How to Clean Unfinished Wood? [Follow These Easy Steps]

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What is the difference between unfinished and finished wood? Why would anyone even buy unfinished wood? Is there a way to bring back the natural texture of wood? This article has all the answers you need!

An unfinished wood, also called raw wood, has no protective layer of stain or varnish over its surface. Hence, it is prone to scratches and dents. The simplest way to know whether the wood you own is unfinished or not, pour a few drops of water over it. If the drops don’t give a shine and tend to change the color of the wood for some time then it is unfinished.

How to Clean Unfinished Wood? [Follow These Easy Steps]

Tools to Keep Handy

Cleaning of unfinished wood requires a lot of sweeping and washing. Hence, we have provided a list of easy-to-use and easy-to-find tools you will need to complete the cleaning process.

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hard bristled brush
  • Microfiber Broom
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Renewal product
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bucket

Steps to Follow

No matter what liquids or powder you use, the steps are going to be the same. We have provided a full detailed description of the steps you need to follow to clean off any stain or debris on your unfinished wood. We have also mentioned, further in the article, which liquids and chemicals will guarantee to get the job done.

  1. Sweep away any kind of dust or debris on the surface of the wood.
  2. Use 120-grit sandpaper and sand down the surface. Always start from one corner or edge and move in the direction of the wood grains.
  3. Sweep away sawdust.
  4. Pour any kind of liquid (preferably the one among the many mentioned further in the article) into a bucket filled with warm water.
  5. Take a hard bristled brush and dip it in the solution.
  6. Clean the wood piece starting from one corner or edge. Make sure that you follow the direction of the grains and don’t go against it as going in the opposite direction would make the rise of the grain which definitely does not look good at all.
  7. You will also have to sprinkle an absorbent powder to absorb all the water that is resting over the wood surface. Don’t worry! You can find the list of absorbents further ahead in the article.
  8. To get rid of the powder, sweep with a microfiber cloth in circular patterns.
  9. After letting it dry for 10-15 minutes, gently sand down the surface again with 80-grit sandpaper.
  10. Broom away all the sawdust with a microfiber broom.
  11. Making sure that the surface is completely dry, pour your finishing or renewal product over the surface and spread it evenly throughout. You can do so by using a microfiber cloth.
  12. Leave it to dry for 2 hours before applying a second coat.

That’s it! Just follow these steps and see the natural texture of wood resurface gradually!

Chemicals and Absorbent Powders that Helps Clean Unfinished Wood

Below are the lists of chemicals and absorbent powders to use for the best results.

LiquidAbsorbentFinishing Product
Household Mild Detergent and VinegarBicarbonate of SodaOlive Oil
Black SoapPotato StarchKerosene
Vinegar and WaterCorn Starch or Corn MealOlive Oil

To remove stubborn stains – Trisodium Phosphate

To remove scratches and stains – Mineral sprite

Cleaning Products

There are some strong chemicals that are safe enough to be used as cleaning agents for unfinished wood. These products can be shopped online or by running errands to your local supermarket.

Remember that not all cleaners are favorable for all wooden surfaces.

  • Frosch Wood Cleaner
  • Natural Wood Floor Cleaner
  • DR3M X95 Cleaning Solution
  • Khadi Black Soap
  • Activated Charcoal Black soap
  • Borges Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Del Monte Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Always spot test each product. Pour a few drops on a small hidden part of the wood and see how it reacts.

Important Points to Keep in Mind


  • Furniture spray is supposed to bring out the shine of your wood, polish it and protect it but not all wood and wood renewal products are created equally. Different kinds of woods require a certain type of renewal product. Hence, wood finishers are not always going to be an all-in-one solution. Do your research or ask your local carpenter for advice?
  • Do not mop only with water. Unfinished wood has the ability to absorb water in a fraction of a second. The moisture causes bacterial and fungal growth that changes the entire look of the piece.
  • Do not use products for treated wood or finished wood. It is very important to read the specifications mentioned on the product. Make a wise decision and thank yourself later!
  • Avoid any cleaner that is made for sealed wood or urethane finished wood. These can cause the grains on the wood surface to raise up.


  • Do not repeat the sandpaper step too often. It might make the surface uneven.
  • Always start from one corner or edge of the wood piece.
  • Move-in the direction of wood grains.
  • Make sure your floor is evenly coated with the finishing or renewal product.
  • While using a microfiber broom or brush, do not scrub too hard.
  • Make sure to reach all corners and dents on the surface.
  • Be patient and don’t act on the wet surface. It has to dry before you apply the second coat of finishing product.
  • Vacuum the surface after sanding it down to get the debris stuck between the scratches and dents.
  • Always wear gloves while dealing with chemicals.
  • Read instructions on the product containers.


As unfinished wood is easily stained, one must take precautions such as:

  • Using coasters for drinks.
  • Using a table mat or a table sheet before you start dining.
  • Not dragging objects over the surface.
  • As minimum as possible, liquid on the surface.
  • Weekly cleaning.


People who buy unfinished wood furniture are the ones who love to incorporate their personal style into the room. One can design and paint as they wish and show it off to their friends and family, but with great freedom comes great responsibilities too.

The look of natural wood is priceless hence we need to take efforts to maintain it! We hope this article on how to clean unfinished wood will help you recover a fresh surface on the piece. Happy cleaning!

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