How to Remove Wax from Flooring

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Many floor types can be waxed in order to protect them, including vinyl, tile, laminate and hardwood. Over time, though, this wax can start to make floors look discolored, dull or dirty. Instead of replacing the whole floor, at home wax removal is a great, cost-effective option.

How to Remove Wax from Flooring
Image Credit: Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/GettyImages

What Is Flooring Wax?

Floors can be waxed for a variety of reasons, the protection being the main one. Wax can form a sealant over any type of floor, meaning scuffs, dents and spills will have a lessened effect. Wax can also give floors a polished, sheeny finish. However, this wax can start to discolor over time, making the floor beneath seem yellower or darker.

Why Would You Want to Remove Flooring Wax?

When flooring wax becomes old, it can start to discolor. This makes the floor beneath it look discolored, too: Typically yellowed, dulled and drab or overly dark and dingy. This can lead some people to believe that the floor needs replacing, which is an expensive and arduous process and may not be at all necessary. Removing flooring wax can be done with a commercial product, but an effective and less harsh wax remover can be made at home, too.

How Can You Remove Wax From Flooring?

Removing wax from a hardwood floor can be done using just vinegar, cream of tartar and warm water. This solution is gentle so as to not damage the floor below. However, because it's totally chemical free, the process can be more time consuming and require more elbow grease.

First, mix your solution – 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of cream of tartar to 1 gallon of water. Although the mixture is all-natural, it can be a little harsh on the skin, so wearing rubber gloves is advised. Apply the solution all over your hardwood floors using a sponge. This will soften the wax.

Once the wax is softened, it can be removed. This should be done with a scrub brush. Be careful not to go too hard, though, as this can damage the wood. If you feel the need to apply too much pressure, just repeat the soaking and scrubbing process. Once you're satisfied, use warm water to mop the floor and remove any traces of your vinegar solution.

For vinyl or laminate flooring, you'll need to use something stronger. Mix half a cup of ammonia and a cup of laundry detergent with a gallon of warm water. You must make sure there is no bleach in the laundry detergent or the immediate vicinity as ammonia and bleach combine to make a poisonous gas. Even more so than with the vinegar solution, it's essential you wear rubber gloves.

Using a mop, apply this solution across the floor. Next, using a firmer scrubbing brush or a fine steel wool pad, use the solution to remove the wax. Finally, thoroughly mop the floor to remove any of your solution. You may want to do this a few times to ensure the ammonia is fully removed in case you want to use bleach again in the future.

You can then either apply your new coat of wax or enjoy your new, wax-free floors.


Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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