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Can you use mineral spirits to clean hardwood floors?

Updated February 21, 2017

White spirit, also known as paint thinner, is a solvent that cleans dirt and grime from tools, metal components and other materials. The chemical also removes grime and stains from wood, tile and plastic surfaces. The substance is available at hardware, home improvement and chemical supply stores, as well as certain retail superstores. The chemical wipes clean without leaving behind a layer of film or residue.

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Cleaning and Stain Removal

You can use white spirit to clean hardwood flooring, including polyurethane, sealed and waxed hardwood surfaces. The chemical will not damage the flooring or break down any protective coverings on the flooring. White spirit will also remove scuff marks, marks from pencils and similar instruments, and other stains from the flooring.

Applying the Chemical

The chemical works similar to trisodium phosphate -- a general purpose cleaner that doesn't leave behind residue. Apply 2 tbsp of white spirit to a soft cloth towel or cloth and wipe the hardwood clean. You can also apply the chemical to a soft mop, wring out excess and mop your flooring with the damp mop.

Using White Spirit and Steel Wool

You can apply white spirit to a piece of No. 1 or 0 steel wool to remove heavy debris from your hardwood flooring. After cleaning the flooring, let it dry thoroughly, and then apply wax and buff the flooring with a clean rag or towel.


White spirit contains hydrocarbons that are poisonous if swallowed or inhaled into your lungs. Wear a nose mask and latex gloves when working with white spirit and work in a well-ventilated area. Also, do not drink white spirit or let children handle the chemical. If the chemical spills on to your skin, flush the area with water for at least 15 minutes.

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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.

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