this question depends on the wood’s finish. 

Windex won’t strip the finish off of astringent or waterproofed wooden surfaces, such as those that have been treated with polyurethane varnish or hard glaze clear varnish, if used once in a while. 

However, it’ll almost certainly strip the finish of shellac wood finishes, penetrating finishes, and wood oils as the ammonia can dissolve and break down the polish. 

Will Windex Stain Wood?

Yes, Windex can stain wood. Ammonia reacts strongly with tannin, a natural chemical that protects trees from being infected by fungi or bacteria, causing the wood to darken. 

It’s actually used to purposely stain wood in a controlled environment to create a dye in the wood itself. 

So when the ammonia in Windex comes in contact with wood, it’ll lightly discolor it. If the ammonia was left on the wood for a long time (i.e., 10+ minutes), it can cause a permanent color change. 

Does Windex Leave Residue?

Windex doesn’t leave residue on both glass and surfaces, but some commercial glass cleaners do.

These cleaners contain wax, which can leave a streaky residue that takes several wipes to remove. 

Is Windex Multi-Surface Safe for Wood?

Windex Multi-Surface is the ammonia-free version of regular Windex. It replaces ammonia with everyone’s favorite universal cleaning liquid: vinegar.

It can be used as a tile cleaner, a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen cleaner, and more.

Vinegar doesn’t damage or warp wood finishes as other products do, but it can still blemish wooden surfaces and make them look all dull and dingy due to its acidic nature.

So although it’s safer than regular Windex, it’s still not the best option to use on wooden surfaces. 

Even the official Windex page says it’s “not recommended for use on finished wood.” 

Is Windex Vinegar Safe for Wood?

Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner is much like Windex Multi-Surface Cleaner, except it contains a higher concentration of vinegar. 

It’s safe to use on all glass surfaces, but it’s not recommended on wooden surfaces as it may damage the finish. 

You can use it to remove greasy or filmy residues left by oil-based cleaners and waxes once every so often, but never use it regularly. 

Is Ammonia-Free Windex Safe for Wood?

Ammonia-free Windex, like the Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner and the Windex Multi-Surface Cleaner, is generally less damaging to wood than the ammonia alternative. 

You can use it to clean wood occasionally, but you should never do so regularly as it can still blemish and damage the wood when used long term. 

Can You Use Windex on Hardwood Floors?

No, Windex shouldn’t be used on hardwood floors. If you must, use Ammonia-Free Windex, but even then it’s not recommended.

Stick to a commercial wood-cleaning product like Murphy, Orange, or Howard to increase the life and shine of your hardwood floors. 

A woman using a pink rag to clean a wood table.

3 Best Wood Cleaners for Wooden Surfaces and Floors

Windex is a glass cleaner, not a wood cleaner. If you use it on wood surfaces, it can greatly damage the finish. So put the Windex away, and try these wooden cleaners instead: 

1. Murphy Wood Cleaner

Murphy 70481465315 OIL SOAP Wood Cleaner,...
  • MURPHY OIL SOAP: Economical, natural cleaner ideal for mopping wood floors, paneling and other large...
  • FLOOR CLEANER: 128 fluid ounce (1 gallon) container of MURPHY OIL SOAP, concentrated multi-use wood...

Murphy Wood Cleaner is an all-natural multi-use wood cleaner that cleans and polishes wood surfaces.

It can also be used to clean non-wood surfaces such as ceramic tiles, leather, painted surfaces, and even vinyl. 

This cleaner is mostly made from plant-derived ingredients like coconut and vegetable oil. It doesn’t contain ammonia or bleach, so it’s perfectly safe to use on wood. 

To use, mix between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the cleaner to a single gallon of warm water, depending on how much cleaning the surface needs. No rinsing is required after application. 

2. Orange Glo 2-in-1

Orange Glo 640823841079 (Pack of 3) Wood Furniture...
  • ORANGE GLO 11995 Cleaner and Polish, 16 oz Bottle, Liquid, Orange
  • Remove dirt, grease and wax build-up to reveal your wood's natural radiance

Orange Glo 2-in-1 Wood Cleaner is one of the best products for removing grease, dirt, and wax buildup on wooden surfaces. 

Upon use, it instantly adds shine and vibrancy to the wood and leaves a nice scent after. 

Use it just as you would with Windex; spray the product onto the surface, leave for about one to two minutes, and wipe. 

3. Howard Clean-a-Finish

Howard CF0016 Clean-A-Finish Wood Soap, 16-Ounce
  • Quickly removes dust, dirt, grime, and other stains from finished and unfinished wood, carpet,...
  • Great for deep cleaning neglected pieces of furniture that have years of buildup and stains

The Howard Clean-a-Finish, AKA “the soap that gives dirt a lift,” is a wood cleaner that removes stains, dust, grime, and dirt from not only finished and unfinished wood but also fabric, upholstery, and painted surfaces. 

It’s great for cleaning super-dirty surfaces that have been abandoned for years, like antiques and the insides of cabinets.

Spray a bit of the Clean-a-Finish onto the dirty surface, leave it for a couple of minutes, and wipe clean with a rag. Repeat for extra shine. 

How To Clean Wood Furniture With Vinegar

Vinegar isn’t the best product to use when cleaning wooden surfaces, but it does a decent job if you don’t have any other cleaner at hand. 

Here’s how to clean wood with vinegar without damaging the wood:

  1. Mix 1/2 glass of vinegar with 1/2 glass of olive oil or vegetable oil. 
  2. Dampen a soft cotton cloth with the vinegar-oil mixture and clean the surface in circular motions, much like you’d do when polishing wood. 
  3. Leave the surface to dry for at least one hour before wiping the product clean with a clean towel. 

Related Questions:

Can You Use Windex on Granite?

You can use Windex on granite but not too often. 

Granite countertops and floors have a sealant that keeps them all nice and shiny as well as stain resistant. 

Windex will not only weaken the sealant but also make it look dull. 

If you want to use Windex on granite surfaces, use the Windex Multi-Surface Disinfectant Cleaner as it doesn’t contain ammonia.

Is Windex Safe for Countertops?

Ammonia-free Windex is perfectly safe for countertops made of marble, quartz, granite, tile, and laminate. Avoid regular Windex as it may strip off the sealant when used long term. 

Final Thoughts

Windex shouldn’t be used to clean and/or polish wood because it contains ammonia. Ammonia, even in small amounts, can damage, stain, and weaken the shine of wooden surfaces. 

Ammonia-free Windex can be used as an alternative every so often, but it’s still not recommended. 

To increase the life of your wooden countertops, furniture, and floors, use a dedicated wood cleaner like Murphy, Orange, and Howard.  

Sources: 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/05704929708003319

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethnobotany/tannins.shtml

https://bioresources.cnr.ncsu.edu/resources/wood-color-changes-by-ammonia-fuming/

Last update on 2022-07-06 at 07:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Rich

Rich

I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!