How to Remove Wax Buildup on Hardwood Floors

Since hardwood floors are prone to moisture impact, they’re often coated with wax to add a protective layer. The wax coating acts as a shield, protecting your hardwood floor from water damage and extending the useful life of the flooring. However, while the wax coating protects the hardwood flooring, it’s vulnerable to the build of candle wax or residual wax. Residual wax is simply the wax left after floor cleanings, while candle wax is the normal candle wax drips that melt on your hardwood flooring. Whichever type of wax, here are simple ways on how to remove wax buildup on hardwood floors.

Essentials for Completing a Wax Removal Project

Buildup wax removal isn’t naturally a complicated process. Therefore, you don’t necessarily have to invest in premium and expensive tools and supplies. Listed here are the basic tools and supplies you need to handle any wax buildup removal project:

  • Bucket and mop
  • Rubber gloves
  • Steel wool
  • Dustpan and broom
  • Knee cushion and knee pads
  • Mineral spirits
  • Microfiber cloth

Effective Methods of Removing Waxy Layers:

Dust off and mop your hardwood floor

The wax particles will likely be ingrained beneath a loose layer of debris, dust, and dirt. You have to start by removing all these dirt particles. Use your broom to sweep clean all the dirt particles on the surface of your hardwood flooring. Wear your rubber gloves, and then mop the surface clean. You can use warm water when mopping to easily remove all residual grimes found on top of your wood surface. By the way, if you use Nature’s Miracle for your floor, find out if it’s safe to use here.

Remove the less stubborn wax stains with mineral spirits

Soak your microfiber cloth in the mineral spirits and use it to remove waxing residuals on your hardwood surface. You should rub the microfiber cloth following the flow of wood grains. You might want to start by rubbing a small section of your hardwood floor, let’s say like a 3-square foot area. Confirm that every wax content has been eliminated before moving into another section.

Keep an eye on the microfiber cloth, and make sure to change to a cleaner part of the cloth when one section gets soiled. You have to keep rubbing the hardwood floor until the damped section of the microfiber cloth looks clean. The more you keep rubbing the floor, the more the fiber cloth will turn yellow. After a session of rubbing hardwood flooring, if the microfiber comes out clean, you should know that the wax has vanished and the hardwood floor has been cleaned off any wax content.

Rub clean the floor using mineral spirits and 000 steel wool

After you’ve rubbed clean the first hardwood floor section, you should rub it clean using mineral spirits and 000 steel wool. Soak a part of the steel wool in mineral spirits and use it to rub the hardwood flooring. As you work over the flooring with the steel wool and mineral spirits, follow the wood grains.

Dampen all cracks on the floorboards to liquefy any wax stuck in there. Once the wax has liquefied, rub it off using a rag. 000 steel wool is highly recommended because of its efficacy in removing waxy residuals in different parts of hardwood floors.

Rub clean other sections

Once you’re satisfied the section of hardwood floor has been cleaned of the ingrained wax layer, move to other areas of the flooring. You want to follow the steps we outlined above, ensuring you rub every remaining section thoroughly. Remember to rub and clean the floor in the direction of the wood grains. Start by rubbing with a microfiber cloth and mineral spirits before you rubber it with the steep wool pad.

To have an easy time differentiating sections that have been cleaned from those requiring cleaning, you may want to start from one corner towards another corner. You can also start from the far area of the floor towards the main door. As you rub to clean your hardwood, you might want to use thick knee or gardening cushion pads to keep your shins and knees safe.

Mop your clean flooring with hot water

After you’ve rubbed off all the wax from your hardwood floor, you will then need to wash any remaining residues off. Carefully mop the hardwood flooring clean with hot water.  Make sure to reach every part of the hardwood flooring while mopping. After you’re done mopping, you should rinse off any residual moisture with a rag to leave your flooring dry. You might want to use a microfiber cloth to mop the hardwood surface for better results.

Refinish your hardwood flooring

After some hours, the floor will be dry and ready for use. However, remember to refinish the floor to give it a shiny look. You can start by applying a new layer of wax. Stick to all instructions as outlined by the manufacturer when applying the wax to minimize mistakes.  After the wax has dried up, you can add another coat of polyurethane to reinforce the wax coating and make your hardwood flooring stronger and more durable.

Not every wax or polyurethane product can give you the quality of hardwood floor finish you desire. Some products aren’t reliable and don’t meet set quality standards. Therefore, learn to take your time when choosing a floor finishing product.

NB: Never add a polyurethane layer to your hardwood flooring until you fully remove all buildup wax. If you’re not convinced, use mineral oil and a microfiber cloth to rub the hardwood floor surface to be sure there aren’t any


Removing wax buildup on your hardwood flooring isn’t going to be a quick and easy process as you think of it. A wax buildup removal project can take you several hours of hard work. However, provided you have the right supplies and equipment, you’re sure to revamp your hardwood, giving it a fresh new look in a matter of hours. Just ensure you don’t use the wrong supplies. 

In addition, ensure you rub the wood surfaces in the direction of the wood grains to get a cleaner and more attractive look. That’s how to remove wax buildup on hardwood floors