Removing Floor Wax Buildup on a Wood Hutch

I acquired a tall wood hutch that sat in a family owned restaurant for at least 40 years. It has a very thick coating of what I believe is floor wax on the wood apron that goes around the base of the piece.


I had worked there for several years before they closed and there was a man that came in twice a month for 30 years that cleaned all the wood floors and used a liquid floor wax - and he obviously never bothered wiping it off the base of all the furniture.

What can I use to remove the thick coat of gunk? It is a very thick layer. I tried cleaning it when I first brought it home 10 years ago, but finally gave up and have it stored. Anybody know of a solvent that will remove it?

Thank you.

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April 26, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

Murphy's Oil Soap is excellent for this.

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April 27, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you, Judy. Murphys was one of the products I tried initially. I thought it would, at the very least, soften it a bit but it had no effect whatsoever.

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April 26, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

There are several ways to do this but the hutch needs to be in a well ventilated area.


  • I like using an ammonia/water mixture as it does a very good job and is easy to do.
  • With ammonia you have to have a well ventilated area, gloves, maybe a mask if you have problems with fumes at all, 2 buckets, water, ammonia, and several cleaning rags (preferably white or light color).
  • Here is a link that gives full directions (as well as several other methods):
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April 27, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you @cybergrannie, I think I tried every concoction known to man except ammonia! Luckily, I have a work area in the barn and big ventilation fans for just that purpose. As soon as my husband gets back into town, I'll get the base out of storage and try that. Thanks again. I've copied the link and going to check it out right now.

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April 28, 20180 found this helpful

Please let us know if any method works for you as someone reading the question later may be needing the same type of help and your response might help them also.


One of the problems may be the fact that while the cleaner was "slopping" wax on the hutch, they were also sloshing whatever type of cleaner they used (if they cleaned the floor)) so the buildup could be other stuff combined with wax that "locked" it in.
Good luck - Hope something works.
I have never tried the hair dryer and vinegar method but it sounds interesting.

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April 29, 20180 found this helpful

Have you tried using a fine steel wool to sand it off? I have an old church pew that had the same issue. In one area it had a chuck of it 1/4 inch thick stuck. I used a fine steel wool. Then, sanded the area and then refinished it.

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April 30, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you @mom-from-missouri, when I first brought it home and started working on it, I was planning to give it a light sanding to get the shine off - to refinish it without completely stripping it. I've done this before successfully with other furniture and have used 600 steel wool- (the kind that doesn't have the oily coating- hard lesson learned!) The hutch is actually 2 pieces- the top half of the hutch was in much better shape so I started work on the base first. As soon as I hit the apron on the base with the steel wool, then sandpaper, it felt like dried, hard chewing gum. I then tried using a random orbital power sander. After several minutes, it looked white and the sanding pad was starting to gum up.


It was obvious that I would either have to use 60 grit and take it down to the raw wood- something I wanted to avoid since it would turn this project into a nightmare- or find something that would remove the gunked up wax first. That's when I started with murphys and other products. I just read something that said I could try softening the wax with a blow dryer and try scraping some of the excess wax off before trying vinegar to remove what was left. This stuff is so thick! I'm sure I could scrape quite a bit off without coming close to the wood. That's my next move- a blow dryer and my go-to multi-scraper- a spent plastic gift card!

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May 31, 20180 found this helpful

I would go straight for the turpentine, acetone, or some other solvent specially designed to clean up oil paints/waxy oil things. THere is a risk that it might be too strong and damage the original varnish though

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