How to Clean Unsealed Wood Floors: The Ultimate Guide

For small jobs, pour mineral spirits into a cloth and clean them by hand. For bigger jobs, spray the floor surface using a spray bottle full of odorless mineral spirits, and spread with a clean microfiber mop.

Most homeowners like wood floors because of their natural look, but unsealed wood flooring can be hard to clean.

Most cleaning products intended for sealed wood floors can destroy unsealed ones. So, keeping your cleaning routine simple and gentle is very important.

Below, we’ll teach you how to clean unsealed wood floors and share useful cleaning tips, so let’s dive right into it.

How to Clean Unsealed Wood Floors?

Unsealed wood floors can add a rustic charm to any home, and if they’re maintained properly, they can last for many years.

However, since wood isn’t protected by a sealer, liquids mustn’t stay on the surface of unsealed wood floors for too long.

In other words, you must clean up spills immediately. Moreover, you shouldn’t clean unsealed wood floors with water-based cleaning products.

We suggest using a dry mop with a Swiffer sweeper daily. It’s one of the easiest ways to keep your floors free of dust, outdoor debris, pet hair, etc.

We wouldn’t recommend using oil soaps and regular wood cleaners on unsealed wood floors as they usually contain water that can leave watermarks and stains.

Never Use Water

Sealed wood floors can handle water, but unsealed ones can’t. So, avoid using water to clean unsealed wood flooring.

Unsealed wood floors don’t feature a protective layer of urethane, polyurethane, or other top coats. Therefore, they quickly absorb any liquid on their surface.

If you use water and water-based cleaners to clean unsealed wood, you will end up with a cracked or warped flooring. Also, avoid using liquid floor cleaners and all-purpose on unsealed wood flooring for the same reason.

Clean with Odorless Mineral Spirits

You can clean your unsealed wood floors with odorless mineral spirits. They’re safer to use indoors as they lack the toxic vapors that regular mineral spirits have.

If you need to clean smaller parts of your wood floor, apply mineral spirits to a clean cloth and get cleaning. For bigger jobs, use a spray bottle full of odorless mineral spirits. Spray the sections with mineral spirits and spread with a clean microfiber mop.

The microfiber mop will enable the product to clean your unsealed wood floors while drying them at the same time.

You can also use ammonia for cleaning unsealed wood floors. Pour a small amount of ammonia into a larger bucket and apply with a sponge mop.

Just make sure you open the windows for proper ventilation before cleaning. Also, ring the mop out before applying the product. Finally, dry thoroughly afterward using a microfiber mop.

Sweep and Vacuum Your Unsealed Wood Floors Regularly

You can keep your unsealed wood floors clean by sweeping and vacuuming daily or weekly.

They don’t have a protective layer, so you must be careful about the equipment you use to clean them.

For instance, if you prefer sweeping, opt for a broom created for indoor sweeping, so you can prevent scratches or marks on the surface. If you prefer vacuuming over sweeping, select a canister model with attachments for bare floors to prevent surface damage.

The frequency of sweeping or vacuuming depends on the location of your unsealed flooring.

If it’s located in a heavily frequented area such as a hallway, you may need to clean it daily, but if it’s installed in a less frequented area, cleaning it every week is enough.

Treat Your Unsealed Wood Floors with Oil

Cleaning your unsealed wood flooring regularly won’t stop dirt and debris from piling up on the surface, but natural oils will.

Treat your wood floors with natural oils such as jojoba or linseed oil once a month to prevent surface residue and keep them clean.

You can apply the oils with a soft rag. Simply spread whatever oil you select and let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then follow up with a dry mop to buff the oil in and lift any surface dirt and residue.

Wax Your Unsealed Wood Floors

Waxing will improve the appearance of any unsealed wood flooring. 

Wax it between cleanings with petroleum-based, waterless wax to prevent warping.

Using a clean rag, spread the wax in a thin layer and let it dry for about 30 minutes. Once it’s dry, you can buff it in with another clean cloth.

Keep in mind that waxing is a time-consuming process that requires elbow grease, especially if you have a large surface to cover.

In this case, using a buffing machine is your best option. You can rent this machine from local hardware or a home improvement store.

Can I Clean Unsealed Wood Floors with Vinegar?

