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Product Review: Cleaning with Murphy's Oil Soap

Learn the negative effects of cleaning your floor with Murphy's Oil Soap.

Oil soap is a commonly used, widely available wood floor cleaner. The most favored brand of oil soap is Murphy's Oil Soap and it is owned by Colgate-Palmolive. With a big advertising budget, Colgate-Palmolive is working very hard to make Murphy's Oil Soap a trusted household name. Besides, it has been around for a long time and is as widely used as Windex. In case you aren't that familiar with the product line, the most popular wood floor cleaning products are the Murphy Oil Soap Original Formula and the Murphy Oil Soap Squirt & Mop.

Oil soap, like Murphy's, is vegetable oil-based. Perhaps because oil soap is marketed as biodegradable, it is enough to make people think that it is a wholesome cleaning product. Especially with all of the toxic cleaning solutions available, many people are turning to natural alternatives. This is just one of the reasons that Murphy's Oil Soap is in high demand. Regardless of the reasons that consumers choose oil soap to clean wood floors, it actually doesn't have positive features.

Oil soap is actually harmful to your wood floors. Many floor manufacturers explicitly state that oil soap should not be used to clean wood floors. For example, the Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood Floors Certified 50 Year Warranty expressly 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." When you apply oil soap, you are leaving a residue on your wood floors. This residue will turn into streak marks. You are putting vegetable oil soap on your wood floors and leaving it on. All of your wood surfaces will have an oil soap coating on them. This makes the finish on your floors look dull.

When you use Murphy's Oil Soap, you will quickly learn that the advertising claims are fictitious. Obviously, this is not an advisable cleaning method. This is not even cleaning. It is just coating your floors with an oily, sticky residue! If you decide to clean your floors with oil soap, you will notice that in as few as five years, your floors will need to be recoated. The oily residue left behind from oil soap will remain so much so that it may very likely gum up the screening disk when you recoat your floor in the future. Also, the new coating may have adhesion problems. Many homeowners have permanently ruined hardwood floors from using oil soap products.

Despite its popularity, I would not use it on my own wood floors nor would I recommend it. I am talking about sealed hardwood floors. Even though Muphy's Oil Soap is formulated for sealed hardwood floors, you want to stay far away from it! As you now know, Murphy's Oil Soap makes many misleading and false claims that sound convincing to anyone who has not done adequate research. For example, it promises to leave no residue behind. It is also supposed to remove wax build-up.

If you decide to give Murphy's Oil Soap a try, the next step will be learning how to remove it! An effective technique to remove the oily residue is with vinegar or glass cleaners. Murphy's Oil Soap can penetrate into the surface of the wood. When it is time to get your hardwood floors refinished, they will have to be sanded down past the oil build-up in order for the new finish to adhere. Murphy's Oil Soap can react with the finish softening it and making it dull. This is obviously irreversible.

If you are smart, please do not listen to the seemingly compelling advertisements about Murphy's Oil Soap. Using oil soap can be as serious as loosing your wood floor warranty!