Roxanne asked: How do I remove floor wax from wood? I set down a bottle of Mop and Glow floor wax on a wood table and didn’t realize it had dripped and left a mark, which has since dried. I don’t want to damage the table. Please help.
The best time to remove a floor wax spill from a finished wood surface is when it’s still wet. If you can catch it early, your chances of cleaning it up without leaving a trace are excellent. Even if the spill has completely dried, however, you’ll probably meet some success with the following method.
The Ammonia Method
This method is the easiest and the most commonly recommended. However, ammonia is a hazardous chemical, so be sure to use caution whenever working with it by wearing gloves and ventilating the area well. For more ammonia safety information, see Wikipedia. This method can be used on either floors or furniture.
You Will Need:
- Soft cloths
- Mild detergent
- Bowl or bucket
- Furniture polish
Steps to Remove the Stain:
- Fill a bucket with 1 quart (4 cups) or water.
- Mix enough of the mild detergent into the water to create a few suds. A dish liquid that does not contain bleach is a good choice.
- Add 1/4 cup of ammonia. Stir it into the mixture.
- Dip a cloth into the solution. Wring it out so that it’s damp, but not soaked. You don’t want it dripping wet because the excess moisture might be too much for your wood surface.
- Gently rub the cloth over the wax spot in one direction only; you want to wipe the wax off the surface. Apply more pressure as needed until it wipes clean. If cleaning a large area like a floor, work in small sections at a time.
- When you have finished with one section, wet a second cloth with plain water and use it to remove any remaining cleaning solution.
- Finish that section by drying with a clean, dry cloth. Make sure you remove all moisture from the wood surface. Do this before moving on to the next section.
- Once you have removed all of the wax, apply a coat of polish to protect furniture. Do NOT apply furniture polish to wooden floors or surfaces you will walk on as it will be very slippery and hazardous.
The Vinegar Method
If you don’t have ammonia or if you want to avoid the fumes, white vinegar can be used instead. This method is a bit more difficult and care must be taken to avoid scratching the wood, however it can be done. This method can be used on either floors or furniture.
You Will Need:
- A hair dryer
- A plastic scraper
- A bucket
- White vinegar
- A cloth
Steps to Remove the Wax:
- Use a hair dryer to soften a section of the wax that you want to remove. It is easiest to work in two foot long rectangular sections. Hold the hair dryer several inches away; you don’t want the wood to get so hot that it creates a stain you have to remove later (like from a hot pizza box). After a couple of minutes, the wax should be softer and easier to remove. This step isn’t necessary, it just makes the next step easier.
- Use a plastic scraper to carefully scrape off the softened wax.
- If you are working with a large area, such as a floor, it is easiest to repeate the two steps above in sections across the entire floor before moving on to the next step.
- Once you have removed as much wax as you can, mix one cup of white vinegar in 1/2 gallon of water.
- Dip a cloth in the mixture, then wring it out so it is only damp, not dripping. You want to use as little moisture as possible while still being effective. If working on a floor or other large area, wrap the cloth around a sponge mop head.
- Wipe the damp cloth over the floor in one direction only; do not wipe back and forth as you would for regular cleaning or mopping. You want to wipe off the remaining wax with the cloth; wiping back and forth would just smear it around. Do this in a small section of the floor at a time.
- Once you have wiped off the wax from one section, rub a dry towel over the area to soak up any moisture. It is best not to let wood sit with moisture on it for long as it can cause damage.
- Wash the cloth to remove the wax that you just gather up. If doing this on a large area, you can use the cleaning cloths/rags from a hardware store that come in a pack of 10 or more for only a few dollars to avoid washing the cloth each time.
Additional Tips and Advice
- It’s always a good idea to test the solution on the wood surface in a hidden spot before you begin. Apply it, let it sit momentarily, then wipe dry.
- For stubborn spots, you can rub them gently with very fine grade 000 steel wool following the grain of the wood. Do not rub in circles. You run the risk of lightly scratching the surface, but it’s possible to hide these by applying a coat of polish or wax (as appropriate) to protect the finish once the stain has been removed. Perform this step at your own risk (i.e. be very careful!)