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How to Remove Haze from Hardwood Floors (Get Rid of the Cloudy Look)

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If your home or apartment has wooden or engineered hardwood floors, you've probably come across the annoying haze that can build-up over time. But how do you remove the haze from hardwood floors? This article covers the common reasons wood floors develop a cloudy haze, and we'll provide you with two low-cost ways to get the white film off your hardwood floors.

Identifying the underlining cause can help you take simple steps to prevent a hazy build-up from developing in the first place. Removing the cloudy film build-up and preventing future haze will keep your hardwood floors looking shiny and new.

Freshly refinished hardwood floor

How to Remove Haze from Engineered Hardwood Floors

Whether you have wood or engineered hardwood floors, the method is the same when it comes to removing the haze. This is because the haze is coming from the finish on the wood, not the wood itself.

The most common reason hardwood floors develop a cloudy look is due to cleaner build-up. How to get build-up off hardwood floors requires dissolving and stripping the cloudy haze layer, and then properly cleaning your floors to bring the shine back.

There are a couple of different methods you can use to dissolve the hazy layer.

Sand and Refinish

The most aggressive approach is to strip the existing finish by sanding and refinishing the floor. If you have engineered hardwood floors, this probably isn't your best choice. In most cases, engineered floors can only be sanded and refinished a couple of times before damaging the boards.

Whether you have wood or engineered hardwood, it's usually better to use this method as a last resort as it can be expensive, time consuming and messy. We recommend hiring a flooring professional if your wood floors requires refinishing.

Ammonia Solution

Another popular method to remove the haze from your hardwood floors is to use an ammonia solution. Simply mix 1 cup of ammonia per gallon of water and use a sponge mop to apply to your floor. 

Although this solution will dissolve the build-up on your floors, you need to be very careful not to use too much water to prevent damaging your floors.

Pro Tip: When cleaning your hardwood floors, you are actually cleaning the finish on the surface of your wood, not the wood itself. Using the ammonia or vinegar solutions for regular cleaning of your floors will break down the finish and cause them to lose their shine.

However, when your wood floor finish is cloudy or hazy, you want to break down the hazy finish. After your floors have thoroughly dried, you can always apply a polish if necessary.

Vinegar Solution

Since most kitchens have vinegar in their cupboard, this method is very popular. Be sure to use white vinegar and warm water. 

  • Mix a couple of capfuls of white vinegar for every gallon of warm water 
  • Then saturate a sponge mop with the solution. (Fully ring out excess solution from the mop)
  • Mop the floor in the direction of the boards
  • Rinse and wring your mop frequently

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5 Common Reasons Hardwood Floors Look Hazy

There's a number of reasons why hardwood floors develop a hazy appearance. If you're able to identify the root problem, you'll be able to take the appropriate steps to prevent the problem from continuing. Here are the most common reasons:

Cleaning Agents

Let's face it, there's a lot of wood cleaning products on the market today. Just as there has been advancements in flooring, the cleaning agents have improved as well. The true is, products you swore by years ago are simply not as effective on today's modern wood floors.

In addition, using products not designed for wood floors such as paste wax, oil soaps, or furniture polish should never be used. They'll leave your floor with a hazy and sticky build-up, which at best will require a deep cleaning to remove.

Always use a quality cleaning product designed for cleaning wood floors. We recommend using Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner, but there are many other reputable brands you can try.

Wax Build-up

Many of today's floors don't require waxing. If your wood floor has a polyurethane finish, then applying wax will cause the finish to develop a cloudy appearance.

Cleaner Build-up

When it comes to cleaning hardwood floors, the old saying of Less is More applies. Even if you clean your hardwoods with the right cleaner they can develop a hazy build-up if too much cleaner is used.

Bona sells a Hardwood Floor Care Kit which comes with a microfiber mop, cleaner and polish. Just apply a small amount of the cleaner with the microfiber mop and you won't need to worry about hazy floors.


Although water is necessary to properly clean your floors, it's important to use as little water as possible, as water can damage your floors and leave them looking hazy at best.

Using a microfiber mop is recommended over sponge or string mops because the microfiber material does a better job of absorbing water.

If you notice cloudy spots on your hardwood floors, it's likely that water was splashed onto the floor and not wiped dry. The vinegar or ammonia solution listed above should do the trick.

Finish Incorrectly Applied

If your floor's finish was not properly applied, a hazy appearance can develop. This is almost always seen on wood floors and not engineered wood.

The stain may not have been allowed to fully dry before another coat was applied, and the hazy look is due to vapors being trapped below the finish. Hiring a floor care professional to refinish your floors is probably your best option if you suspect this is your problem. 

Cleaning Hardwood Floor with Dust Mop

How to Prevent Haze on Hardwood Floors 

Proper care will not only keep your hardwood floors looking their best, but also extend their life. These tips will help you prevent your hardwood floors from developing a cloudy, hazy appearance:

  • Keep a welcome mat outside your exterior doors. This will allow you and your guests to wipe their feet and not drag in dirt and debris
  • Consider placing another mat near the interior doorway so you can wipe your feet again. This is especially helpful if your entryway has hardwood floors
  • Regular cleaning with a soft broom or dust mop will help keep your floors from accumulating dust and debris
  • Use only wood-safe floor cleaners and polishes, and follow the manufacturers directions
  • When applying cleaning solution to the floor, use a fine spray mist. This helps discourage you from over saturating the floor
  • When using cleaning solutions, use a microfiber mop as it does a better job of absorbing liquids

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