How to Clean Unfinished Wood

It’s no secret that wooden floors possess a unique charm because of their natural appearance. Although the wood isn’t sealed with finishing such as wax, it’s more susceptible to damage by most detergents and cleaners such as vinyl siding cleaners.

Therefore, you should tread carefully when it comes to the technique of getting your floor spick and span. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the various methods you can choose from on how to clean unfinished wood the right way.

As a rule of thumb, steer clear of soap and water because it causes discoloration, and the wood might swell up.

Factors to Consider Before Cleaning Unfinished Wood

Before exploring how to clean unfinished wood, we’ve rounded up a few factors to consider beforehand.

1. Wood Stability

The stability of the wood determines the safest technique you can use to get unfinished wood pristine without deteriorating it. It’s worth noting that wood that absorbs water instantly is better suited for vacuuming. Contrarily, wood that takes a while to absorb water is a better fit for wet cleaning methods.

2. Condition and Type of the Wood

It’s essential to know the type and condition of your unfinished wood before you begin the cleaning process. The more archaic types of wood must be handled delicately because they are more susceptible to damage, whereas the newer counterparts will retain their sturdiness.

Additionally, pinewood easily absorbs stains whereas, for harder types of wood, the stain is more likely to remain on the surface.

3. Presence of Patinas

A patina is the remains of substances applied on wood surfaces, for instance, coating remnants. Differentiating between dirt and patinas is no easy feat and can interfere with the cleaning process. However, with ideal scrutiny, you can pinpoint and get rid of the dirt.

4. Testing

It’s essential to test various techniques on unnoticeable parts of the unfinished wood. Doing so will allow you to determine the most suitable method that won’t cause damage or deterioration to the wooden surface.

How to Clean Unfinished Wood

Unfinished wood
Image Credit: Unsplash

We’ve rounded up a few safe and surefire ways to get your unfinished wood surface looking good as new.

1. A Microfiber Cloth

A microfiber cloth is one of the easiest cleaning methods and is perfect for unfinished wooden surfaces that lack excessive grime and dirt in the grain of the wood. Once you get a dry and clean microfiber cloth to gently wipe the unfinished wood surface, you’re good to go.

2. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a cleaning agent that comes in handy when you need to get various surfaces spick and span, including unfinished wood. However, tread carefully because using undiluted white vinegar on a wood surface can corrode it. To get started with this cleaning method, you’ll need:

Next, follow these steps:

  • Mix ½ cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of water in a bucket.
  • Dip the soft cloth into the cleaning solution, wring it out and wipe down the unfinished wood.

3. Erasers or Erasing Compounds

Erasers or erasing compounds are some of the mildest ways to clean unfinished wood surfaces. An example of these eraser types would be Magic Rub. For this method, you’ll need:

To get the ball rolling:

  • Rub a small amount of the erasing compound onto your unfinished wood surface.
  • To remove dirt from the wood grain, rub the erasing compound towards the wood grain as many times as needed.
  • After a few minutes, you’ll notice the erasing compound getting dirty due to the transfer of stains and dirt from the wood surface. That’s your cue to switch to a clean side of the eraser.
  • You can now eliminate the eraser residue in addition to the dirt by using a vacuum cleaner or soft brush.

4. Sandpaper

Sandpaper is a powerful cleaning material that gets the job done for the unfinished wood. It’s effective in eliminating stubborn stains such as dye. However, don’t throw caution to the wind with this method because the coarse texture of sandpaper is likely to damage the wood.

It’s worth keeping in mind that sandpaper textures of 200 to 220 come in handy in sanding wood before painting, and a coarse texture of 100 can ruin your wood. A medium texture anywhere between 150 and 190 can eliminate stains and abrasions on unfinished wood.

You’ll require:

To get started, follow the steps below.

  • Brush the surface to eliminate loose debris and dust.
  • Dip the cloth into water and wipe down the unfinished wood.
  • After wiping down the bare wood with a damp cloth, gently rub the oil stains from the wood with the sandpaper. Work toward the wood grain rather than away from it.

5. Adhesive Rubber

Adhesive rubber is a product made with natural rubber that comes in handy when cleaning an unfinished wooden surface. With its sticky nature, adhesive rubber gets the job done by sticking to the stains and dirt in the crevices and grain of your unfinished wood surface.  To begin the process:

  • Firmly press the adhesive rubber on the bare wood surface and gently roll it over the wood and into the grain.
  • The rubber then becomes darker due to the amount of dirt and debris that sticks.
  • Once you remove the adhesive, flip it over and massage the clean part onto the unfinished wood surface until it becomes pristine.

6. Trisodium Phosphate

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) comes in handy in eliminating stains from the unfinished wood surface. The main ingredient in TSP is phosphate and is very similar to baking soda. For this cleaning method, you need:

  • Water
  • A microfiber cloth
  • Water
  • Trisodium phosphate

To get started:

  • Apply trisodium phosphate onto the unfinished wood surface.
  • Use a soft bristle brush to scrub it onto the wood.
  • Once the stains have been lifted, pour some water onto the surface and wipe it down.
  • Leave the wood to air dry.

7. Mineral Spirit

It’s a petroleum substance that effectively removes paint residue from brushes and dyes or stains from unfinished wood. Keep in mind that mineral spirit is detrimental to your health when inhaled, so wearing a mask is advisable. To begin, you’ll need:

To begin:

  • Pour some of the mineral spirits onto the unfinished wood surface.
  • Scrub the surface using a towel or clean cloth.
  • Use a dry cloth to wipe down the surface afterward.

8. Murphy’s Oil and Water

Murphy’s oil mixed with water is one of the most popular mixtures that gets the job done when cleaning unfinished wood surfaces. For this cleaning method, you need:

Follow the steps below.

  • Mix ½ cup of Murphy’s oil with 1 gallon of water.
  • Dip a cloth in the solution, wring it and wipe down the wood surface until it becomes spick and span. 
  • Leave the wood surface to dry.

Bottom Line

Whether you have deeply ingrained or surface dirt on your unfinished wood or wood furniture, these methods are here to save the day. Once your wood surface looks good as new, you can do your happy dance as you smile from ear to ear.

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