How to Clean Unfinished Wood Floors [5 Easy Ways]

There is a natural beauty to having unfinished wood floors in your home. The unhindered grain of the wood can be a part of your decor as much as any piece of art or furniture that you have on display. Like any other type of flooring, they do still need to be cleaned. This article is here to help you by detailing a number of ways to do that.

The options vary for cleaning unfinished wood floors range from specially formulated products like trisodium phosphate to items like vinegar and dish washing soap that you probably already have in your house. Applying them to your floors will clean them without damaging them.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to weigh the pros and cons of every option and decide what works best for you and your home. Let’s get right to cleaning!

how to clean unfinished wood floor

Benefits of Unfinished Wood Floors

If you’re still furnishing your home, you may be on the fence as to whether to use finished or unfinished floors. The truth is, going with unfinished wood floors has a lot of benefits. Here are just a few!

Variety of finishes

With wood flooring, you have a much wider range of types of wood and different finishes that you can choose.

Because wood floors that come in a finished format tend to be very uniform in size, color, and type of wood, you can be constrained to a floor that looks far less unique and eye-catching.

Uniqueness

Unfinished wood floors give you the ability to take any type of wood that you may like and have it cut to your size specifications.

You can even find exotic woods like Zebrawood or Nato wood that would never be offered in a finished form.

Affordability

Unfinished wood floors take less time and less labor, which means that the reduced cost ends up leaving you with extra money in your pocket. You can also get a higher grade of unfinished wood flooring for a comparable amount of money to finished, but lower grade, wood.

Matching

Unfinished wooden floors make it much easier to coordinate a design scheme. Wooden floors that have a painted finish can often end up not color coordinating in exactly the way you expected them to. By using unfinished floors, you take less of a risk.

Smoothness

One of the main downsides to finished wood floors is the fact that it is much easier to see flaws in the surface of the wood. Once the paint or your coating is applied, if you weren’t starting off with a perfect surface, you’ll immediately know it.

However, when it comes to unfinished wood floors, once you add in the coating or sealant over the surface, you’re golden. It will fill all of the uneven spots and blemishes. The end result will be an unfinished wood floor that is beautiful and smooth to the touch.

Drawbacks to Unfinished Wood Floors

There are a few downsides to having unfinished wood floors. Below is an explanation of what those might be so that you can judge for yourself and your own home which would be better for you.

Installation time

Pre-finished floors often have a shorter installation time than unfinished hardwood floors. This is due to the fact that unfinished versions have to be sanded once they are in place.

If you want a stain on your unfinished floors, that is an additional step that will take even more time. Prefinished floors come to you already sanded and stained.

Convenience

If you are in a time crunch or you don’t have a desire to specifically match things in your home or pick out what type of wood and size, then going with prefinished is a much more convenient option.

Uniformity

If you have bought all of your wood at the same time and from the same place, then every plank will have the exact same color and finish.

The same cannot be said if you are staining your unfinished wooden floors as you go.

Anti-scratch coating

While generally, it is true that scratches are more easily apparent on a prefinished wooden floor, some manufacturers of prefinished wood will sell them already coated with an anti-scratch coating. This will serve to help you protect the wooden floors.

Can You Clean Unfinished Hardwood Floor?

If you want unfinished wood floors but you’re currently asking yourself how to clean them, then look no further than this article! We are about to outline five fairly simple and very effective ways to keep your unfinished hardwood floors clean and beautiful.

Before we tell you how to clean unfinished wood floors, we’ll show you how to best prepare for the whole ordeal. Gather your supplies, read our guidelines, and then jump right in!

Supplies You’ll Need

There are a few things that you will most likely need no matter which method you use to clean unsealed wood floors.

Safety items: this includes gloves and protective eyewear. Some of the cleaning methods include using cleaning solutions with harsh chemicals.

Cleaning tools: a cleaning cloth (microfiber cloth or any clean lint-free cloth), a mop (dry mop or microfiber mop), a vacuum cleaner, and a broom. These are useful for both the cleaning solutions and also to prepare the area before cleaning.

Container items: bucket, spray bottle.

How to Prepare Unfinished Wood Floors Before Cleaning?

Before you use any of the methods listed below, especially those involving chemicals or fumes, there are some steps that are universally helpful.

Remove obstructions

A good first step in learning how to clean unfinished hardwood floors is to make sure that there are no large pieces of furniture on the dedicated hard floor setting.

Removing all obstructions before you do anything else will help you feel reassured that you can clean every inch of your unfinished hardwood floors.

Safety precautions

Depending on which cleaning method you use, you may need to have a few safety precautions in place. This becomes even more crucial if you have children or pets in your home.

With some of the harder chemical cleaning solutions, you will need gloves to protect your hands as well as safety glasses. You can also use a ventilating mask when dealing with things like mineral spirits.

