If you own waxed floors, then you know that you need to re-apply the wax every few years.
You may not have the budget to afford expensive stripping machines.
Luckily, you can still strip a floor without using one.
We’ll help you strip your floor without a machine by examining several methods.
How To Strip A Floor Without a Machine (4 Methods To Use)
Method 1: Two Mops And Stripping Solution
This method is ideal for stripping vinyl, linoleum, concrete, and other similar floor types.
It’s not ideal for hardwood and tile.
Without a machine, it takes a lot of labor to completely strip a floor.
Following these methods can ensure you do it the right way to avoid making mistakes.
Step 1: Gather The Materials
You’ll need two mops and two buckets for this method.
One is for the stripping solution while the other is for the neutralizing agent.
It’s a good idea to have a third bucket for trash on hand, too.
A dry mop or broom is also needed.
You’ll also need a stripping solution that’s safe for the type of flooring you’re stripping.
A putty knife and chewing gum remover are also required to remove gum and sticky substances.
Since you’ll be working with your hands, you need to wear personal protective equipment.
You do not want to get either the stripping solution or the neutralizing agent on your skin.
Gloves and a mask are ideal.
Step 2: Sweep And Dust
Before you can strip the floor, it needs to be prepared.
Sweep the floor to remove dirt and dust from its surface.
Make sure you sweep every corner, too.
Pass over the floor a few times to leave nothing behind.
Step 3: Apply Chewing Gum Remover
In areas that are sticky or have chewing gum, spray the chewing gum remover.
You can’t wax over the chewing gum.
The sticky areas may also make waxing difficult later.
Let the chewing gum remover soak into the area for a time.
A few minutes is all it needs.
Then use the putty knife to cut the gum from the floor.
Place the flat of the knife against the floor.
Then gently scrape under the gum to remove it.
Ensure the edges of the gum are also gone.
For sticky areas, you can wipe them down with the chewing gum remover.
Step 4: Mix Stripping Solution Per Instructions
Depending on the type of stripping solution that you bought, you’ll find instructions on the container.
Read them and mix the solution according to them.
Mix it in one of the buckets.
A wringer basket is helpful since it can help remove any lingering residue on your mop.
Step 5: Mix Neutralizing Solution Per Instructions
You’ll follow the same step with the neutralizing solution.
Except this solution will be in the second bucket.
Don’t mix the two.
Don’t let the mops mix either.
The neutralizing solution will have directions on it that tell you how to mix it.
Follow the instructions to the letter and follow all safety directions.
Step 6: Apply Stripping Solution To The Mop And Mop The Floor
Dip the mop into the stripping solution and let it soak the cloth.
Then use the mop to spread the solution across the floor.
It’s a good idea to plan how you’re going to mop the room before you do it.
Start the furthest from the door and make sure you know how long it takes for the stripping solution to dry.
You don’t want to miss your chance to remove the wax and solution residue.
Generously apply the stripping solution.
Since you’re doing it without a machine, you need the solution to do most of the work for you.
Twisting the mop in a rotating direction can also help stir the solution into the floor.
Be mindful of splashing it on the walls.
Then let it sit for a few minutes.
The standard wait time is three to five minutes.
You’ll find a more accurate wait time on the stripping solution’s label.
Step 7: Mop Up Wax And Solution Residue
It’s important that you remove the residue from the floor.
As the solution works into the floor, it breaks up the wax and brings it to the surface.
You’re left with a mess.
Use a clean and fresh mop to soak up the residue within the mop.
At this stage, you would usually use a wet vacuum.
If you have access to one, then it can speed the process up a lot.
Without one, you’ll need to rely on dry mopping.
Depending on the size of the room, you may need several dry mops or cloths to clean up the residue.
The floor doesn’t need to be completely dry.
You just need to remove the slurry that the solution leaves behind.
Step 8: Use Second Mop To Apply Neutralizing Solution
Before the stripping solution dries, you need to apply the neutralizing solution.
Take the second mop and dip it into the second bucket with the solution.
Then rinse the floor with it.
You don’t need to be as generous with this solution, but it should cover the entire floor in an even coat.
You’ll also want to wash the baseboards with it in the event that any stripping solution splashed onto it.
This process may need to be repeated several times.
The goal is to stop the stripping solution from stirring up the floor’s surface.
Step 9: Let Dry And Wax
Once the neutralizing agent covers the entire floor, you need to let it dry.
