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Why Some Cleaning Products Make Wood Floors Look Dull and Dirty

Why Some Cleaning Products Make Wood Floors Look Dull and Dirty

So you spent a good amount of money to get that nice timber flooring. You would have slept right on the glossy sheen of wood that was your floor. Then, a few years down the line, you notice something lacking, the spark is no longer there. The honeymoon phase you had with your timber floor has somehow disappeared. What happened to it? Where’s the radiant of beauty it once had? Why does it look tired, dull, scruffy and uninspired?! Now before you do something harsh and divorce your timber flooring, you might want to read why wood floors lose their brilliance over time and get some tips on how to ignite the spark you once had.

It’s a given that you’ve done what you think was enough to keep your timber floors as shiny as possible. Maybe even using products like Pledge and Long LIfe 4 in 1 with amazing success! Almost too good to be true, right? Well, it is too good to be true! Products like Pledge and Long life 4 in 1 contains a wax polish which adheres to the floor, creating a fine film and gives wood floors that remarkable sparkle. Sure, wood floors are guaranteed to look amazing right after cleaning. But soon after, it becomes dull and years of using products with wax polish can have disastrous effects on your beloved wood floor.

How do I know if My Floor Cleaner Contains a Wax Polish?

Wax is used in floor cleaners to increase light reflection which gives it that illusion of shine. If your cleaning product promises to make your floor shiny, then it probably contains some form of wax polish.

What Happens When There’s Too Much Wax on My Floor?

After repeated cleaning with a wax polish based cleaner, your floor will start to look dull. That’s because tons and tons of wax have accumulated into a gunky mess that hides beneath the fresh coat of wax you applied on top of that gunk. The result is a grimy, sticky look that can’t be removed with repeated cleaning. The floor will look great straight after cleaning, but once the floor has dried and is subject to foot traffic it will start to look like the photos below.

After the initial shine wears off, your floor will start looking like this. Dull and lifeless.

After a while, the wax builds and attracts dirt, creating a dark, sticky film.

20 years of wax buildup can do this to your floor. We’ve had a few jobs like this where we’ve spent days using paint scrapers to remove built up wax.

How can I prevent wax build up and protect my floor?

Floor coating manufacturers like Bona™ recommend using a neutral cleaning product that doesn’t contain wax. If all you have on hand are cleaning products with wax components, here’s what we suggest to keep your floors looking great:

  • Dilute the cleaning solution according to the directions on the label. Avoid over-using as it will ultimately lead to product buildup.
  • Every 5th clean, use ammonia to clean your floor to remove the wax build up. 1 cup of Ammonia to 4 litres of cool water will do the trick.
  • If you’ve got a noticeable wax build up, just double the strength of the ammonia solution, i.e. 2 cups of ammonia to 4 litres of water.


When using ammonia, take care to rinse thoroughly but do not over-wet the wood. Water is the natural enemy of wood.

If your efforts with ammonia doesn’t bring success then call E-Dry. Our specialist wood team has a range of products that will allow us to safely strip off the built up wax and re-coat your floor without the need for sanding.


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