Just a few tips for how to clean hardwood floors that are looking dull.

Even though hardwood floors are durable and require very little maintenance, occasionally a situation can arise that needs a bit of attention. The problem may be as simple as needing a basic clean or more complex if the finish has actually warn away and refinishing may be in order.

Fortunately most issues aren’t as bad as they look and these tips on how to clean hardwood floors can have yours looking like new in practically no time at all.

If you’ve followed the tips and techniques in the cleaning section of this site and you haven’t been able to renew the appearance of the wood, it may be time to consider refinishing. For most non-laminate flooring you can give your hardwood floor a fresh start by ‘screening’ or refinishing.

If the finish isn’t warn away, you can’t see greyish bare wood through the finish, you should be able to bring your floors back to life with some deep cleaning.


Hardwood floors have been used in homes for hundreds of years and the chances of you encountering any cosmetic problem that hasn’t occurred and been solved before are about slim and none.

Try these cleaning solutions for your hardwood flooring issues:


If you happen to look at your hardwood floor one day and wonder ‘what happened to the shine’, you might need to take at look at your cleaning products. Other than with a ‘dry’ damp mop, hardwood should mainly be cleaned with products specifically designed for the wood floors.
Dull Floor

Any cleaners with oil, ammonia, or vinegar in the compound can leave behind a residue that can eventually dull the floor’s shine or wear away the finish.

So, getting your floor to look good again may mean cleaning off a layer of buildup first, then using a purpose cleaner for wood floors.

The solution for how to clean hardwood floors depends on the type of floor in your home. Most prefinished solid and engineered hardwoods have a surface sealant that can be renewed simply by re-cleaning with a product designed for the material. Most major manufacturers such as Bruce or Armstrong market cleaning solutions for their products.

Older solid hardwoods with a penetrating sealant can often be renewed by buffing with a wax formulated for wood floors.

For finished floors that have a polyurethane coating, Poly Care is a tried and tested product that we recommend. Mixed with water the bottle goes a long way and with regular use you should be able to avoid a dull finish.


While these can also be caused by product residues, dullness that’s only visible in certain areas may be caused by excessive foot traffic along a travel route. The wood floors in an older home can often be refreshed in these spots with a coat of wax – prefinished solid and engineered floors require an inspection.
Floor Before Refinish Iamjessekeating
If you can see gray in the dull areas, in all likelihood the finish has completely worn off and refinishing is in order, like the photo to the right.

Dull spots without gray showing can usually be renewed with cleanser designed for cleaning hardwood.

Knowing how to clean hardwood floors is not only about reacting to problems but preventing them as well. Putting down a throw rug or a runner in a high traffic areas is a good idea to protect the finish.


Lighter spots that may even appear to be white may be caused by water drips from wet shoes, a drink glass, or even a pet that’s been at the water bowl. While in most cases these can simply be wiped away, on occasion you may need to apply a little mineral spirits and some very fine steel wool.

These cleaning tips apply to solid and engineered hardwoods – laminate floors use cleaners designed for the product that can normally be purchased a home improvement stores or from the manufacturer.

For prefinished and laminate floors alike, in between more deep cleans you can usually get away with ‘dry’ damp mopping followed with a dry cloth. Laminate floors should not be waxed as it can damage the finish on the product.

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