Remove dirt

Begin your cleaning process with a soft-bristled broom or soft-bristled brushes to take as much of the larger pieces of dirt off of the surface as you can. The less dirt you deal with as you clean your unfinished wooden floors, the easier it will be!

When sweeping, make sure you are using a broom with as wide of a head as you can and sweep in quick motions across the floor.

Remove dust

Once you’ve swept up the larger pieces of dirt using a broom, you can use a vacuum cleaner to get another layer of dust off. This is particularly useful to do where furniture normally sits, or a part of the wooden floor where a pet that sheds may lie down.

Vacuum cleaners can also come with detachable heads that will allow you to check all of the nooks and crannies of the room. Switch between different attachments to make sure your unfinished wooden flooring is spotless before you proceed.

Spot test on your floors

Not every method will work on every floor. To preserve the beauty of your unfinished floors, you will want to make a small test batch of whatever cleaning solution you want to utilize.

Apply this test solution to a small section of your floor and leave for the amount of time dictated by the method you chose. Wipe and then rinse that section with a damp cloth. If the floor underneath looks clean and exactly as you wanted, proceed!

If it looks damaged or if the cleaning solution does not appear to be wiping away, you probably want to rethink using that method on the rest of your unfinished floors. Simply try one of our other options instead.

5 Best Ways to Clean Unfinished Wood Floors

We’ve gathered five of the best ways to clean your floors. Read on to pick the one that suits you the most!

Vinegar Solution

For this method used to clean unfinished wood floors, you will need white vinegar solution, a bucket, and a gallon of warm water.

Step 1

Heinz Cleaning Vinegar, 128 Fl Oz

You begin by making the cleaning solution. To do this, add a cup of white vinegar to the empty bucket you have ready. Once the vinegar is in the bucket, add a gallon of water. The water can be warm water or hot water, but should not be cold.

With your gloves and your safety glasses on, coat your mop with the cleaning solution by dipping it in the bucket and then wringing it out. You want the mop to be thoroughly soaked in the vinegar solution without being so drenched that it leaves excess liquid on the floor.

Next, you can proceed to clean unfinished wooden floors by moving the mop in a circular motion over them. Take care to make sure that you are cleaning in corners and smaller areas as well as the most trafficked parts of the unsealed wood floors.

Step 2

When you have finished mopping, let the floor surfaces completely dry before you attempt walking on them.

This method is popular because not only is it effective, but it is also safe. Vinegar will not harm pets or children. It is also not considered abrasive to those with allergies.

The only danger when cleaning with a vinegar solution is that it can be too acidic for some unfinished wood floors. To ensure that this cleaning method does not begin to erode the natural shine and wood grain, make sure that you do not leave it on for too long or use more than the suggested ratio of vinegar to water.

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

Savogran 10622 Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) 4.5lbs

Trisodium phosphate may have an intimidating sounding name, but it is a typical household cleaner that you can probably find at any retail location or online store that deals with flooring or wood floors.

It’s important to adhere to safety measures when using TSP. Because it is one of the cleaning methods that involve harsh chemicals, it can irritate your skin. Use gloves to avoid burns on your hands.

You will also need a few other cleaning products like a bucket, gloves, TSP detergent, and something to apply it with. You can choose a scrub brush or a cleaning soft pad for this purpose.

Step 1

Begin by combining the TSP with dish soap in your bucket. Use the ratio of one-fourth of a cup of TSP for every gallon of water that you use.

Stir thoroughly so that the ingredients are completely combined. If the TSP is not fully dissolved in the hot water, it may not clean the untreated wood as evenly.

Step 2

When you are certain that the materials have been combined as well as possible, dip the soft-bristled brush or soft cleaning pad you are using into the cleaning solution. Use it directly on the floor to gently scrub at any stains that you see.

TSP is one of the most effective cleaners when it comes to cleaning up stains that may be caused by things like grease, mildew, and mold.

Mineral Spirits

Sunnyside Corporation 80332 Low Odor Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner, Cleaner and Degreaser, Quart, 12 Pack

Mineral spirits are another common option used to clean a stained area of your untreated floors. It is one of the cleaning solutions that you can find at your local hardware store, and will both remove dirt and debris from the unfinished floor as well as remove stains that may have set in.

One of the drawbacks to using mineral spirits is the smell. Given that it is a strong chemical cleaning agent, you must ensure that your home is properly ventilated before using it. You can use fans as well as open any windows and doors in the room.

For the sake of safety, you will also want to keep children and pets away from the vicinity while you clean using mineral spirits. Please don’t forget to wear gloves and safety goggles when working with mineral spirits.

Step 1

Mineral spirits generally already come in a can with a spray nozzle or a spray bottle. If yours didn’t, you might want to purchase your own spray bottle, given that it is the easiest way to apply the mineral spirits to your unfinished wooden floors.

