Cleaning Unfinished Wood Floors With Mineral Spirits

Your hardwood floor looks beautiful. It’s natural. It’s warm. And it makes your whole home feel inviting. But the stains keep piling up. Every bit of moisture dropped on the floor sinks into the untreated wood and leaves a mark.

To restore your floors to their former glory, reach for the mineral spirits and go to work.


Before you apply anything to your floor, you want to make sure you’ve gotten as much of the dust and dirt away from it as possible.

Sweeping with a broom or static dust mop is the best way to get all those little dust bunnies away from your precious wood.

Vacuums also work, if you’re certain you’ve got a dedicated hardwood floor setting. Without one, your vacuum could scratch your floor even before you’ve started cleaning it. Once the floor is nice and dust-free, it’s time to gather your cleaning supplies. You’ll need:

  • Soft scrubbing pads or cloths (that you don’t mind getting really dirty)
  • Clean, white cloths for sopping up excess (that you don’t mind never using again)
  • A respirator or paint mask
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Knee pads (optional)
  • And, of course, mineral spirits

In case you’re unfamiliar, mineral spirits are a type of solvent used by painters for decades to clean brushes. They have all sorts of uses throughout manufacturing, machinery, and various industries. They’re also known as white spirits. And, while they’re safer than many of their fellow petroleum distillates and turpentine, they can still be hazardous.

Safety First

This is where the respirator comes in. Mineral spirits can cause light-headedness and toxicity. So it’s always important to keep the room very well ventilated by opening windows and turning on ventilation systems.

It is also extremely flammable, so avoid any open flames or sparks.

Wear gloves whenever handling mineral spirits, since they can irritate skin. If you do get some on you, wash the area well with soap and water. If you become nauseated or dizzy at any point, get away from the fumes immediately.

Since you’ll be crawling on the floor for this next part, if your knees start to hurt, put on the knee pads.

Cleaning Your Floor

Now that we know what we’re using and how to use it safely, we’ll get started cleaning. You can spray the mineral spirits directly onto the floor, or dampen your pad or cloth before applying it to the floor.

Once you have it applied, rub it into the floor with your pad or cloth, making sure the pad or cloth you’ve chosen isn’t too abrasive on the wood’s surface.

You should notice that it will begin to remove any stains or wax that have built up on your floor. Once they’ve done their job you can easily wipe up the excess with clean, white cloths before letting the area air dry.


Now that you’ve cleaned the floor, you’re left with a mess of used pads or rags. We already know they’re flammable, so you have to be careful how to dispose of them.

The safest method is to place them into a sealable, metal container like a paint can and fill it with water. Then you can seal the lid and dispose of the material at your local hazardous waste site.

Another option is to hang the cloths somewhere open where the harmful chemicals can evaporate and the fumes won’t build up then hand wash them with detergent.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that solvents can be dangerous, and to always use proper precautions.

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