How To Clean Unfinished Wood Floors And Make Them Shine

By Cezar

Unfinished Wood Flooring

Hardwood floors are a classic choice – and for good reason. Hardwood adds both warm and elegance to any space it features in. It’s also incredibly versatile – it never really goes out of style. Lastly, it’s incredibly durable and has the longevity to last decades or even longer.

However, do you know how to care for your hardwood flooring? Most do. But what if it’s unfinished?

While most homeowners will have their hardwood finished when installing it, there are many ways you can encounter unfinished wood. Maybe you’ve just removed carpeting or linoleum during a renovation and uncovered hardwood underneath. You might have purchased an older or more rustic property with unfinished hardwood floors. It’s also possible you’re renovating or repurposing an older room in your home, like an attic or storage area.

In any case, it’s important to know that an untreated wood floor has to be cleaned differently than a finished floor. Using the wrong techniques can easily damage your wood!

How To Protect Unfinished Floors?

Unfinished floors are vulnerable both to moisture and to many harsh cleaning products. When cleaning unfinished wood floors, you’ll need to use special cleaning solutions and ensure that moisture is minimized and any excess is promptly dried.

Of course, a more permanent option for protecting your floors is to finish them.


Best Way To Clean Unfinished Wood Floors

When it’s time to clean your wooden floors, you’ll need to assess the amount of work that needs to be done. Regular cleaning is straightforward, but if you feel it’s time to deep clean your unfinished wood floor more specialized techniques will be called for. We’ll start with the basics and discuss deep cleaning later.

The first step in any cleaning is to remove loose dust and debris. Make sure to use a broom with soft bristles or a dry mop – something that won’t scratch or scuff your floor. Avoid abrasive brooms! You want to ensure that all dirt is gone now, as it can interfere with the cleaning process later.

The best way to do your regular cleaning is through damp mopping. Using a solution of one cup of vinegar per two gallons of water, immerse your mop in the mixture before letting most of the water fall back into the bucket. Then, use long strokes along the grain of your wood – this will avoid streaking as it dries. If you do happen to use too much solution and get your floor wet, promptly remove the excess with your mop or a cloth.

This is the basic cleaning procedure, and can be done once or twice a month.

There are many other cleaning products you can use besides the simple vinegar and water solution recommended here, but take care that anything you do use is certified for use with raw wood.

Cleaning Solutions

Besides the excellent vinegar combination we recommended above, there are a variety of other cleaning solutions available. We’ll give a brief rundown of the most popular options here.

  • Oil Soap

Oil soap is one of the most popular products on the market for cleaning wooden floors, particularly Murphy’s Oil Soap. Not only do these products clean, but they’re designed to leave behind an oily residue that impregnates the surface of the wood, giving it a light finish.

While these products have been incredibly popular for over a century, beware that many flooring professionals do not like them and believe they make your floor more difficult to treat and clean properly in the long run.

  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

If you have stains or need a more intensive cleaning product, trisodium phosphate is a great choice. A powerful cleaner that will not harm your floors, you can either purchase TSP separately to prepare your own solution or buy a cleaner that includes it as a primary ingredient. TSP won’t harm your floors, so you can either spot – apply it using a small brush or mop it on.

  • Mineral Spirit

Mineral spirits are another heavy-duty cleaning product that can wipe out tough stains. You should apply mineral spirits with a cloth and always be careful to follow the appropriate ventilation instructions.

Procedure Of Deep Cleaning

Sometimes regular cleaning isn’t enough, and stubborn stains or grime persist under your mop. If this happens, you’ll need to deep clean. Here are some steps to follow when deep cleaning an unfinished wood floor.

  1. Clean The Whole Floor First: Do a first pass to get your floor as clean as possible and identify the truly stubborn stains
  2. Do A Second Pass: Next, do a second pass – but this time use a heavier duty cleaner such as TSP. Follow the directions for whatever you use and apply it thoroughly
  3. Spot Clean Stubborn Stains: After allowing your floor to try, go after the stubborn stains section by section. Use a product line mineral spirits to remove stains from each section of floor.


Unfinished floors can look great, with a great rustic, natural look. However, they can be trickier to clean properly without doing damage or staining your floor. Follow these instructions to keep your unfinished floor looking its best.

There is no “one size fits all” solution here! Each wood floor and its condition are unique. We will provide you with the best and most cost-efficient solution for your floors.

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As a general rule, professionally refinished hardwood floors last 5 times longer vs DIY.