How To Remove Wax Build-Up From Wood Floors? (4-Step Guide)

If your hardwood floors don’t have the shine that they used to, it’s probably time to remove the old wax build-up so that you can refinish them. Removing this build-up is very easy as long as you use the right solution, as some methods can stain or damage your floors permanently. Let’s take a look at how to remove this unwanted build-up step by step.

What You Need To Know About Removing Wax Build-Up From Wood Floors

A wax finish is a great way to protect your hardwood floors and add a beautiful sheen at the same time. There are different blends of waxes out there that require distinct cleaners to remove them from wood without damaging the flooring. In the past, people used lacquer thinner and ammonia to do this. While they are strong and effective, they can do permanent damage to your wood floors if you aren’t careful. The best way to strip that waxy build-up is to prep your floors and slowly clean them to perfection with mineral spirits.

Commercial Wax Removers

Be careful using commercial products when removing wax build-up from your floors. Some of them work great, but some of them can do irreversible damage to wood. These products contain various ingredients that can react unpredictably to different types of waxes and woods. They may seem like a good idea, but should only be used if you know exactly what you are doing.

Supplies You’ll Need For Removing Wax Build-Up From Wood Floors

  • Rubber gloves
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Steel wool
  • Knee pads
  • Mop and bucket
  • Broom
  • Vacuum
  • 0000 steel wool pads

How To Remove Wax Build-Up From Wood Floors? (4 Steps)

Step 1: Prep Your Floors

Before we can remove the wax build-up from the floor, we have to make sure they are free from dirt and grime because they will make the mineral spirits less effective. Plus, we don’t want to rub anything in that could permanently stain the wood. 

Take the time to sweep and vacuum your floors beforehand. Crud can build up on top of the wax, even if it’s hard to see.

You are probably going to want a pair of knee pads for this process. It isn’t particularly difficult, but you will be spending some time on your knees.

Step 2: Clean With Mineral Spirits And A Cloth

Now we are ready to start removing the ugly wax residue from our floors. Apply mineral spirits to a soft microfiber cloth and wipe back and forth with the grain of the wood. If you thoroughly cleaned your floors beforehand, then the cloth should start to turn a yellowish color as the wax comes off of the wood. Make sure to change the cloths as they get dirty. You can move onto another section of the floor once there is no more yellow residue appearing on your cloth.

Step 3: Deep Clean With Mineral Spirits And Steel Wool

Now that the majority of the wax is gone, we need to use steel wool to get into the crevices of the wood’s grain. Steel wool provides a deeper clean than a fabric cloth. Make sure to use a super fine #0000 steel wool pad for this. Continue to work with the grain of the wood gently so that you don’t damage the flooring. 

Repeat this alternating process on small sections of flooring to ensure you don’t miss any areas. 

Step 4: Finish Cleaning With Hot Water

We are almost done! Now it’s time to mop the floors with hot water to clean off any leftover wax and mineral spirits. Keep in mind that your wood floors are unprotected now, so don’t let the water sit on the floors. Do a quick pass with the mop and immediately dry them off to prevent water damage.

Now your floors are free of that old waxy layer and are ready for a brand-new finish.

Final Thoughts On Removing Wax Build-Up From Wood Floors

Removing built-up wax from wood floors is easy enough for anyone to do in a couple of hours. The main things to take away from this process are to go slow and be gentle with your floors, and be sure not to put too much pressure when cleaning with steel wool. Following these simple steps will help rejuvenate your flooring and prep your wood for a shiny new finish.

Meet your Flooring Expert

Travis McCullough

Travis McCullough

Travis is a lifelong jack-of-all-trades in the construction industry with 20 years of experience in a variety of fields. He’s tackled flooring, carpentry, and everything in between on residential and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes.
Working independently and as part of a crew has equipped him with the know-how to not only complete a project but also teach others the finer points within most building professions. When he isn’t out hanging off of a ladder or crawling around on a roof, Travis spends his time educating people about the construction industry.

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