Oily soap left whitish chalky/ashy haze

Q: We just bought a house that is over 80 yrs. old. There is wood everywhere and we hope to be able to make it look great (we’ve even ripped out almost all the carpet & tack-strips). The banister on the stairs has a lot of black dirt on it, I think no one has used wood polish or anything for decades. I don’t think it has ever been polyurethaned. Not knowing any better, I took some M*****’s Oil Soap and it took away a lot of the black dirt, but now there is a whitish chalky/ashy haze!

Oh no! Should I run out and buy some O***** Oil cleaner, will that help? I hope I have not ruined it.

A: You could remove this mess with a polyurethane cleaner or a solution of TSP. Supermarket cleaners are not the way to go.

Follow-up Q: What is TSP, and where can I get it? Should I hire someone to ‘restore’ it? What kind of professional would I look for?

A: TSP is trisodium phosphate and is available at any hardware or big box store. It generally comes in granule form. This sort of work is generally done by a painter.

Related Q: Hi, We have polyurethane finished Brazilian cherry hardwood floors for over 14 years. I have tried many different wood floor cleaners and I now have a oily haze on them. Can we use a floor buffing machine to remove this? I see you recommend Bona cleaner, which I’ve used in the past, but did not get good results. Is there another product you would recommend? The rooms are big, so I need to cover a large area.

A: Yes Poloplaz also makes a floor cleaner as does Basic Coatings. Try to find a wood flooring distributor in your area and contact them. They likely carry somebodies product. Have you been using something like an oil soap?