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How To Clean Unfinished Wood Floors: 5 Effective Ways (2024)

Your unfinished wooden floors require extra attention. As there is no sealer to protect the surface, it can get damaged by the commonly available cleaners.

One of the best ways to clean unfinished floors would be vacuuming the surface and then using specific cleaning solutions that we will mention later.

Keep reading as we go through a detailed guide with 5 different cleaning methods on how to clean unfinished wood floors in record time!

📝 The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Clean Unfinished Wood Floors

Main Cleaning MaterialEffectivenessDifficultyStepsThings to Note
Vinegar Very effective. Fairly easy. Prepare a low-concentration vinegar solution to mop the floor while drying off excess moisture.Don’t use more or less than 1 gallon of water for the solution.
Mineral spiritsVery effective.Not easy.Spray the spirit on the floor and rub it using a soft cloth. Wipe the excess with the help of a clean microfiber cloth. Allow it to air dry.Open windows and doors as it is toxic if inhaled. It is also highly flammable.
Murphy’s oil soapModerately Effective.Fairly easyDilute a tbsp of oil in half a gallon of warm water and mop one section at a time. Dry each section immediately.You can buy the diluted version for faster cleaning.
TSP Effective for spot cleaning.Fairly easyDissolve a half cup of TSP in about 2 gallons of hot water. Mop the wood floor and don’t leave any excess water.TSP is very effective for removing stains. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the stains gently.
Sandpaper Best to use it before staining wood.EasyUse fine sandpaper gently to sand the area with a stain. Use a soft-bristled broom to vacuum the area afterward.It is especially useful before
Also Read: Can Fabuloso Be Used on Wood?

💎 Mineral Spirit

The mineral spirit is derived from petroleum. It is a flammable liquid that is highly effective in cleaning tough stains from wood. 

Why Use This Method?

Using mineral spirits will thoroughly clean your flooring, including tough stains. It is a useful method, but mind you, the mineral spirit is a highly flammable liquid whose toxic fumes could cause death when inhaled (not to worry if you wear a respirator mask).

We recommend using this method specifically to clean stubborn stains and not for routine cleaning. 

Things to Do Before Cleaning:

Luckily, you don’t need to prepare a mineral spirit solution for the cleaning. All you will need to do is follow these steps before you start cleaning:

  • Open all the doors and windows of the room.
  • Don a respirator, as inhaling mineral spirit can be harmful.
  • Have clean rags at your disposal.

Steps to Clean Unfinished Wood Flooring:

Once you have ensured proper ventilation and have worn a respirator, it’s time to start cleaning.

  • Broom the floor clean of any dust and dirt. You can also dust mop or use a vacuum with some dedicated hard floor setting suitable to the need (like the ‘bare floors’ setting on several commonly available vacuums).
  • Spray small amounts of the mineral spirit on the floor (better to have a spray bottle for this).
  • Gently start rubbing the floor using a smooth cloth (like a microfiber cloth).
  • Remove any excess moisture from the floor. 
  • Leave whatever could not be absorbed to air dry.

Things to note 

It is absolutely necessary to use a respirator. Mineral spirit evaporates even at room temperature, and that too quite fast. Also, open every door and window of the room for proper ventilation. The spirit is highly flammable, so keep it away from fire and hot objects.

Also, using a spray bottle is recommended for your ease.

Also Read: Why Your Hardwood Floors Feel Sticky 

💧 Vinegar

Vinegar is a non-toxic, 100% eco-friendly cleaning solution for untreated wood floors. It has proven to be highly effective for routine cleaning.

Why Use This Method?

Using vinegar is highly effective at removing the seated stubborn dirt and debris. 

Also, vinegar is an excellent pest repellent and a budget-friendly option to safely clean your unfinished hardwood floors.

Things to Do Before Cleaning:

Before you jump right to cleaning, you should first know how to prepare the vinegar solution. A concentrated solution can give a bit of a nasty odor. Make the solution perfectly balanced to get the best results:

  • Heat one gallon of water. It should only be slightly warm.
  • Add a cup of plain white vinegar to it and mix well.
  • You can increase or decrease the amount of solution as long as you maintain this ratio, about 60 grams of vinegar per liter of water.

That’s all! It’s time to clean now.

