Removing Wax from Floors

How to Remove Old Wax from Floors

Many of today’s hard-surface floor materials, with few exceptions, do not require waxing to make them shine.

Vinyl and ceramic or linoleum tiles are more commonly used over the old sheet linoleum that most of us grew up with. The surface of linoleum dulls with wear and requires frequently waxing and buffing to maintain its shine.

As flooring ages, it’s a good idea to keep a shine on the surface to prevent additional wear – including tears – to the vinyl covering and scratches to tile surfaces.

Over time, wax builds up giving a yellow tint to the floor. New applications of wax only compounds the problem. You need to remove all traces of the old wax before applying fresh wax to the floor.

Tips for Removing Wax From Floors

Use caution in stripping old wax from your floors. Some stripping agents contain harsh chemicals that are not only harmful to breathe in, but will also damage the surfaces you are trying to clean and protect.

Always read product information carefully when purchasing commercial wax strippers.

Removing Yellow Wax Buildup and Stains From Vinyl

Gather your supplies. You will need:

  • Sponge mop with scrubber on the edge
  • A large plastic bucket – minimum 3 gallon size
  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 2 cups household ammonia
  • 1 cup powdered dishwasher soap (WITHOUT BLEACH!)
  • Old clean and dry bath towels or cleaning rags

Gently mix the solution until the powered dishwasher soap dissolves. Dip sponge mop in solution and flood an area of the vinyl flooring, then scrub gently.

Sponge up excess solution and move on to another section, flooding, scrubbing and sponging as you go. Some areas, such as along mop boards and corners, will need special attention and you may need to go over them a couple of times.

When you are satisfied, dry up the floor using the old towels or cleaning rags. Then rinse thoroughly with fresh warm water, using the sponge mop and the basic steps you used in removing the wax. Flood sections of the floor with water, scrub gently, then sponge dry.

Use more dry clean towels or rags to wipe up the rinse water. There should be no wax build-up left on your floor and, after thoroughly drying, it will be ready to receive a fresh coat of new wax.

Stripping Wax Buildup and Stains From Linoleum Tile

Gather your supplies. You will need:

  • Scrub brush
  • A large plastic bucket
  • 1 gallon white vinegar
  • 1 cup cream of tartar
  • Old clean and dry bath towels or cleaning rags

Gently mix the solution until the cream of tartar is completely dissolved. Then dip the scrub brush into the solution and apply to the linoleum with a gentle, rotating motion. Continue until the entire area as been covered. You may wish to “follow behind yourself” and wipe the areas as you scrub them with cleaning towels that have been dipped in warm water and wrung as dry as possible.

You may need to go over stubborn areas a few times until all of the old floor wax is removed.

Rinse thoroughly with fresh clean water, then dry up the floor.

Commercial Preparations For Built-Up Floor Wax Removal

There are a lot of great products on the market for specific flooring applications. Be sure to read the instructions carefully. If the packaging does not say it can be used on wood, don’t assume that it can be! If you have lovely hardwood floors, you can do severe damage by using even a tiny amount of commercial wax stripper.

We’ve had good luck with Simple Green, Trewax Instant Wax Stripper and Armstrong New Beginning Floor Stripper & Cleaner. As with most commercial products, Mrs. Clean only recommends the tried and true variety. Follow manufacturer’s instructions implicitly and use at your own risk.