Laminate floors are a beautiful, durable option far more affordable than hardwood floors. But once wax starts building up on the surface, laminate flooring ends up looking dingy, dull, and even dirty all of the time. If you’re like me, losing the lovely sheen is frustrating. That’s why I took a close look at how to remove wax from laminate floor.
You can remove wax from laminate floor with the right cleaners and some elbow grease. Begin by sweeping and vacuuming, then use a hairdryer to warm the wax. Once the wax is soft, a scraper can remove most of it. Following up with a vinegar solution will usually conquer the rest.
However, if you’re dealing with stubborn wax, you might need to take extra steps. If you’re trying to figure out how to remove wax from laminate floor, here’s what you need to know.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- Is Wax Bad for Laminate Floors?
- What Causes Wax Buildup on Laminate?
- How to Remove Wax from Laminate Floor
- How to Get Candle Wax Off Laminate Floor
- Can You Remove Waxy Film on Laminate Floors with Ammonia?
- Will Steam Cleaners Remove Wax on Laminate?
- How to Prevent Wax Buildup on Laminate Floors
- What’s the Best Way to Remove Wax from Laminate Floor?
Is Wax Bad for Laminate Floors?
Technically, the wax won’t hurt your laminate floor. However, waxing laminate isn’t helpful either. Layers of wax won’t boost any protection, and it can leave your floors looking dirty, dingy, and dull.
Generally, you wax hardwood floors to make them more stain and water-resistant. Plus, it can hide minor scratches, dings, and scuffs in natural wood. However, laminate is already stain and water-resistant, so this type of protection isn’t necessary. Plus, it isn’t easy to scratch, scuff, or dent, so there’s no benefit there.
As you add layers of wax, the coating starts collecting dirt and dust. Over time, this makes your shiny laminate floors look dull and cloudy. You can’t simply buff the wax to restore the sheen; you have to remove it entirely.
Since wax isn’t giving you any benefits, it’s a bad idea to wax laminate floors. By removing the wax and avoiding it in the future, your laminate floors can look their best for years to come.
What Causes Wax Buildup on Laminate?
Wax buildup on laminate usually occurs due to repeated applications. When you use a flooring treatment that contains wax, a thin layer of wax is left behind. While some of it wears away as you walk across your flooring, some remains, particularly in low-traffic areas.
When you use a cleaner with wax again, it applies a new layer of wax. Over time, these layers continue building up, creating a thicker wax coating with every application.
Precisely how long it takes for the wax buildup to become noticeable varies. The amount of wax in the flooring product plays a role, as well as how much traffic passes through various areas of your home. How frequently you apply the wax-containing cleaner is another factor in the equation.
Buffing the wax will also remove some of it. As a result, buffing regularly can slow down the buildup process. However, it’s more equivalent to daily wear and tear, so it typically won’t tackle the entire layer and usually doesn’t remove all of the built-up wax, allowing buildup to occur.
How to Remove Wax from Laminate Floor
Removing wax from laminate floor is typically a straightforward process. Before you begin, it’s wise to get some basic supplies together. First, you may want a knee cushion or knee pads. That makes kneeling on the floor more comfortable, and that’s something you’ll need to do during the cleanup process.
You’ll also want a soft-bristled broom or a dust mop. Additionally, a vacuum with a hard floor attachment or setting is essential.
A hairdryer with multiple heat settings is handy, though one with a single heat setting can do the trick. You’ll want a reliable hand scraper, typically a plastic one with a little flex. A large bucket and a microfiber mop are necessities, as well as distilled white vinegar.
It’s also helpful to have some personal protective equipment (PPE). In some cases, gloves, closed-toed shoes, and shoe covers are enough. However, as outlined in step five below, you may want a breathing mask and eye protection if you use mineral spirits.
Making sure your space is well-ventilated is also helpful. It will prevent scent or fume buildup and can speed up the drying process after mopping.
After you’ve gathered the items and prepared the room, you can begin the process. Here’s how to remove wax from laminate floor.
1. Sweep and Vacuum
The first step you need to take is you’re going to remove wax from laminate flooring is to sweep. That allows you to remove as much surface dirt, dust, and debris as possible, giving you a better starting surface.
After you sweep, collect what you gather into a dustpan and throw it away. Alternatively, you can create a small pile that you can vacuum up, suggesting none of the debris is too large.
