Cloudy hardwood floors are the last thing that any homeowner may want to see in their home. They'll raise questions about cleaning methods, floor maintenance, and even possible repairs.
Identifying the underlying cause of a cloudy look on hardwood floors is usually very important in as far as restoring its beauty and luster.
So, here's what you need to know about what could cause a cloudy look and how you can fix it.
Poor application of the finish:
If the finish coat was applied incorrectly, for example with air bubbles trapped beneath the finish or over a layer of spots or marks, there is a possibility that your floor will have a cloudy look.
Also, if you begin to use the floor before the finish coat is appropriately dry your wood floor may acquire this look.
Improper cleaning products
The use of improper cleaning products on wood floors is the most common reason behind the cloudy look.
This is because the market is saturated with tons of wood cleaning products, many of which actually have a damaging effect on wood floors. Because there are so many of these products, choosing the right product for wood floors can be a challenge.
Oil-based cleaning solutions, for example, can have a high chance of giving your floor a dull look.
Oil can react with a polyurethane seal and damage it while it penetrating the wood. This will make it difficult for future re-coats to adhere properly to the wood.
Try as much as possible to avoid products such as oil soaps, paste wax, and furniture polish because they usually leave a hazy, cloudy, sticky buildup on the floor.
You may also consult a professional wood worker for recommendations on the best cleaning products to use on your wood floor.
Sometimes, unnecessary waxing of the wood floors can create a cloudy look. For instance, floors that have a polyurethane finish do not need to be waxed.
In many cases of unnecessarily waxing a floor, the wax reacts negatively with the finish — leading to the dreaded cloudy look.
Use of too much cleaning product
When cleaning hardwood floors, it is usually recommended to use a small amount of the cleaning product.
A small application of the product (cleaner/detergent) on a microfiber mop is all that is needed to clean the floor.
Use of too much cleaner may result in some remaining on the floor thereby creating a hazy, cloudy look.
Water is commonly used in cleaning hardwood floors; however, too much water on the wood floor can have a damaging effect on it and change its look entirely.
Therefore, when cleaning your floor, avoid wet mops. Use microfiber cleaning pads instead and your will never see a hazy, cloudy on your wood floor.
Too much cleaning
Too much cleaning can also result in hazy, cloudy look. Even a well protected floor can be damaged if it is cleaned too much, like more than once or twice daily.
Many manufacturers of prefinished wood do not encourage too much daily cleaning of the floor. They recommend wood floors to be cleaned at most once per day.
Salt deposits on the floor
The presence of salt deposits on the wood floor can make them have a cloudy look and an uneven sheen.
Salts and mineral elements may be present in the water you use for cleaning. The salts may either react with the floor's finish or form a residue.
The best way of getting rid of these salt deposits is by use of vinegar.
How to Clean Cloudy Hardwood Floors
Steam cleaning is one of the best methods for removing stubborn dirt and stains from hardwood floor.
The method also sanitizes a surface by killing 99% of household germs using the high temperature of steam. It is therefore also suitable for the removal of white haze from hardwood floors.
Steam can only be used on a completely sealed floor.
You should always use the best steam mop for hardwood floors to see good results. Steam mops do not use harsh chemicals for cleaning but instead use only water.
During cleaning, do not leave a steam mop in one position for long as this can also create white spots on your floor.
Additionally, avoid using hard water since it contains minerals that can discolor the finish.
Cleaning with vinegar
White vinegar is a natural, non-toxic product that safely deodorizes, disinfects, and cleans most hard surfaces.
White vinegar is mildly acidic; this makes it useful for dissolving hardened residue such as grease and hard water stains.
Other types of vinegar like apple cider vinegar can also work effectively.
The good thing about vinegar is that you can customize the scent by mixing it with a few drops of essential oils before cleaning.
How to do it:
- Fill a bucket with at least one gallon of hot water. The warmer water is for loosening dirt and grime that makes your floor look cloudy.
- Add 2 cups of white vinegar into the bucket. Swish the vinegar solution gently to make sure it is blended.
- Before you start mopping, make sure you have cleared the floor of all removable furniture, appliances, and other objects.
