Is it normal that walking barefoot on your wood floors would leave footprints that have to be rubbed out?

Q: We recently purchased a brand new house with pre-finished Brazilian hard wood floors. During the inspection we noted that there were foot prints all over the floor that did not wipe up. When we took possession of the house, these foot prints were still present. Thus far, we have had the builders come in 3 times and each time they say it requires a good cleaning.

For the most part, the foot prints are gone now, but the last time they cleaned the floors one of their workers said they were using paint thinner. They are denying that comment now, but it seems that whenever we walk across the floors barefoot it leaves footprints. Is it normal that walking barefoot on your wood floors would leave footprints that have to be rubbed out?

A: I think someone has used an “unfriendly” cleaner that has left a residue on the finish. You should go to your nearest hardwood retailer and buy a gallon of concentrated Bona Pacific Floor Cleaner, which you will mix according to label instructions with water. This stuff will work wonders.

Similar Q: My 3 year old Bellwood Brazilian walnut is beautiful but smudges HORRIBLY. We cannot walk barefoot or with socks on it because it leaves full foot smudges! What can I do? Please help! I’m at my wits end!

A: You could contact the manufacturer or installer to find out what is happening. I think it is simply contaminants. Oils from skin or whatever. Use a proper polyurethane cleaner and that should get rid of the contaminants. See, etc.

Another Similar Q: I am having a problem cleaning my wood floor. I bought a cleaner for hardwood floors, but every time I mop the floor with this cleaner (I spray it on a cloth, then mop) foot prints are left all over the floor. This has not happened before with this cleaner. Why is it happening now?

A: Tough to say what is causing this, but it sounds like there may be an oily residue on the finish. Anyone applying lotion to their feet and walking through the house? Perhaps a better cleaner is in order. Bona Kemi Pacific cleaner, Mirage floor cleaner, Circa 1850 Bare Floor, or the one from Poloplaz which you can buy from this site:

Yet Another Similar Q: I have new hardwood floors and have been using Bona Pacific Floor Cleaner once a week. My floors always have footprints and look dull. Is it the finish of my floors or the cleaner? Could it be the detergent I use to clean my terry cloth pads? I use Tide and a little bleach.

A: I don’t believe it is the cleaner or the Tide and bleach. It does go through a rinse cycle. Is it because people are walking bare foot through the house?

Follow-up Q: We do walk bare foot. I had hard wood floors in my last home and we walked bare footed, but I never saw all these footprints. The finish on those floors was shinier. My floors in this house have more of a matte finish. Would that make a difference?

A: I don’t have a problem with bare feet on hardwood. It will deposit oils from our skin. If someone is using lotion or Vaseline, that will create issues. The use of Bona Pacific should clean that off.

Second Follow-up Q: So it probably does not have anything to do with the finish on the floor?

A: You have said your current finish is matte. That means ‘no shine’. Matte is a lower sheen than even satin. You can’t expect a ‘matte’ finish to have any shine. As to foot prints, that sounds more like residue from something contaminating the surface of the finish.

Q: Have you had questions regarding how to care for Columbian Walnut engineered flooring? The finish on our 6 year-old flooring shows every foot, shoe and bare-foot print.

A: What have you been using to clean it because it sounds like whatever it is, a residue is being left on the floor surface. If it is a polyurethane type coating you can get good cleaners from any hardwood retailer, made by companies who manufacture floor finishes and wood flooring.

Related Q: What is the best engineered hard wood finish for NOT showing footprints?

A: There is no need for a top coat, polyurethane or varnish to show foot prints unless it has a contaminant on it such as oil soaps or other products that leave a film on the finish.

Similar Q: My dark stained hickory flooring is impossible to clean. Even sock prints show up and are hard to clean. Literally all traffic shows up.

A: What are you using to clean the finish? Some so called cleaners can actually leave a residue on the floor surface that will do just as you describe. There are cleaners you can get from floor finish manufacturers such as Polo Plaz, Basic Coatings, Bona Kemi etc. I’ve even seen a Bona Kemi cleaner at Home Depot you could use.

16 thoughts on “Is it normal that walking barefoot on your wood floors would leave footprints that have to be rubbed out?”

  1. I have the same problem! Our floor installer said to use Bruce’s floor cleaner. It cleans but as soon as someone steps on it it leaves a print. I just order dust mop booties to onto of all our shoes. I can’t stand the marks! Can you seal them? Will that make it better?

  2. I have my entire house with Brazilian cheery dark prefinished wood floor and to keep it clean I would have to mop every hour. It’s horrible the amount of work I need to do. I got a tennis elbow from mopping and wiping.

  3. My hardwood floor has a matte finish. It is engineered maple. Had it for over a year and right from the beginning, it always shows footprints from walking on it barefoot. (I take it oil from our skin as we do not have any lotion/vaseline on our bare feet). Cannot get it to come off. Have been mopping floor with warm water and mild soap and although it gets the footprints to fade a bit, they never come off completely. What do you suggest?

  4. Same problem here, also with a prefinished hardwood (Macuco). I have used Bono religiously and it hasn’t helped one bit. I have decided it has something to do with the prefinish. We spent a lot of money on this floor and if it wasn’t for the hassle I’d rip it up and start over. The 25 year-old fifty-cent a board foot poplar that we put in this house when we were dead broke and building it NEVER gave us these problems. Every time someone steps on this floor…bare feet, sock feet, tennis shoes…there’s a print. It’s been a nightmare.

  5. My entire house is Brazilian Cherry and not matter what I use (usually vinegar and water), they look great until someone walks on them. Socks, dog paws, everything leaves a greasy looking print or film. I am at my wits end. Any suggestions are welcome!!

