We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

5 Reasons Your Hardwood Floors Are Looking Dull and Dingy

A man cleaning and polishing his hardwood floors with a rag.

No matter how shiny your wood floors start out, wear and tear over time can really dull that shine. You can get the floor sparkling again with a few tricks.

Before you get your hardwood floor shining again, it helps to know what’s dulling that shine. There are a few factors behind a dull wood floor.

You’re Using the Wrong Cleaner

When you’re shopping for cleaners for your wood floors, you want to buy something that is made for hardwood cleaning and for the coating that you used on your floors (and avoid harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia).

At best, using the wrong cleaner doesn’t help clean your floor properly and may even leave a dull-looking residue behind. At worst, it can leave the coating on the wood cloudy and damage the floors.

You’re Using Too Much Cleaner

Another important reason to follow the instructions on your hardwood cleaner is that if you’re using too much of it, the chemicals can build-up and dull the shine of your floor. Too much is often not a good thing, especially when it comes to caring for wood flooring.

As a general use, less is more, and it only takes a small amount of cleaner to get the job done. Follow the instructions and, when in doubt, use a little less rather than a little more.

You’re Not Getting the Floor Clean Enough

Sweep or vacuum your wood floors before you clean them, otherwise your just redistributing dirt and dust, which is keeping the floors dull. If your hardwood floors are properly sealed, you should be able to safely wet mop them to help pick up any debris that may be adding to the dullness.

You’ve Overwaxed Your Floors

The best way to avoid having overwaxed floors is by finishing yours with a polyurethane finish. If your floor finish doesn’t even call for wax (which poly doesn’t), then you’ll never have to worry about wax buildup or the hassle of the wax-and-polish routine.

If you are going the wax route (or looking to refinish or maintain an existing waxed floor), you definitely want to take the time to do it right. Dealing with wax floor mistakes is a huge hassle. Check out this article for a very in-depth look at how to care properly wax and maintain a wood floor the old fashioned way.

Your Floor Is Too Scratched Up

Shoes, pets, and moving around furniture are all things that can scratch up your hardwood floors, making them look extra dull. While starting with a well-applied finish and taking care of your floors over time with regular maintenance, eventually even the best-cared-for floor will start to show it’s age.

If a good cleaning routine isn’t bringing the life back to your floors and there’s significant wear on them, it’s likely that you need to redo them. The video above does a great job showcasing what a start to finish job looks like in a quick time-lapse format to give you an idea of what you might be in for.

The finish on your hardwood floors isn’t made to last forever, so when you can’t get them to shine anymore or they’re too scratched up, it’s time to put in some time for refinishing and resealing.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?