How To Get Wax Residue Off Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a popular traditional flooring option because of its beauty and timeless feel.

A wax coating can help extend the life of your hardwood floors by creating a natural barrier that protects against moisture. This popular hardwood floor topcoat is a great choice, but when dirt and debris settle on it, it may fade.

How To Get Wax Residue Off Hardwood Floors

Waxing is something that should be done on a regular basis (as per manufacturer instructions). Over time, a natural build-up will accumulate, and to remove it, a thorough cleaning of the wood floor is required before it can be sealed or re-waxed.

The foggy wax build-up can be cleaned with a few simple chemicals, but it is a four-step process that takes time.

Here is the best way to remove wax residue from your hardwood floor.

You Will Need

  • Dustpan and brush or broom
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Bucket and mop
  • Mineral spirits
  • 0000 steel wool
  • Rubber gloves
  • Knee pads or knee cushion for comfort


Working on a little section of flooring at a time is the most manageable option when using this cleaning method, with a 4-foot by 4-foot area being the best size to use. Rubber gloves will keep your hands safe while you work so make sure you are wearing these or other hand protection.

Because peeling wax can be a dirty operation, it is also a good idea to wear old clothes.

Start by soaking a piece of the cloth in mineral spirits. Start to work the mineral spirits into the wax covering by rubbing in the same direction as the wood grain. As you rub the cloth, the wax will rise to the surface.

Once one cloth gets first, use another one so you are not just spreading the wax and first around the floor. As the wax wears off, the material turns a yellow color.

When the moist cloth comes up clean, the wax has been effectively cleaned off. Continue to remove all of the wax from the area with mineral spirits and a clean cloth.

Once the wax has come up on the cloth and the cloth has returned clean, it is time to move on to the next step. Wet a steel wool pad with the same mineral oil and wipe it over the same area of flooring, making sure to rub along the wood grain.

Steel wool may be easily worked into any deep grooves found in wood boards with a rich texture. This will get up any wax that has been hiding in nooks and crannies in the wood.

After the wax layer has been removed with mineral oil and both a cloth and a steel wool pad, move on to the next section of flooring. Make sure to keep track of where you’ve been and what flooring needs to be treated by following a logical path.

Use thick knee pads or a gardening cushion to protect your knees and shins while removing the wax from your hardwood flooring as you will spend a lot of time on your knees.

After the wax has been removed from the entire floor, give it a thorough cleaning by scrubbing the wood’s surface with hot water to remove any remaining wax residue.

Standing water can seriously harm the surface of hardwood floors, so any leftover water should be properly dried. it is a good idea to work in sections with a mop and a dry microfiber cloth on a dry mop to pick up any leftover water.

By following these steps you should be able to very easily remove the old wax from your hardwood floors.

Refinishing The Floors

Now that you have removed the old layer of wax, you will need to add a new one to keep your hardwood floors protected.

You must make sure that you allow for complete drying of the flooring before applying a new finish. Apply a new layer of wax to the flooring according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

How To Get Wax Residue Off Hardwood Floors

Make a note of how often you will need to reapply and put it on your calendar after you’re done so you know when the floor needs a little update.

After the wax has been removed, a polyurethane coating, which is more durable than a wax coating, can be applied. This may be a better and longer-lasting solution if you want to avoid wax build-up in the future.

Only apply a layer of polyurethane after you’ve removed all of the wax. If in doubt, wipe the surface with a mineral oil-soaked cloth and see if it comes up clean. If it does, then polyurethane can be applied safely.


Getting rid of years of wax build-up might be a hassle, but with a little elbow grease and a few simple products, your hardwood floors can be returned to their former glory. To make the process easier, you could get help from friends or family if that is possible.

Dividing a large space into smaller rooms and spreading the job out over multiple weekends is also a smart idea. Begin with a small, controllable space, such as a foyer or hallway, where you can easily test out this method.

Don’t forget to make use of the comfort items on the list of things you will need, such as the knee pads or cushion. This is a job that will most likely take you hours if you are doing it by yourself, and being on your knees for that long can become painful quickly. Remember to take regular breaks if you have to.