Don’t let anyone walk on the floor while it dries.
The time it takes to dry is dependent on the size of the floor.
At the very least, give the floor eight hours to dry without any traffic on it.
If you plan on waxing the floor, then you can start that process once it’s dry.
Method 2: Vinegar And A Scrub Brush
This next method requires more labor than the first one.
However, many homeowners consider it a safer option.
It’s ideal if you don’t want to use a stripping solution that contains heavy chemicals.
Follow these steps to ensure the method works to its best effectiveness.
Step 1: Gather The Materials
The tools you’ll need are a scrub brush, a mop, and a bucket.
You may also benefit from having a steel wool pad on hand.
Step 2: Prepare The Floor
Before you start stripping the floor, you need to prepare it.
Use a broom, brush, or cloth to remove any dirt and debris lying on the floor.
You need it to be as smooth as possible.
Step 3: Scratch The Wax With Ultra-Fine Steel Wool Pad
You won’t be able to remove all the wax with the ultra-fine steel wool pad, but it can start the process.
Scrub the floor with the ultra-fine steel wool pad to start marking up the wax.
Don’t use all your strength on this step.
You just want to scuff it up a little bit.
Step 4: Mix Ingredients Together To Make Stripping Solution
Mix one gallon of warm water with one cup of white vinegar and one cup of cream of tartar.
You’ll want to mix it all in your bucket.
Stir it up to mix it.
Step 5: Mop The Floor With The Solution
Dip your mop into the stripping solution and spread it across the floor.
Since you’re not using harsh chemicals on the floor, you need to be generous with your solution.
The idea is to soften the wax as much as possible.
Be mindful that you don’t mop the solution onto the walls.
Then let it rest for about five minutes.
The solution will start agitating the wax and making it soften.
Step 6: Use Scrub Brush On The Floor
The bulk of the stripping is going to be through hard labor.
Use the scrub brush to start removing the wax.
You can also dip the brush into the solution to help strip the floor easier.
Mimic the movement of a standard stripping machine by rotating the brush in circles.
The movement can help break up the wax from adhering to the floor.
If there are certain parts of the floor where the wax won’t remove, then bring out the ultra-fine steel wool pad again.
Scrub hard into the area to get rid of the wax.
This process will take time.
You may only want to do a few sections of the floor at a time to ensure the solution doesn’t dry as you scrub it.
Considering the abuse that the floor is taking during the process, this method isn’t ideal for hardwood floors.
Step 7: Rinse With Fresh Water
Get a new mop and bucket and fill it with water.
Then use the mop to rinse the slurry from the floor.
A wringer bucket can help refresh your mop.
Take the time to clean the baseboards as well.
Step 8: Dry And Apply New Wax
After the rinse, let the floor rest and dry for a few hours.
It won’t take as long for the floor to dry since a good deal of it was just water.
However, you should keep foot traffic off of the floor for at least eight hours.
Once the floor is dry, it’s ready for new waxing.
Method 3: Soft-Bristled Brush For Hardwood Floor Stripping
Stripping a hardwood floor isn’t as easy as stripping other floor types.
The tools and equipment need to be gentle on its surface to prevent scratching.
This method uses a soft-bristled brush to manually strip the floor in a safe way.
Follow the steps to keep from damaging your hardwood floor.
Step 1: Gather The Materials
One of the most important parts of this step is to find the right stripping solution.
The solution needs to be safe for hardwood floors.
It will indicate on the bottle whether it’s safe for hardwood floors or not.
You’ll also need a soft-bristle brush and two microfiber mops.
A dry microfiber mop is also ideal.
Use two buckets as well.
Step 2: Sweep The Floor
Prepare the hardwood floor for stripping by brushing it first.
The dry microfiber mop is ideal for this because it’s gentle against the floor, yet the cloth is still tough enough to pick up dirt and debris with ease.
Step 3: Test The Stripping Solution
You can never be 100% sure how a new chemical is going to affect the finish on your floors.
Before you start applying it all over the floor, first choose a small area to test it.
The corner is an ideal location.
Spread a little bit of solution in the corner to see if it damages the wood in any way.
Look for color changes as well as conformational changes.
If nothing happens, then the solution is safe for your floor.
If there is a reaction, then return the solution if possible and find a different one.
Then repeat the process until you find one that is safe to use.
Step 4: Apply Stripping Solution With Microfiber Mop
Now that you know that the stripping solution is safe for your hardwood floor, you’re ready to strip the floor.