- Using a damp cloth, gently rub the floors in a circular motion to remove the cloudy deposits. Work your way across the floor and areas with a cloudy look.
- With another clean, damp cloth, go over the entire area of the floor to remove any trace of the vinegar-water mixture from the floor. If you happen to skip this step, the dingy vinegar water will dry on your floor and again leave behind streaks and white spots.
- After wiping your floor dry, allow it some time (at least 60 minutes) to air dry before returning the furniture and appliances.
Cleaning with Ammonia
Ammonia is a very powerful cleanser for floors that have sticky stains, spots that won’t go away, and notorious scuff marks.
Now, because of the overpowering smell that ammonia produces, many people fear it. However, the best way to avoid this smell is by diluting ammonia with lots of water and by ensuring that your windows remain open during mopping.
When you have decided to use ammonia to clean your wood floor, never attempt to mix it with chlorine bleach because the fumes of this mixture can be toxic and irritating to the eyes. In strong enough doses, it can be deadly.
Also, after removing the stains, ensure that ammonia is rinsed properly from the floor.
Traces of ammonia on the floor can not only damage your floor but, they can attract tiny particles of dust and dirt, which will be harder to remove.
How to do it:
- Sweep, dust mop, or vacuum your wood floor to remove excess dirt.
- Fill a large bucket about half way with lukewarm water. Add one cup of ammonia solution and mix it well. Bear in mind that this solution will clear away the cloudy look and disinfect your floors.
- Dip a mop inside the solution of ammonia, and thoroughly wring out excess solution. You do not want to cause any more damage to your floors due to excess ammonia on the floor.
- Now, gently rub the mop on the floor in a circular motion to remove spots, marks, and stains that make your floor look cloudy.
- After the stains, marks, or spots have been removed, use a clean, damp cloth to go over the floor once again to remove traces of ammonia. Be very careful not to keep the mixture of ammonia and water on the floor for long.
- Using a dry cloth or mop, wipe the surface area clean immediately.
Cleaning using just lukewarm water
Wood floors may also look hazy, cloudy due to presence of salt deposits and if this is the case you can simply use some lukewarm water to remove the salt deposits from the surface of your hardwood floors.
How to do it:
- Fill a bucket with lukewarm water.
- Using a damp cloth, wipe over the areas with a cloudy look. Avoid using a string or a sponge mop for your hardwood floors, as they do not work as well to absorb the moisture.
- Using a dry, clean cloth, immediately wipe the hardwood floor and allow it some time to air dry.
Vacuuming hardwood floors before you mop can help prevent sticky debris from tarnishing your floor.
Mopping before you vacuum is a way of adding sticky mud on the surface after the soil dissolves in the water.
Soil and dirt also acts as sandpaper when you walk on the floor.
Not all vacuum cleaners can be used on a hardwood floor. Traditional vacuum cleaners with a beater bar can damage your wood floor.
The best hardwood floor vacuum usually has soft brushes that are gentle.
Washing, wear and tear will eventually make your hardwood floors look old and somehow cloudy.
One of the easiest way of making such floors to look new again is by application of a wood floor polish and restorer.
While there are plenty of such products formulated this purpose, not all of them will give the best results. Therefore, you need to dig deeper to get the best one.
How to Prevent Your Hardwood Floors from Getting Cloudy
Prevention is always better than cure.
If you do not give maintenance of your wood floor a priority then chances are the floor won’t last for long. With time, the gleaming finish will get ruined if neglected.
Here are some important tips to observe:
- During mopping, use a fine spray mist, microfiber mop or a damp cloth. Avoid things like oil soap, wax and wood cleaners that can easily damage your floor.
- Do not allow water to settle for too long on your hardwood floors as this can have damaging effects such as cloudiness and haziness.
- Avoid using ammonia solution regularly on your floors. Ammonia can strip off the finish and warp the wood.
Identifying the underlying cause of why your hardwood floor has a cloudy look can help you make important decisions, such as the kind of cleaning solution to use and how the mopping should be done.
However, without proper knowledge of the causes, effort to restore the original beauty and luster of your hardwood floor can make things simply get worse.