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How do you remove wax from a wood floor?

It’s great to relax at the end of the day, light a candle or two, put on some gentle music, relax and unwind. It is all too easy to accidentally spill candle wax on a wood floor. Don’t panic, wax can be removed from wood without damaging the floor.

Three methods

There are three main methods of removing wax. All are effective, so use the one that seems easiest or where you have the necessary equipment and substances. If one method does not work, try an alternative one.

Method 1

Start by mopping the floor using warm water. Be careful not to use excessive water as this is not good for wood. Mopping the floor removes dirt or debris.

Pour a generous amount of mineral spirits onto the area that has the wax.

Scrub the floor with a clean cloth or mop. You may need to rub the wax vigorously to get it off. If any wax remains, use fine steel wool to scrub the area along the grain. Don’t use coarse steel wool as this could scratch the floor.

Finish by wiping with a dry, clean cloth.

Method 2

Hold an ice cube on top of the wax for about a minute until the wax is hard. Use a credit card or plastic ruler to scrape the wax off. Start at one side and slowly move across the wax stain.

Finally, spread cream furniture polish on the area and rub away any residues.

Method 3

Scrape away excess wax with a spoon or your fingers, being careful not to scratch the wood.

Apply a medium-heat hairdryer to the affected area. This will soften the wax enough for you to wipe it up with a clean cloth.

Can I stop candles dripping?

Ideally, candles would be drip-free and not spill onto the floor in the first place.

Luckily, there is a method to achieve this: put salt into warm water until it no longer dissolves. Immerse the candles in the water for two hours, then remove and dry.

Alternatively, store candles in the freezer. After lighting, they should last for hours before dripping.

Remove wax from candle holders before lighting a candle. This will help prevent new wax dripping off the candle holder. You can also burn candles on a large plate or dishes so any spilt wax does not go onto the floor.

Electric candles look realistic and never drip wax, but many prefer real wax candles that burn essential oils.

Is it safe to use candles?

Candles are great for creating a relaxing atmosphere, but there are dangers to using them. They should not be left unattended or near small children, except perhaps birthday cake candles used with adult supervision.

Wax dripping on wood floors should be avoided. Hot wax won’t set the floor on fire and can be removed, but on human skin can cause serious burns.

Provided you are careful around candles, they are safe to use.

How is excessive floor wax removed?

Modern wood floors are coated with a protective layer of polyurethane or acrylic that helps prevent damage. Before the 1970s, hardwood floors were finished with a layer of wax. Owners of these floors often refinish with a new coat of wax.

Non-experts may use too much wax. If the correct amount of wax used, it is absorbed by the wood, but if too much wax is applied, any excess will remain on the surface, making the wood sticky to walk on.

Fortunately, excessive floor wax can be removed. To do this, you will need mineral spirits, microfiber cloths, a mop and bucket and fine steel wool. For personal protection, use kneepads or cushions, and rubber gloves.

It is best to work in small sections of about four square feet that can easily be reached from one position. Put mineral spirits on a microfiber cloth and rub into the wax until the wax comes up onto the cloth. You will have to use several sections of the cloth and several cloths, as they will soon become full of wax. After rubbing a section of floor, if the cloth remains clean, all the wax has been removed.

After the wax has been removed from a section, moisten a fine steel pad with mineral spirits and rub over the floor section, going along the grain.

Repeat the above process with all sections of the floor. After all the wax has been removed, do a final clean with a mop and hot water. Don’t use too much water, and dry with a microfibre cloth or mop.

You can then apply a fresh coat of wax, but not too much!

Instead of waxing the wood, you may decide to replace the wax with a polyurethane protective layer, as this can be more effective than wax. Use the above method to strip the old wax completely. Then apply a protective polyurethane coat. This can be a long job, so, if possible, recruit a friend or family member to help.

Can wax be removed professionally?

Professional floor cleaners will remove wax, although if it’s just a patch, it may simply be time for a thorough clean, which includes scrubbing, hand cleaning and recoating the wood with a protective layer.

Dirt and debris can penetrate the floorboards and the joins between boards. Deep cleaning can remove any harmful substances.

If the floor has extensive wear or scratches, you can have it professionally re-sanded, and refinished with a protective layer. This will leave the floor looking like new again.

What about regular cleaning?

Don’t wait until wax is dripped onto the floor before cleaning it, as regular floor cleaning is needed. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of hygiene in the home. Viruses, bacteria allergens can live on wood for at several hours or more. They are easily removed by a quick vacuum or brush followed by a mop.

That’s why regular cleaning should be done at all times, not just during a pandemic.

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