How To Clean Unsealed or Unfinished Wood Floors:

To clean unsealed wood floors, follow these simple steps:

  • Remove any rugs and objects before you get started.
  • Broom the floor or dust mop it. It should be free of and dust and debris to let the solution work effectively on the layer of the flooring itself.
  • Use a mop to apply the solution to the floor.
  • Do not use the solution excessively, as it will leave unnecessary residue on the floor (remember, we are dealing with wood).
  • Wipe off excess solution, if any.
  • Leave the floor to air dry.

Things to note:

While vinegar is highly effective for cleaning unfinished wood floors, it also has a strong odor. So if you go below the specified ratio, it could leave behind a bit of smell.

Also Read: 3 Places To Dump Mop Water 

🧼 Murphy’s oil soap

If you don’t like spending much time cleaning or have a busy schedule, murphy’s oil soap might just be what you are looking for. You can thoroughly clean your untreated floors quickly and easily! 

Why Use This Method?

The product is safe to use and can be directly applied to the floor in its diluted variant. Its availability in diluted and concentrated variants gives it an edge over the other cleaners.

Cherry on the cake, you can buy the oil soap solution at a dirt-cheap price!

Things to Do Before Cleaning:

If you happen to buy the concentrated formula of the oil soap, you will need to make a diluted cleaning solution. To make the solution:

  • Fill a clean bucket with half a gallon of warm water.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil soap and mix well. (The ratio of oil soap to water is about 7.9 grams per liter of water).
  • Grab dry clean clothes along with a mop and a broom.

Pro Tip:

If you are running short of time, you can buy the diluted Murphy’s oil soap solution from offline or online stores.

It’s time to clean!

Steps to Clean Unfinished Flooring:

To clean your unfinished wooden flooring, you can follow these simple steps:

  • Apply the solution to small sections at a time using a mop.
  • Dry the section just as you finish with it before moving to the next section of flooring.
  • Repeat until you have mopped the entire floor.
  • In case any residue is left behind, use a diluted solution of Borax by mixing ¼ cup of Borax in a gallon of water (or maintain the same ratio for different quantities).
  • If you use the Borax solution, apply it to small sections at a time and dry it before moving on to the next section.
  • Wipe the floor dry with a clean cloth.

Things to note:

The product is available in 2 variants, one being a concentrated formula while the other being an already diluted solution that you can use directly. Choose according to your needs, or grab both so that you can switch between them.

Many consumers prefer Murphy’s oil soap to other harsh chemicals like mineral spirit and TSP. 

Also Read: 5 Ways To Clean Balcony Floor 

🧪 TSP (Trisodium phosphate)

Have a spot on your untreated wood floor?

You may use vinegar or Murphy’s oil solution, but Trisodium Phosphate is more reliable for stubborn stain cleaning. Have a spot on your floor that is giving you trouble? 

TSP can handle hard stains on unfinished wood but doesn’t harm the flooring in any way whatsoever. 

Things to Do Before Cleaning:

If you have TSP in powdered form, follow the simple steps below. You can skip to the next section if you have a liquid TSP cleaning solution. 

  • Heat 2 gallons of water until it’s hot. (not warm)
  • Dissolve about half a cup of TSP in it. (Or follow the ratio of 15.2 grams per liter)
  • Keep a dry, absorbent towel, a mop, and a broom at your disposal.

Steps to Clean Unfinished Floors:

Now it’s time to clean the floor!

  • Broom or vacuum the floor thoroughly.
  • If you just need to clean a small stained area, use a toothbrush and a few drops of TSP solution.
  • For cleaning large stains, use a bigger brush with not very rough bristles. A shoe polish brush can do the trick. Always scrub gently.
  • For cleaning the entire floor, use a mop. Don’t leave excess liquid on the floor.
  • Then damp mop the floor with fresh water.
  • Use a dry absorbent towel to wipe off excess water. The moisture should not seep into the flooring.

Things to note:

TSP does not harm wooden surfaces, but using a vinegar solution or Murphy’s oil soap as a daily cleaning agent is a better option. 

Reason? They are milder as compared to TSP. TSP is better when deep cleaning the wooden floor or removing a stubborn stain.

Also Read: Tutorial To Clean Ash Stains From Carpets 

⌛ Sandpaper

Using fine sandpaper is a reasonable option to deal with floor stains. Gently sanding the stain and thoroughly removing all the dust (using a vacuum cleaner preferred) is a foolproof plan in most cases.

Why Use This Method?

The sandpaper method is easy to implement and effective on floor dirt. 

Also, it plays a vital role in staining wood. It is the most crucial part of the cleaning process, as the quality of the work done while sanding could determine the final output.

