How to Remove Wax from Hardwood Floors (4 Easy Methods)

How to Remove Wax from Hardwood Floors

Ways on how to remove wax from hardwood floors will vary and depends mostly on the amount actually used over the years. Floor wax is usually made of animal, vegetable, or mineral fats; this causes it to not really achieve a complete dryness.

Although floor wax is used to protect hardwood floor moisture, it is not a durable finish and must be reapplied regularly. This leads to an unhealthy buildup of floor wax that can make refinishing almost impossible.

So if you want to refinish your floor, you have to remove every trace of wax from your floor, this process is not really difficult, but you will need some elbow grease.

Read: How to remove adhesive from wood floors

How To Remove Wax From Hardwood Floors

Removing wax from hardwood floor is a very inexpensive process but might be time-consuming, so you might go ahead and cancel your schedule for that day; you will need these items for the process;

  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Cloths
  • Mineral spirits
  • Steel wool


You want to work in a well-ventilated area because mineral spirit produces toxic fumes; you also want to put on protective clothing like gloves and, if possible, a ventilator. The process of stripping wax off a floor can be really messy, so you can opt to wear old clothes.

Before you starting working, you want to, first of all, clean the floor area you are going to be working on, nothing too much, just some light cleaning with a broom or vacuum.

Apply Mineral Spirit

Apply a small amount of mineral spirit directly unto a small section of the floor, not more than a 4-foot by 4-foot area; you want to work in small sections as it is easier to completely remove the wax from a small surface compared to a big one.

When working on one section, you want to make sure you completely remove the wax from that area before moving to the next.

Soak the mineral spirit into a clean cloth or rag; start working the mineral spirits into the wax coating using medium pressure rubbing in the same direction as the wood grain.

As you rub the wax off, you will notice a yellow hue stain on the cloth; once one cloth is completely filled with the hue, switch to another and apply the mineral spirit to the new cloth and keep rubbing.

If a yellow residue still shows on the new cloth, it means there is still wax present. Continue Scrubbing the floor with new cloth and mineral spirits until no more yellow residue appears on your cloth.

 Scrubbing With Steel Wool

Once the scrubbing cloth comes back clean, its time to go in with steel wool, soak a steel wool with some mineral spirit use it to scrub the area you have wiped clean with the cloth. You want to make sure you do this along with the wood grain.

Working with a steel wool makes it easier to get into the deep grooves of the hardwood floor. Also, the steel wool will remove wax that the cloth might have missed. After scrubbing, you want to wipe the area clean with a clean, dry cloth.

You want to repeat this two processes all over the remaining sections of the floor; you want to make sure you move in a direction pattern where it is easy to track where you have been and where needs to be worked on.

Wearing knee pads or a gardening cushion will help to protect your knees while you work.

Read: How to remove polyurethane from wood

Mopping With Hot Water

After stripping off the wax totally from the floor surface, you want to give it a final cleaning by mopping the floor surface with wood and hot water. After mopping, you want to make sure you thoroughly wipe the floor using a dry microfiber cloth to remove any standing water and moisture.

Leaving water on a hardwood floor can cause damage to it, like with the wax stripping, you want to work in sections with the mop also.

Applying Finish

You want to allow the wood to dry thoroughly before applying any finish products. It is crucial to ensure that all traces of wax are removed before sanding or applying finish products to your wood surface.

Waxy residue on the surface or in the pores of the wood will make it hard for the finish to stick to the floor and can make sanding difficult because it may clog the sandpaper.

If you are unsure if the floor is totally wax clean, you can do a quick test by rubbing a cloth with mineral oil over the surface and see if it comes up clean. If it does, it is safe to apply your finish.

Only applying your finish when you are certain all the wax has been removed will help to prevent wax buildup in the future.


If the wax is stubborn and doesn’t come off with mineral spirit, you can make use of a stripper specifically designed for wax.

You can also make use of commercial cleaners for wax stripping, but you want to make sure the cleaner is suitable for a hardwood floor, or you risk damaging the floor finish when you strip the wax.

Read: Best Wax for hardwood floor


The procedure on how to remove wax from hardwood floors is a quite tedious one, but it eventually pays off when you see the look of your floor being restored.

To prevent wax buildup, you can opt for polyurethane coating, which is even more durable than wax coating.

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