How to Clean Unfinished Wood

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clean unfinished wood

While unfinished wood can look beautiful, cleaning it requires finesse.

Unsealed wood is highly porous, meaning it absorbs liquid instead of repelling it.

As you can guess, this type of wood is much more at risk for water damage, mold, and staining. Because of this, harsh cleaners are out of the question.

Instead, here’s how to clean unfinished wood without damaging it.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Unfinished Wood?

The safest way to clean unfinished wood is to dust it with a dry cloth or duster. If you need to clean up dirty or sticky spots, use a mild cleaner like water and dish soap. After you’ve wiped down your wood piece, dry it with a fresh towel.

4 Ways to Clean Unfinished Wood

ways to clean unfinished wood

Use a Duster or Dry Cloth

For everyday cleaning, use a duster or dry cloth on your unfinished wood surfaces. This will remove any dirt build-up without damaging the wood.

Clean with a Vacuum

Another way to dry clean your unfinished wood is with a vacuum. This works well for wood pieces that have a lot of nooks and crannies. 

Simply use your vacuum attachment with the soft-bristled brush and sweep up all the dust and dirt.

Try Soap and Water

If there’s been a spill or you’re dealing with sticky residue, clean your untreated wood with dish soap and water. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Add a couple of drops of  Dawn dish soap to a bowl of water
  • Dampen a cloth with this solution
  • Gently scrub up the mess
  • Dry with a fresh cloth

Disinfect with Vinegar and Water

Most disinfecting cleaners are too harsh to use on unfinished wood. One option that might work is a vinegar and water mixture. 

To disinfect your unfinished wood, mix half white distilled vinegar and half water and place in a spray bottle. Lightly spray the surface you need to clean and wipe dry with a fresh cloth.

Don’t oversaturate your wood with this mixture. Also, spot-check in an inconspicuous area before cleaning to ensure the vinegar doesn’t affect the color of the wood.

How Do You Clean Unfinished Wood Floors?

While beautiful, unfinished wood floors are harder to care for and are especially prone to water damage.

This is why the best way to clean them involves dry mopping and vacuuming.

Here are the best tips for keeping your unfinished wood floors in great shape:

  • Immediately clean up spills. (Failure to do so can lead to warping and black spots.)
  • Dry mop daily or as needed.
  • Spot clean dirty spots with water and mild dish soap.

If you need to disinfect your floors, try a combination of half-white distilled vinegar and half water. Before you get started, test this solution in an inconspicuous area.

If the vinegar solution doesn’t cause an adverse reaction, dampen a mop with the solution and mop the floor in small sections. If there’s any water left standing on the floor, dry it with a towel.

Frequently Asked Questions

faqs how to clean unfinished wood

Can you use Pinesol on unfinished wood?

No, you cannot use Pinesol on unfinished wood. The best way to clean unfinished wood is by dusting or using a dry mop and then spot cleaning with water and mild dish soap. Harsh cleaners can damage and change the color of unfinished wood.

How do you make unfinished wood floors shine?

Making unfinished wood floors shine without adding wax or topcoat is nearly impossible. In fact, those who love unfinished wood floors usually do so because they like the matte, rustic look.

If you want your wood floors to shine, consider adding a shiny topcoat to them.

How do you clean rough wood?

The best way to clean rough wood is with a duster and vacuum. You can use the duster to loosen up stuck-on dirt and cobwebs and a vacuum to remove them.


Cleaning unfinished wood is much more challenging than you might think. Since this type of wood is porous and can absorb liquids, you have to be careful not to oversaturate your pieces.

If you’re dealing with unfinished wood floors, you need to be even more cautious, staying on top of spills and regularly dry mopping.

Photo of author


Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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