Why Do My Hardwood Floors Look Cloudy?

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hardwood floors look cloudy

Hardwood floors are relatively easy to care for. That doesn’t mean they’re entirely without issue, though.

One common problem is cloudy-looking floors. You know, floors that look kind of dull and like they have a white or light gray haze over top of them.

If you’re wondering, “why do my hardwood floors look cloudy,” here’s everything you need to know and how to fix them.

The Main Reason Your Hardwood Floors Look Cloudy

The leading cause of cloudy hardwood floors is cleaner build-up. This happens when you use the wrong type of cleaner, and instead of removing dirt, the cleaner sits on your floor, building up with each use. You can avoid this by not using any oil or soap-based cleaners.

How to Fix Cloudy Hardwood Floors

The most common cause of cloudy floors is product build-up. This means, to remove the haze, you need to remove the build-up. You can do this by using a slightly acidic cleaner like vinegar and water.

Start by mixing a solution of 50/50 white distilled vinegar and water. Mop your floors with this solution and then dry them with a microfiber cloth, switching out the rag when it becomes too dirty or wet.

The vinegar will help break down the build-up, and the microfiber cloth will remove it.

Another solid choice for removing haze build-up is using a steam cleaner. It’s important, though, that you choose a steam cleaner that’s appropriate for hardwood floors. 

How to Avoid Cloudy Hardwood Floors

To avoid hazy hardwood floors, you need to check with your floor’s manufacturer for the recommended cleaning agent. 

Some of the most common culprits of cloudy or hazy wood floors include:

  • Using oil or soap-based cleaners.
  • Putting wax on polyurethane-coated floors.
  • Not properly cleaning your mop.
  • Excess moisture on the floors.

You can completely prevent the cloudy haze from reoccurring by using cleaners specifically formulated for wood floors. Also, make sure that your mop pad is completely clean before each mopping. (We prefer microfiber mops for hardwood floors.)

Frequently Asked Questions

faq hardwood floors look cloudy

What’s the best mopping solution for hardwood floors?

Honestly, the best hardwood floor cleaner is the one recommended by your flooring manufacturer. You’ll want to avoid cleansers that are soap or oil-based since they can cause a build-up on your floors. 

If you’re looking for a homemade mopping solution, try a 50/50 white distilled vinegar and water mixture.

Why can I see footprints on my hardwood floors?

If you see footprints in your hardwoods, you’ve probably gone overboard with oil-based products. These products can build up on the floor when overused. Try mopping your floor with a vinegar solution and wiping with a microfiber cloth to remove some of the oil buildup.

How can I get my floors to shine without wax?

If you don’t want to wax your floors, you can still get them to shine by giving them a proper cleaning. First, thoroughly sweep. Next, mop your floors and then buff dry with a microfiber cloth. If that doesn’t leave your floors shiny, you can combine equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil and rub a thin layer across your floor.


If you’re wondering, “why are my hardwood floors hazy” the answer is most likely cleaner build-up. And luckily, this is a straightforward problem to deal with. All you need to do is mop your floors with water and vinegar and wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.

To prevent the cloudy build-up from returning, only clean your floors with a cleaner formulated for hardwoods.

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Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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