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Floor Wax Remover—How to Strip Wax Off Hardwood Floors

Are you trying to use wax to strengthen a penetrating oil finish on your hardwood floor? Or are you enhancing a floor finish?

Whatever be the case, you won’t be able to avoid the need for stripping the wax. The wax will never harden; some will turn yellow with time, and above all, some will invite microscopic dust particles.

So, what should be done in such a scenario? How can you strip the wax from your hardwood floor? Thankfully, our guide here has you covered.

There are various floor wax removers available on the market. However, it’s recommended to use mineral spirits. There are other less toxic alternatives too, but they require water—something that’s not good for your hardwood floor.


floor wax remover

Step One: Get a Solvent!

Before you try to remove floor wax, you should know about its ingredients. There are many different types of wax available. However, most of them contain a mixture of carnauba and paraffin in the solvent.

Whenever you apply floor wax, the wax coating remains while the solvent evaporates. The wax remains soft and uncured, which means you can scrape it off with the help of a sharp blade. However, if you’re planning to use this method, it will not only be time consuming, but it also has a high chance of damaging your floor finish.

As a better alternative, you can redissolve wax in the solvent and later wipe it off easily. Depending on the kind of floor wax you’re removing, you’ll need to purchase its required solvent to use this method.


How Can You Dissolve Wax?

It’s best to get the solvent that had dissolved the original floor wax in the first place. This solvent is usually mineral spirits, as it gives a characteristic odor to most of the wax products.

Other alternatives are lacquer thinner and acetone, but be cautious using these. These solvents may even remove the finish of your flooring, and you wouldn’t want that, right?

You may also try using hot water with ammonia, vinegar, washing powder, or any other similar type of cleaning powder. However, no flooring manufacturer will advise you to go with this option as leaving hot water on your floor will invite the water to seep through the cracks, swell the wood and ultimately damage your wood floor.

Considering all these options, mineral spirits seem to be the best and the safest one. So, how can you use it as a floor wax remover? Let’s find out.


finished hardwood floor

Removing Wax from a Hardwood Floor 

Wax removal is different from other floor cleaning jobs where you may consider going to a store and getting a specific tool or solution that eliminates the hard work.

Wax removal will take some time, so pick a free weekend, set aside an afternoon, and find a good pair of knee pads before you begin. Make sure the floor is properly cleaned and vacuumed (possibly using a steam cleaner if it seems extra dirty).

The step-by-step process of removing wax includes the following:

Step 1: Fill a Spray Bottle with Mineral Spirits

Take any spray bottle (even a plastic condiment squirt bottle like a ketchup bottle will work here!) and fill it with mineral spirits.

This product is not actually odorless, so be careful that your room is properly ventilated before you begin. It’s best to use a respirator here, especially if you’re sensitive to volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Step 2: Spray the Solvent Along the Floor

Once you have filled the bottle, start spraying the mineral spirits along the wooden floor.

Ensure that you’ve properly moistened the cracks between the boards (especially when you need to strip off the wax from these cracks). Try to moisten around three to four boards at a time, while maintaining a one-foot distance.

Step 3: Scrub the Floor Area

After spraying the mineral spirits on the required floor area, start scrubbing it immediately while the solvent is wet. You may use a scrub brush or your normal kitchen scrubber here. Alternatively, you may also consider using 0000 steel wool.

This process will loosen the wax. Once it does, remove the rest of the wax with a cloth.

Step 4: Wet the Area, Scrub and Wipe off the Solvent

Once you’ve finished, check the floor again. If you see more wax residue, repeat the process.

Continue moistening the area while repeating the process till you see the wax residue or till a clean rag shows no discoloration. Once you’re successful in stripping the wax layer off that particular spot, move on to the next section and repeat the same process.

Following this process will take some time, but it will also remove the wax from the floor without causing any damage to it.

If you want this job to be easier and less tiring, you can consider using a commercial floor wax remover. However, it’s advisable to read the label and care instructions before using them.

Most of these removers are meant for linoleum, vinyl, or tile, or laminate floor, not hardwood so finding a remover that’s hardwood friendly is important. If not, you’ll be at risk of damaging your hardwood floor finish while stripping the wax.

In Conclusion

floor wax remover


Stripping wax from your floor is not difficult, but the process and risk level can vary depending on the floor type.

While there are many ready-made products available to strip wax off floor types like vinyl and tiles, removing it from a hardwood floor can be intimidating and time consuming.

To remove the wax and also retain the finish of your hardwood floor, it’s best to use the above-mentioned process as it’s both safe and efficient. Don’t use hot water or strong solvents as these can damage your floor finish.

Do you have an alternative way to strip wax off a hardwood floor without damaging its finish? Let us know in the comments.