Things to Do Before Cleaning:

Sanding is often done before wood staining. Wood staining is the process of applying a special paint to the floor to seal off the pores of the wooden surface and preserve its grain.

You must follow these steps before you actually stain the wood or sand a spot on the floor:

  • Firstly, broom the dust off the floor or static dust mop. You can also vacuum the dust and dirt. Just be sure the dirt is removed thoroughly.
  • The next step would be to remove any coating that may already be there, like wax or oil (not applicable for unfinished and untreated wood).
  • As you are done with it all, prepare with a vacuum cleaner or a broom and fine-grain sandpaper.

Steps to Clean Unfinished Floors:

Follow these simple silly steps to remove stains from the floors:

  • To remove a small stain off the floor, gently sand the spot.
  • Once the stain is removed, vacuum thoroughly or use a broom. Don’t leave any residue behind.

Things to note:

Sanding is not a method to be used often. It can create uneven spots on the surface. It could also leave behind splinters.

Sanding is usually done before staining. You need to be careful throughout the process. Staining highlights unevenness, so ensure that you are sanding the flooring evenly.

✌️ How To Make Unfinished Wood Floors Shine Like New?

Even without the seal, you can still make your unfinished wood floor shine. You can achieve it by using oil or wax. Here’s how:

1️⃣ Treating Unfinished Wood Floors With Oil

Treating unfinished wooden floors with natural oils like linseed or jojoba or olive oil can add a great natural shine. They also help you remove the stubborn residual dirt and debris that is stuck to the floor. 

You will need a soft cloth to apply the oil to the floor. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes. Then, gently mop the floor using a dry mop to remove the remaining dirt and grease.

2️⃣ Applying Wax to the Floor:

While using wax to make your floors shine, the first thing to pay attention to will be the type of wax you buy. A waterless and petroleum-based wax will be perfect. 

Use a soft cloth to apply the wax and leave it to dry for about 30 minutes. Buff the floor with a clean cloth afterward. 

🎯 5 Smart Tips To Protect And Maintain Unfinished Wood Floors

An unfinished wooden floor is beautiful because of its natural look, and here are some simple yet brilliant tips you should implement in your regular maintenance routine:

  • Never apply excess water and harsh cleaning agents on your delicate wood floor. 
  • Rubbing oil or wax on the floor is recommended to make the floor shine. It will also help loosen stubborn dirt and grease so you can easily mop it off.
  • To remove stains, using Trisodium phosphate or mineral spirit is recommended. But sometimes, one fine sandpaper can do a better job.
  • In every method for cleaning an unfinished floor, start with dirt removal through vacuum cleaners or brooms. It would be best to have a dirt-free floor before using vinegar, mineral spirit, or TSP.
  • In case you use sandpaper, don’t use it excessively on the same portion. Also, keep in mind that you are dealing with wood. It will get scratched if you use sandpaper quite often.

💡 How To Clean Unfinished Wood Floors FAQs

How to tell if your wood floor is finished or not?

An unfinished wood floor comprises raw materials put together as planks. While finished wood flooring will have a sealer-like polyurethane, finished wood floors generally have more of a shiny look. 

To be sure, place a few water drops on the spot on your floor and wait for 3 minutes. If the water seeps, the floor has an untreated and unfinished surface. On finished floors, the droplet will sit on like a bead.

How to mop an unfinished wood floor?

For mopping an unfinished floor:

a. Use a soft, damp cloth or microfiber mop.

b. Avoid excess water as it can damage the wood.

c. Once you have mopped, use a dry cloth to absorb excess water.

How often to vacuum clean unfinished wood floors?

It is best to vacuum your unsealed wood floors at least once a week. This keeps the dirt and dust away because they could scratch the floor’s surface.

Can I steam mop unfinished wooden floors?

Steam mopping an unfinished wood floor is not recommended, as there is no sealer on the surface. It’s easy for the steam to seep deep inside, and once condensed, it becomes water. Water is wood’s enemy; it can cause permanent damage to the floor in the long run.

Is unfinished wood flooring worth it?

It largely depends on your personal preference. That said, unfinished wood floorings have some advantages over wood flooring. 

First of all, you are provided with a wider range of options and colors. Some people also like to DIY the flooring themselves and buy unfinished planks and other raw material. This gives you more freedom and choices. You can also apply a sealer later on unfinished wood flooring, which is a convenient option.

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