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How to clean unfinished wood before staining

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you've just installed a wood floor or added some fresh trim to your windows or doorways, or even built a craft or furniture piece from scratch, you may find yourself in a situation where the unfinished wood needs cleaning, but you want to use something that won't affect the wood stain you plan to use in the near future. This means you have to use a type of cleaning solution that gets rid of build-up without leaving any residue behind, as the stain won't properly absorb otherwise.

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  1. Fill a spray bottle with 2 cups water. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar for heavily soiled, unfinished wood that has sticky residue or similar film build-up.

  2. Mist a lint-free cleaning rag with the spray. Don't use paper towels, as this will leave behind paper particles that may affect the staining of the wood in the future.

  3. Rub the damp cloth over the unfinished wood, rubbing with the direction of the wood grain to prevent splintering.

  4. Let the wood air dry fully before staining.

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Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free cleaning rag
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • White vinegar

About the Author

Mel Frank is a professional freelance writer with over 15 years of writing experience. She has completed a wide variety of writing assignments for a number of publications that include CNN and various websites. Frank received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from a prestigious university in Pennsylvania.

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