Apply the solution to the microfiber mop or dip the mop in a bucket full of the solution.
Then gently spread it across the surface of your hardwood floors with a mop.
You’ll want to use the solution generously since you won’t be using heavy-duty machinery on it.
Once the solution has been spread across the floor in an even coat, let it rest.
The amount of time it needs to rest will be in the stripping solution’s directions.
Step 5: Use Dry Mop To Clean Residue And Slurry
You’ll likely go through a few dry mops to remove the slurry from the floors.
It’s important that you keep up with the work.
Allowing the slurry to remain can make an uneven surface when it dries.
Don’t worry about drying the floor with the mop.
You just want to remove the residue that the solution is creating.
Step 6: Apply More Stripper As Necessary
Since hardwood stripping solutions are gentler than other types of stripping solutions, they may not remove the wax on the first coat.
If you find this is the case, then you need to go over the floor again with the stripping solution.
You’ll need to follow this process with the dry mop again to remove the residue.
Repeat these steps as needed until the wax is gone.
Step 7: Scrub With Soft-Bristle Brush
Dip the soft-bristle brush into the stripping solution and scrub the corners and baseboards.
If there are a few other trouble areas, then use the brush on them, too.
The soft bristles will ensure it doesn’t scratch the hardwood floor while scrubbing the wax from it.
You may need to use considerable force to remove the wax.
You should also try to brush in a circular motion, if possible.
Step 8: Rinse With Fresh Water
Find a second bucket and fill it with fresh water.
Then use a fresh mop and rinse the floor.
Remove everything from the surface of the floor.
Once you’re done rinsing the floor, let it dry.
Like the other flooring types, you need to keep traffic off of it for at least eight hours.
Overnight is the best option.
Method 4: Mops, Stripping Solution, Grout Cleaner For Tiled Floors
If you have tiled floors, then you need a little bit of extra work to clean them.
Grout lines are the most difficult part of tiled floors.
It can be difficult for mops to remove the wax within those lines.
Following these steps can help you strip a tiled floor the correct way without a machine.
Step 1: Gather The Materials
You’ll need two mops and two buckets.
For tiled floors, you’ll also need a grout cleaner.
This is a particular brush that is effective at fitting inside the grout lines and cleaning them.
If you’re on a budget, then an unused toothbrush can also work.
You’ll need to find a floor stripping solution that’s safe for tiled floors.
Luckily, most stripping solutions are safe for various tiled floor surfaces.
You’ll also want to wear protective equipment.
A mask, gloves, and knee pads or a pillow to rest your knees on are ideal.
Step 2: Sweep The Floor With A Dry Mop
Use a broom or a dry mop to sweep the floor.
Pay special attention to the grout lines and remove any crumbs or debris lurking within them.
You may also want to use the grout cleaner to brush out crumbs if the mop or broom doesn’t reach it.
Step 3: Apply Stripper To The Mop
Mix the stripping solution in a bucket according to its instructions.
Then dip the mop inside of the bucket.
Let it soak, then start mopping the floor with the solution.
Sweep across the floor and try to get the solution within the grout lines as you go.
Once the floor has an even coat of stripping solution, let it rest for three to five minutes.
Step 4: Use Dry Mop To Remove Residue And Slurry
The dry mop will soak up the residue and slurry that the solution leaves behind.
You may need to switch mop heads often or change out the pads.
You don’t want to spread the slurry.
You just want to soak it up and remove it.
This process can take some time.
Step 5: Use Grout Cleaner With Solution
Dip the grout cleaner or toothbrush into the stripping solution.
Then start to scrub into the grout lines.
Try to brush from the center of the line towards the tile.
This will help push the wax to the tile’s surface for easier pick-up.
Step 6: Remove Residue And Slurry With Mop Again
Use a new dry mop to remove the fresh residue and slurry from the grout lines.
Step 7: Rinse With Fresh Water
In a clean bucket, put a new mop and rinse the tiled floor with fresh water.
You should also rinse the baseboards.
Take a fresh grout cleaner and scrub the grout lines with clean water to rinse them.
Let the floor dry overnight.
By the next day, it will be ready for waxing.
There are several methods you can use to strip a floor without using a machine.
Each method requires more hard labor and careful planning, but it’s possible to finish.
Follow these methods if you want to save money and forgo a floor stripping machine the next time you need to strip the floor.