Once you finish sweeping, it’s time to vacuum. Use a hard floor setting or attachment to get the best suction, making removing any remaining dust and dirt easier. Also, choose the highest setting that works with your hard floor attachment or position, making your cleaning more effective.
Pay special attention to corners and the grooves between the boards as you vacuum. If necessary, use a crevice tool to reach into those divots, ensuring you remove as much dirt and dust as possible. While that may increase the time required, it will lead to a better overall result.
2. Heat Wax with a Hairdryer
Heating the wax causes it to soften, making it easier to remove. By using a hairdryer, you can warm small sections of the wax at a time, allowing you to address those areas before the wax cools and hardens.
Preferably, you want to use a hairdryer with multiple heat settings. Start on a low-heat option to see if it’s enough to heat the wax while keeping the nozzle a handful of inches from the surface. If not, transition to a mid-level heat setting and use it instead.
Generally, a high-heat setting isn’t recommended, as too much heat can cause the laminate to expand oddly, resulting in issues like curling. If you only have one heat setting, keep the hairdryer about one foot off of your laminate initially, only bringing it closer if necessary.
The goal isn’t to fully liquify the wax. Instead, you simply want to soften it. That way, it stays somewhat intact when you scrape it up, making the process less messy.
3. Use a Scraper
As you heat wax sections on your laminate flooring, you can use a plastic hand scraper to remove it. You want to scrape across the planks, applying moderate pressure or less.
Keep the scraper at a 45° angle, applying pressure across and not downward. That reduces your odds of digging into or gouging your laminate, preventing damage.
Avoid using a metal scraper. Even if it isn’t incredibly rigid, the stiffness and sharp edge are more likely to cause harm. Instead, stick with a plastic one that’s slightly flexible and doesn’t have an overly sharp edge.
As you scrape, remove the wax that builds up and place it in a container for later disposal with every pass. That ensures it doesn’t stick to your flooring again, streamlining the process.
4. Clean with a White Vinegar Solution
After you hand scrape as much of the wax off as possible, it’s time to mop with a vinegar solution. Generally, one cup of distilled white vinegar added to a gallon of water is enough to do the job.
Vinegar is naturally acidic, so it will help break down the wax and remove any other buildup. Dip a microfiber mop in the solution, wring it out, and then mop a small section of your floor. Rinse the mop with clean water, dip again, and repeat the process.
As you mop, run it down the length of the board. You can do several passes over one section before rinsing, allowing you to remove more of the remaining residue.
In some cases, a single mopping with the vinegar solution will tackle all of the remaining wax. If not, you can do a second pass before rinsing. If that still doesn’t work, consider rinsing and moving to step five. Otherwise, skip step five and proceed to step six.
5. Try Mineral Spirits
You can try mineral spirits if you’ve mopped with a vinegar solution and still have some wax remaining in a few spots. Ensure the room is well-ventilated and wear appropriate PPE before you begin.
Start by slightly dampening a clean microfiber cloth with mineral spirits. Place the cloth on the wax buildup and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a damp rag to wipe off the loosened wax.
You can repeat the process as needed until the wax is completely gone. After one section is cleaned, move on to any other remaining wax spots until they’re all removed.
After you tackle all of the wax, you’ll need to rinse your floor. Check the manufacturer’s directions to ensure you use the proper cleaner. After cleaning up the mineral spirits, rinse with clean water to wipe away any remaining residue.
6. Buff with a Microfiber Cloth
After cleaning the floor, let it dry completely, then buff the floor with a microfiber cloth or a clean, dry microfiber mop.
The buffing process will eliminate any surface dust that resettled after you removed the wax. Plus, it can even out the sheen, making sure your laminate floors look their best.
As you work, check the microfiber cloth or mop regularly for signs of built-up dust. If it gets too dirty, switch to a clean microfiber cloth or mop. That ensures you aren’t spreading any collected dirt around, resulting in a cleaner floor once you’re done.
How to Get Candle Wax Off Laminate Floor
A few approaches can work well if you need to remove dripped or spilled candle wax from your laminate floor. These strategies don’t require chemicals, but you should still wear gloves as a precaution.
The best option may depend on how much wax you’re dealing with and how long it’s been in place. Whether the wax is still hot is also a factor.
Here are a few straightforward ways to get candle wax off laminate floors.
Cool and Scrape
If you’re dealing with recently spilled hot candle wax, this process is worth trying. Get a plastic bag and fill it with ice. Place that bag on the wax to cool it slightly, allowing it to solidify a bit without fully hardening.