Spray a few drops of the cleaner onto a clean cloth or onto the hardwood floors directly. Using the lint-free cloth, treat the stained unfinished floors and then allow the spray to sit for approximately five minutes.

Step 2

Once the mineral spirits have had five minutes to sit on the floor, use a clean cloth to wipe away any solution that remains on the floor. Any deeply set debris or dirt should also be removed from the unsealed floor along with the solution.

You can now rinse the floors. Use a clean cloth to make sure there is no excess moisture once you are finished.

The most important thing to remember is not to let the mineral spirits remain on your flooring for too long. It is far better to start with less than you need and repeat the process a few times. If you apply too much all at once then your untreated wood floors could end up damaged!

Dishwashing Soap and Water

Dawn Dish Soap Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Refill, Original Scent, 56 Fl Oz (Pack of 2) - Packaging May Vary

A milder and safer way to clean your unfinished hardwood floors is to use a combination of dishwashing soap and water. While not as effective in terms of deep cleaning, this is the perfect thing to use on a wooden floor when you only have to deal with regular, daily messes and a normal amount of dirt. If you’re cleaning fairly often, you can use dish soap to clean unsealed wood floors.

Step 1

All you have to do for this cleaning process is to mix together a couple of tablespoons of dish soap with a gallon of water. You can then use a microfiber cloth, microfiber mop, or any other material you would use in wet cleaning methods.

Step 2

The cleaning solution will clear your floor of any debris, surface dirt, sticky substances, or grease that may be lingering on the surface of your unsealed hardwood floors. Once finished, just rinse it with clean water and ensure that your untreated floors are dry.

This is another cleaning method that you can use if you have pets or children you are concerned about. The dishwashing liquid and water combination is safe and won’t involve any toxic chemicals, harsh chemicals, or fumes, so it’s completely child-safe.

Ice

No, you didn’t misread—you can use some of the ice from your freezer as a cleaning agent!

While not suitable for cleaning unfinished wood on a daily basis, ice is still an extremely helpful tool in your deep cleaning arsenal. It’ll come in handy if you encounter gum, candle wax, or other gunk on your unfinished wooden floors.

The materials needed for this method of cleaning unfinished wood are simple. It only requires ice, a towel/microfiber cloth, and a plastic bag. If you’re using a towel, it should be fairly thin.

Step 1

Put the ice in the plastic bag, then place the bag on top of the chewing gum or other substance that you are trying to remove. Leave it in place for ten minutes.

Step 2

After ten minutes, remove the towel and the bag. You should be able to take a spatula or a dull knife from your kitchen and easily scrape away whatever has adhered to your unfinished wood floor.

If you have dry ice handy, this is also an option, though one you should pursue with caution. Dry ice can be dangerous, especially when in contact with human skin.

Things to Know to Not Damage When Cleaning Your Unfinished Wood Floors

The most important thing to keep in mind when cleaning unfinished wood floors is that you need to protect yourself, but you should also strive to protect unfinished wood floors. Such floors are as gorgeous as they are delicate, so you need to be considerate when choosing the best way to scrub them clean.

When it comes to cleaning this type of flooring, less is more. Make sure that you never leave the cleaner on your floors for too long. This is especially important with mineral spirits and TSP.

In addition to the above, be careful not to allow too much moisture to remain on your floors. Always use a damp cloth or a dry mop to get rid of residual cleaner or moisture. Moist or wet floors never fare well, so you should make sure to keep them dry.

Protecting Your Clean Unfinished Hardwood Floors

Learning how to clean unfinished wood floors and keeping them clean on a regular basis is definitely the best thing you can do to protect unfinished wood floors. If you want to go a few steps further in protecting them, there are a few things you can do.

First, you can put area rugs or runners in areas of high traffic. This means that the surface of the floor will not be as damaged by things like children running, items being dropped onto it, or the damage that can come from the claws of a cat or dog scratching against the unfinished floor.

You can also make sure that any furniture present in the room has felt pads underneath it. Felt pads on the bottom of a couch or chair in the room will ensure that, even if the item of furniture is dragged across the room, the bottom of the legs will not damage the surface of the wooden floor.

Along a similar line, you can buy wooden floor protectors. These exist specifically to be put under large pieces of furniture or appliances so that the weight of the item will not damage or indent your unfinished floor.

If you do make a mistake in the cleaning process, don’t worry. There’s nothing a bit of creative scrubbing or a cute area rug can’t fix!

Verdict

Unfinished wood flooring is a beautiful addition to any home. It may seem intimidating to try and keep it looking clean and gorgeous, but there are so many options out there to choose from.

You can choose a method of how to clean unfinished wood floors based on your specific needs, whether it is a harder chemical cleaner to lift deeply set stains or if you just need a standard cleaning with materials safe for your family.

Regardless of whether you’re deep cleaning or taking it easy, make sure to be gentle. Being careful will let you and your loved ones enjoy your unique flooring for many years to come!

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