  6. I have the exact same problem! Brazilian Cherry prefinished hardwood floors! I have a large area rug and then I use a matching runner where I walk. I hate that because I bought them to be seen. It has nothing to do with oils on your feet! It happens when we wear socks! It’s obviously something that’s happens with this finish! I would not recommend these floors to anyone. A cheaper wood floor would have been better! I hope recommending area rugs and runners help .

  7. We have had our real wood floors resurfaced and stained light brown and protected with Glitsa. We have dogs and there are find scratches everywhere. So disappointed. I use Bona as instructed from company that resurfaced floors. Looks good when done but as soon as anyone, with socks, or without, walks on floors, smudges are present. I’ve purchased a new applicator from Bono to pick up hair and dust and then another new applicator to clean floors, which you have to use a lot of arm strength to swipe back and forth. These new applicators do nothing to help the end result of smudging.

    Any ideas?

  8. I also have dark matte finish bamboo floors . Please stop recommending BONO . It does not work! I also have smudges everywhere. Every shoe print foot print ( even with socks on) shows . I’m at my wits end. I can mop and and an hour later the smudges return. I have tried poloplaz cleaner , vinegar and water hard wood floor cleaner none of it works. I’m guessing my only option is to pull it all up. I do not want to put polyurethane on it because that scratches. Bissel makes a small buffer ( called spin wave ) machine you can put any cleaner in .Love the machine but again I can’t find a cleaner that works. If anyone knows of a product that works .. please post it. Thanks

  9. You would have been better off to call in a professional. I’m confused as to why you would sand, then wax, then do a vinegar wash (which by the way doesn’t hold much chance of removing all the wax.) and then stain. I can’t imagine the stain penetrated evenly or at all. Then you applied paste wax. The wax is likely far too thick and this is why you are getting marks. It should be mentioned that wax does mark easily. Moist skin on your feet, water drops etc all leave marks. You may want to consider getting a Dura Seal product called Renovator. It is used for previously waxed floors. It cleans and then leaves a thin coat of resin on the surface.

  10. Old hardwood floors sanded, I put a thin layer of wax on, then washed it all off with hit water & white vinegar….stained floors, wiped off excess, used thin layer of Johnson Paste wax & buffed it in, then used a polishing buffer to shine it up… walk across the floor and you leave prints….have cleaned bottom of shoes but still leaving prints….why?

  11. I am currently trying to find a way to remove foot prints from my wooden floors too! I can use the steam cleaner and they look fine but within an hour, they have feet prints back on them. It is the oil from my skin and even if I have socks on, these prints show too! The floor is clean but it looks dirty. I am going to try mopping with vinegar water and see if this maybe takes some kind of residue off the floor. I had hard wood at my last house and it did not do this. This floor is engineered wood so I guess that is the problem. The finish is light so it’s not just dark floors that do it. Drives me crazy!

  12. I have the same problem with my pre-stained Brazilian cherry flooring. Foot prints everywhere. The installer said he can put polyurethane on it and the problem will go away. He allowed me to walk on such a piece of wood and there were no prints. I think I’ll try it.

  13. I have prefinished brazilian cherry floors and the do the same thing. And no, our feet are not covered in lotion or oil. The bona cleaner doesn’t work. Looks ok till you touch the floor with ” anything” – feet, shoes, fingers, the vacuum cleaner wheels ( which have been cleaned). It is a nightmare. The “only” thing that helps is cleaning with mineral spirits, and i’m not sure how long that will last. Plus it stinks. Lots of people seem to have the same problem and it is always brazilian cherry ……hmmmmmmn.

  14. I can understand your frustration. 3000 square feet can pose a huge maintenance issue. But, you shouldn’t be getting ‘smudges’ on the floors unless there is some oily residue contaminating the floor surface. It could be from the use of oil soaps, Swiffer where the data sheet for the product says it contains wax. I could imagine even people walking around in bare feet constantly would eventually deposit enough oil from our skin to cause a problem. I’ve used a product from Poloplaz on 2 different floors as a last effort rescue attempt. In both cases Tie Tac was able to remove the contaminant. In one case it was Honda spray. In another it was wax from using a Swiffer. I don’t know if you really want to spend a couple of thousand dollars to buy a polisher, but perhaps you could rent one. My approach would be to spray Tie Tac on the floor is small sections at a time and buff over the wet area with a white buffing pad which is not abrasive so it won’t scratch your finish but should disturb whatever is on the floor. Then, when it has dried, put some warm water in a bucket and add this cleaner. Soak a large towel in the solution, ring it out so it isn’t dripping wet. Wipe the towel around a push broom and go around the floor like a zamboni machine. When it has dried you can wipe it down with your regular cleaner.

    As a side note, I don’t like prefinished floors. They with their beveled edges will become an issue eventually. Likewise, very dark colours tend to be more unforgiving.

  15. All great responses to support smudges (oil feet) on hardwood floors, but when you have a home with 3000 SQ FT of prefinish hardwoods, you get tired using Bona cleaning & mopping products. I would like to have a TOOL that cleans or buffs the floors. Spray and moping gets really old and within 1 hours I see smudges again. I even have to get on my knees to do a deep cleaning to really pull up the residue. Bona doesn’t pull up the residue due to minimal force we use during mopping.

    Give it a try if you have smudges… clean your floor and let it dry. Now go back with a clean white cloth, slightly damp with water and clean a small area. Less than a foot in diameter. Do a cricle motion and look at your cloth.. is it dirty?

    I would like to know of a TOOL that could be used… some type of stand up buffer that will hold a micro fiber cloth. I can spray, but a tool would be nice. Any ideas? Remember…3000+ sq feet.

    Honestly, I would never recommend these floors.. or maybe dark floors.

    Hoping for a reply.

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