How To Remove Floor Wax From Wood Floors

Alex Mcil author
Alex Mcil

Wood floors can be really hard to take care of, and you need to provide them with wax coating frequently if you want to protect them and keep them looking fresh and new.

However, over time you will experience wax buildup, which will collect a lot of dirt, and on hardwood floors, it can be seen from a mile away.

removing wax from wood floors

Removing wax buildup is a necessary step you will need to take once or twice a year, but lucky for you, there is an easy way to do it at home, all by yourself!

“The key to an effective wax removal from wood floors is balance, too aggressive and you’ll damage the floor, too gentle and the wax will remain. I recommend using a soft, non-abrasive pad and a specialized wax stripper, formulated not to harm the wood, these work wonders without risking the integrity of your floor.”

Crispin Kildare, Floor Care Specialist

Removing Floor Wax Kit

These are some of the things that are necessary if you are planning to remove wax buildup from your hardwood floor, and don’t start the process before you make sure you have all of these products at hand.

  • dustpan
  • mineral spirits
  • microfiber soft cloth
  • strong mop
  • large bucket
  • gloves
  • steel wool
  • knee cushion

These are some of the things that will help you handle the floor wax on any floor (wood or otherwise).

I would recommend you take small steps to dissolve the wax layer, and you will need several hours to finish the process, even in an average living room.

You will need to go over every section several times if you want to remove all the wax, and after you have finished it, I would recommend you to go over again just to make sure there is no wax residue anywhere.

It can be very time-consuming, but the hardest natural wax takes time to get removed, and you will need to be patient with it.

How To Remove Wax Buildup On Hardwood Floors

If you want to get the perfect floor finish and make sure your products dissolve wax, then follow this short step-by-step guide.

Patience is a virtue and will ensure the best possible results, so don’t give up too soon!

Step 1 – Rub The Wood Floor

You will need to pour a lot of mineral spirits on your soft cloth and start pushing them into the wax coating.

You will need to push your cloth in the same directions as the wood grain because this is the only way you can remove all the wax coating that remains.

I would recommend you to use a perfectly clean cloth and divide it into sections – use a little section for every part of the floor, and in case it gets way too dirty, and you see that it’s not giving any results, then switch onto the other.

Mineral spirits are the best solution for it because they are odorless, and they will not eliminate only the wax coating but also the leftover dirt on the surface.

When the old wax starts coming off the hardwood flooring, you will see that your cloth will turn dark yellow, which is always a sign that the wax is slowly coming off.

Repeat this process on every part of the hardwood flooring until all wax comes off.

Step 2 – Add Steel Wool To The Process & Continue Rubbing

Once all the wax has come off, and your cloth is not getting yellow anymore, you can switch to fine steel wool that can help you finish the process.

A steel wool pad needs to get moistened, and you can even do it with plain water; just put it into a spray bottle that will allow you to spray it easily on the wool.

You can also use the same mineral spirits you used on the previous cloth and then go over the same wood floor sections.

Make sure to push it easily on the hard textured parts of the floor because the tough stain removal can be quite frustrating, and you don’t want to damage your floor during the process.

Steel wool is the best way to work into wax products, and make sure you carefully scrape all the leftovers. However, for refinishing of engineered hardwood floors, this process of rubbing should be avoided!

Step 3 – Repeat Several Times

After the first scraping, you will see how your hard wood floor acts, and you will see how much you will have to do striping wax.

Both acrylic waxes and those that are a little less aggressive will be able to dissolve, and your wooden floor should be free from it after two or three swipes.

Since you will be using mineral spirits, you will also get rid of the characteristic odor, and the loose dirt will disappear, too, so your floor will look new.

Also, make sure you use the knee cushion broom all the time because the process can take you quite some time, and you don’t want to hurt, but you also don’t want the material that dissolves wax to ruin your clothes.

The wax buildup should get removed after a few swipes, and in the end, you can always put the cloth in hot water and go over the whole section again.

Step 4 – Mop The Floor

If you want to make sure you have gotten rid of all loose wax and that the striping wax process is 100% over, you should use a dry mop and go over the whole floor with some more hot water.

A dry microfiber cloth or mop will help clean the whole floor slippery and mop the unused wax or leftover wax.

mop wood floor to remove residual wax

Make sure your mop is dry as much as possible because the remaining water can harm your hardwood floor, especially if you have unprotected wood surfaces. Alternatively, you can use a specialized floor cleaner machine designed to clean hardwood floors without using excess water and causing damage.

What To Do After This?

Most people decide to give their hardwood floor a whole new finish after this process, which is absolutely normal.

However, I would recommend you to take some time because you don’t want to damage unfinished hardwood floors or mess with the leftover water or wax.

After you have gotten rid of all floor wax, make sure you add polyurethane coating because it is way more enduring than the regular wax coating. It is stronger and will definitely prevent wax buildup in the future, so I would always recommend it over any liquid wax or carnauba wax.

Make sure your hardwood floor is free of any wax, and then add polyurethane for the best results. Follow the instructions of your floor manufacturer, and don’t overdo it!

8 thoughts on “How To Remove Floor Wax From Wood Floors”

  1. Using a mixture of vinegar and water has always worked effectively for removing wax build-up on the hardwood floors I’ve handled.

  2. I’ve found that a touch of rubbing alcohol on a cloth works wonders for situations with stubborn wax build-up; it dissolves the wax without damaging the floor.

  3. I second that, Erlandson. Rubbing alcohol has been my secret weapon for ages now when it comes to tackling stubborn wax build-up. However, I would also suggest going easy on it, as excessive use might inadvertently strip off the clear protective coating of your floors.

  4. Trust me, restoring an aged hardwood floor can sometimes be like tending to an old wound, they both need gentle care. Remember, what works for one may not work for all, like some woods respond better to alcohol while others might not.

  5. Indeed, Trudy, treating aged hardwood is significantly like nurturing a delicate vintage piece, it involves uncovering the unique traits of the particular wood type. Based on my routine experience with different timbers, I have found that olive oil mixed with vinegar can also work wonders in restoring the natural shine of some hardwoods. Although remember, test it first on a concealed spot to ensure the mixture interacts favorably with your specific wood type.

  6. Oh Quentin, you’ve touched upon a distinctive method! I too involve a similar procedure in my routine wood care regimen, albeit with slight alterations. Instead of olive oil, I make use of mineral oil, primarily because it doesn’t turn rancid over time. In line with your advice, I would also emphasize the importance of testing any solution on a hidden spot before applying it across the entirety of the floor or furniture piece.

  7. I’ve always found warm vinegar solution works best for removing wax build up on my hardwood floors without damaging the wood.

  8. Echoing Gilbert’s thought here, I’ve also found that warm vinegar does wonders for clearing off wax buildup! Also, make sure you’re using a soft cloth while wiping so as not to scratch the wood surface.

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