How To Remove Haze from Hardwood Floors

Cloudy, whitish, dull, hazy hardwood floors can be restored by cleaning the surface with mineral spirits, vinegar, olive oil fused mayonnaise, ammonia solution, or generally refinishing and polishing the surface of the hardwood floor once again.

The major causes of the cloudy-whitish haze film are, using the wrong hardwood floor cleaners, wax build-up, trapped moisture underneath (on the subfloor), cleaner residues build-up, and incorrect application of finish.

All these factors are, however, preventable. The proper cleaning substances and tools should be used. Hardwood floors should always be cleaned with soft microfiber mops because they are non-abrasive and absorb as much moisture as possible.

Why are My Hardwood floors Whitish, Hazy?

The good thing with hazy hardwood floors is they are easy to identify. The common causes of the whitish residue are:

  • Use of the wrong (improper) hardwood cleaning products
  • Wax Build-up, especially after refinishing hardwood floors
  • Floor cleaner residue
  • Trapped moisture underneath
  • Incorrect application of floor finish

Use of the Wrong (improper) Hardwood Cleaning Products

This is the most common haze on hardwood floors in many households. With the market flocked with a wide variety of cleaners, it is very easy to purchase a substandard cleaner. Having a good knowledge of the product, you will use on your floor is good.

Any cleaner infused with wax, wood and furniture polish, or oil soaps will leave a residue and should be avoided.

Hardwood floors have a polyurethane seal that reacts with oil-based cleaners producing a hazy, dull look.

Always read the instructions and the components of the cleaner before purchasing them. Sometimes a cleaner may be so much advertised on social media or cheaper than your usual cleaner, but that does not mean it is a good cleaner.

Wax Build-up

When hardwood floors have been used for a long time, like any other floor, they get damaged. They might get discolored, scratched, or generally just look old. With this, there might be a need to restore the floor finish through waxing.

Using too much wax when refinishing the floor will produce a cloudy residue when the floors are cleaned.

How To Properly Wax Hardwood Floors

Lightly moisten a soft, lint-free cotton cloth to prevent it from taking in more wax than required. Dip the moist cloth into the wax and apply it to the floor lightly and evenly.

As it dries, cloudy streaks might start appearing on the floor.  Using a clean, dry towel or an electric polisher, Buff to shine until the hazy look disappears. The buffing process, especially with an electric polisher, provides a protective layer against moisture and dirt.

At this point, if you want, you might decide to polish the surface of the waxed and buffed floor surface.

How to Polish Hardwood Floors

Spread an even and consistent layer of polish across the floor and, using the electric polish machine (preferably), gently run it through the areas with polish until it disappears.  

A soft cloth can be used for application as well. Apply the polish in an S direction or directly to the cloth, then keep wiping in semicircles overlapping the previous section until the entire floor is done.

Apply fragile layers, like about 2-3 instead of one big layer of polish, and let it dry for about 24 hours before resuming heavy foot traffic.

Floor Cleaner Residue

When too much cleaning product is used and not thoroughly rinsed, it leaves streaks on the floor. Also, some of these products contain water and are the most prone to leaving behind the milky whitish residue.

With time, this residue builds up and becomes nearly impenetrable. It is therefore recommended to use a small amount of cleaning product and, if possible, not use the cleaning products daily.

Knowing and using the best hardwood floor cleaners is important to avoid this residue.

Trapped Moisture Underneath

In areas where the underlying subfloor is seeping water up to the top of the hardwood flooring, the whitish residue is visible as the floor swells and bulges. Before installing Hardwood floors, especially on concrete subfloors, you should ensure that it is properly sealed or that the right underlayment materials are used.

Apart from the attack from water through the rising dump, when cleaning the floor, you should ensure that all the excess water is completely wiped off the floor, and the mop used should only be moist and not wet.

Too much water will be trapped in the spaces between the planks, and the floor will become hazy with time.

Incorrect Application of Floor Finish

Floor finishes, as discussed above, should be applied in very thin layers and allowed to dry before applying the next layer completely. However, if this is not done, applying another layer of finish before the initial one dries creates a dull look because of the trapped solvent vapors.

Also, bubbles are trapped underneath if the finish is not properly and evenly spread throughout the floor, forming a cloudy film.

Hardwood floors with scuff marks and scratches should be fixed before applying finishes.

How To Remove Haze From Hardwood Floors

As annoying as Haze appears on Hardwood floors, the good thing is that it can be removed and the floors completely restored. In most cases, just using the proper cleaners and in the right proportions will work.

How To Remove Haze From Hardwood Floors

However, in cases where the situation might be a little resilient, the following methods can be used to remove Haze from Hardwood Floors:

  • Using the Right Hardwood floor cleaners
  • Using Mineral Spirits
  • Using Vinegar
  • Using a Steam Cleaner
  • Using Ammonia
  • Removing the existing finish

Using The Right Hardwood Floor Cleaners

Be keen not to use cleaners that are too soapy or wax infused. If possible, consult the manufacturers or the suppliers for the recommended cleaners you may use on your hardwood floors.

In most cases, cleaners that are used or good for laminate floors will also work very well with Hardwood floors because their components are almost identical.

Using The Right Hardwood Floor Cleaners

To test whether the cleaner you’re using is good, spray it on a mirror or window glass; if streaks are left behind, that cleaner will leave Haze on your Hardwood floors.

Using Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits will work best in such a case where the haze is caused by wax build-up. It effectively dissolves wax without removing the finish on Hardwood Flooring.

Soak a soft microfiber cloth in minerals spirits and rub the affected area until the cloudy residue disappears. You can also spray on the affected area and let it sit for a minute, then wipe it off once it has completely dissolved.

Using Vinegar

Vinegar is readily available in most households, so this method should be one of the easiest one and of most popular methods used.

Mix white vinegar with warm water in ratios of 1:2, respectively, and dampen a soft cloth. Make sure the cloth is completely wrung off the excess solution.

Wipe the affected areas and repeat the procedure until the haze disappears. Hardwood floors are highly affected by moisture, so it is important to ensure no excess solution is used. Also, excess vinegar water solution may make your floor even duller than it was before.

Using a Steam Cleaner

Steam cleaning does a perfect job in removing Haze off your Hardwood floors; however, a steam cleaner should not be left running for a long time over such floors to avoid moisture damage.

A steam cleaner does not only remove haze but also sanitizes your floor, leaving it free of germs. This method should be done by taking high precautions, especially on unsealed hardwood floors.

Using Ammonia

Like Vinegar, Ammonia should be used in small and diluted quantities when used on hardwood floors. This is because it might wear out the finish of the floor.

Thoroughly mix ammonia with warm water and dampen a soft cloth with the solution, not so wet, only moist. Rub the Hazy areas in circular motions until it disappears.

Ensure the room is well ventilated when working with ammonia, and avoid combining the solution with chlorine; it forms toxic fumes.

Removing the existing Finish

This method is most suitable in cases where the floor damage is so bad that the above methods do not work. In cases where water damage is too extreme just to be wiped off with homemade solutions.

Sand or buff the floor, if possible, the entire room so that the final finish will be even, and apply a new hardwood floor polish and restorer.

How to Prevent Haze on Hardwood Floors

It is better to properly care for your hardwood floors rather than go through the processes above to restore them. Some ways to keep haze off your hardwood floors are:

  • Using the right hardwood floor cleaners and as directed by the manufacturers.
  • Placing a door mat to ensure the shoes are clean before entering the house.
  • Keeping hardwood floors dry and cleaning with soft microfiber mops.
  • Using the approved finishing and polishing products on hardwood floors

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