You can clean unsealed wood floors with vinegar since it’s effective at removing the deep-seated dirt and keeping mold spores and mildew from damaging the unfinished wood.

You must be careful when cleaning unfinished wood floors with vinegar, as it should be diluted in water. The next steps can help you clean your flooring with vinegar safely, so take a look.

Step 1: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Although white vinegar isn’t a toxic product, a very concentrated solution can cause a strong odor, so prepare your cleaning solution properly.

Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water in a dirt-free bucket. Make sure the solution is properly mixed. If you have a larger surface to clean, pour 2, 3, or 4 cups of vinegar but don’t forget to add an extra gallon of water per cup of vinegar.

Furthermore, don’t fill the bucket to the top. Otherwise, it will spill every time you dip your mop in and ruin your floor.

Step 2: Prepare Your Unsealed Wood Floor

Remove any rugs, objects, and furniture that can get in your way during the moping. Also, block out the area so no one, including your pets, if you have any, can enter and leave fresh footprints while you’re cleaning.

Then, using a broom, remove any surface dirt and dust that can prevent the vinegar solution from accessing the layers underneath.

If you don’t have a broom on hand, you can also vacuum your floor before cleaning.

Step 3: Mop the Floor and Let it Air-Dry

Dip your mop into the bucket and then use a strainer to remove excess liquid as unsealed wood floors can’t handle water as well as sealed ones.

So, make sure the mop isn’t dripping water. A damp mop can do the trick and lift the surface dirt.

Once you’re done, you can go over the floor with a clean cloth or let it air-dry before letting anyone inside the room or putting the furniture back on the floor.

Can I Clean Unsealed Wood Floors With TPS?

You can clean your unsealed wood floors with a TPS cleaning solution.

If it’s liquid, you can skip this step. However, since TPS typically comes in a powder form, it must be dissolved in hot water. That being said, you must be very careful as this cleaning method includes water, which, again, isn’t suitable to use for unsealed wood.

First, prepare the wood floor by removing any rugs, furniture, and anything that can disrupt your cleaning process. Then, prepare your TPS cleaning solution.

Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

Mix half a cup of TSP in 2 gallons of hot water. We suggest using hot water because TSP dissolves faster in hot water. It also evaporates faster upon application.

And since you don’t want excess moisture on your unfinished wood floors, hot water works best.

Step 2: Apply the Solution and Towel Dry Your Floor

If you’re dealing with small stains, use a teaspoon to apply the cleaning solution and a soft toothbrush to scrub off the residue.

You can either use a shoe polish brush or any other type of large soft-bristled brush for larger stains to scrub off the surface residue after applying the TSP solution with a sponge.

If you’re cleaning the entire floor surface, use a mop for the best results. Make sure you strain the excess water before using your mop to clean the floor.

Once you’re done, dry the surface immediately using a clean absorbent towel.

Maintenance Tips and Advice

You can easily keep your unsealed wood floors clean and looking good by applying the following tips.

Use Rugs and Runners

Make sure you use rugs and runners in busy areas such as hallways. That way, you will prevent dirt buildup. Moreover, put placemats at every entrance of your home to keep away shoes with soil.

Tackle Stains Immediately

Mop or immediately remove any water or liquid spills to prevent stubborn stains. You can either clean spills with a microfiber cloth or a clean absorbent towel.

Moreover, avoid using a steam cleaner on unfinished wood floors as excess moisture easily damages them.

Do You Plan to Seal the Floors in the Future?

You can apply wax to the surface of unfinished wood floors to protect the wood, but this is only recommended if the wood won’t be sealed in the future.

Waxes not only take much time and effort to apply but also to remove, so if the plan is to seal your floors in the future, avoid any products that will leave a residue on the surface.

FAQs on How to Clean Unsealed Wood Floors

Can I mop on unsealed wood floor?

You can mop unsealed wood floors, but you shouldn’t use a water-based product in the process unless the cleaning products such as vinegar or TSP require dilution in water.

Can I use Murphy’s oil soap on unfinished wood floors?

You can use Murphy oil soap as it’s a gentle cleanser that removes dirt from unsealed wood flooring without releasing toxic fumes. Note that this soap should be diluted in water, so be careful as unfinished wood floors can’t handle water too well.

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