Next, take a plastic scraper and gently pry up the wax. Keep the scraper at a 45° angle and go along the length of the board. Apply moderate horizontal pressure without pushing down too hard, reducing the odds of damaging the flooring.
In most cases, that alone will remove small, fresh spills. However, if there’s still a little residue, you can use a vinegar solution, as described previously, to tackle the remaining wax. Then, rinse with clean water, let the area dry, and buff the spot with a microfiber cloth to make sure the sheen is even.
Iron and Newspaper
If you’re dealing with freshly spilled wax or small amounts of wax, you can try cleaning it up with newspaper and a clothing iron. Only use an iron with a low heat setting; don’t apply any steam, as that can damage your laminate.
Place several layers of newspaper over the wax. Next, place a rag or old towel on top of the newspaper. Run the iron over the towel or rag to heat the wax.
As the wax warms, the newspaper will absorb it. Just remember that some may transfer to your rag or towel, so it’s better to use cloth you are okay with throwing out should that occur.
If there’s a lot of wax, you can pause after a few passes with the iron and replace the newspaper with fresh pieces. Then, repeat the process until all of the wax is gone.
If there’s a bit of residue after most of the wax is removed, consider following up with the vinegar solution described above. Then, rinse with clean water and buff the spot.
Hairdryer and White Vinegar
For small candle wax drips, you can use a hair dryer to warm the wax enough to make it removable. Use a low or medium heat setting if it’s available. If you only have high, keep the hairdryer at least a foot above your floor when you begin, only bringing it closer if necessary.
As you heat the wax, you can either use a scraper to remove it or a microfiber cloth. If you go with a cloth, choose one that you’re comfortable with throwing away once you’re finished cleaning up the wax.
After you get the bulk of the wax, apply some vinegar solution – using the recipe outlined previously – with a clean microfiber cloth. Gently rub the spot to get the rest of the wax off, rinse with clean water, and then buff it with a clean microfiber cloth to restore the shine.
Remove Stains with OxiClean
OxiClean is highly effective at removing stains caused by colored candle wax. After you clean up the wax, create a paste by combining the OxiClean with a bit of water. Place the paste on the stain and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
After the OxiClean sits for the allotted time, use a clean microfiber cloth to gently run the stains. Wipe the paste away and see if the stain is gone. If so, rinse with clean water before letting your floor dry.
If the first application didn’t tackle all of the stains, you could repeat the process. Just make sure you rinse thoroughly with clean water once you address the stain, ensuring there isn’t any residue remaining on your laminate.
Can You Remove Waxy Film on Laminate Floors with Ammonia?
While ammonia can effectively remove a waxy film built up on your laminate floors, using ammonia isn’t a good idea. Ammonia is incredibly potent and can damage the protective outer layer relatively quickly.
If you dilute the ammonia, there is less risk of damage. However, it still isn’t as safe as some alternatives. As a result, it’s better to stick with the approach outlined above, as it’s effective and comes with a lower risk of harm.
Will Steam Cleaners Remove Wax on Laminate?
Steam cleaners can heat the wax, making it easier to wipe up. The issue is that steam cleaners can damage laminate floors.
While laminate is moisture-resistant, it isn’t typically waterproof. Plus, laminate flooring is sensitive to high heat and humidity, increasing the odds of warping and peeling.
Laminate manufacturers don’t recommend using a steam cleaner on laminate flooring for those reasons. As a result, it’s better to stick with the process outlined above to ensure your laminate remains in good condition.
How to Prevent Wax Buildup on Laminate Floors
Generally, the best way to prevent wax buildup on laminate floors is to avoid cleaners that contain wax. Even if the cleaner is designed for laminate flooring, wax in the ingredients will create an increasingly thicker layer of wax on your floor. As a result, it’s best to review the ingredients list to ensure it doesn’t contain any wax.
If you use a laminate cleaner that contains wax, alternative use it with a vinegar solution as outlined above. That allows you to remove excess wax regularly, preventing buildup over time.
What’s the Best Way to Remove Wax from Laminate Floor?
Generally, the best way to remove wax from laminate floor is to clean it by sweeping and mopping first. Next, heat the wax with a hairdryer and use a scraper to remove the wax. Follow that up by mopping with a vinegar solution and a clean water rinse. If that doesn’t do the trick, try mineral spirits before buffing with a microfiber cloth.
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