How to Remove Stains from Wood

Wood flooring with stains from water damage

Wood furniture, counters, and floors are popular home decor choices. Oak, walnut, and other quality wood are uniquely beautiful and can add an elegant touch of style to your home decor. While wood is a timeless material, it requires maintenance and cleaning to keep it looking beautiful. Unfortunately, wood can stain easily. To prepare for the inevitable, you'll want to know how to remove a stain from wood.

Even if you've invested in recurring home cleaning services, you'll need to know a few tips and tricks to keep your wood floors and furniture looking their best. You'll need some cleaning supplies, wood stain remover, patience, and pro tips from the cleaning experts at Molly Maid. Here's how to remove stains from wood using safe but effective ingredients you likely have in your home.

How to Remove White Stains on Wood Caused by Moisture

Did a party guest forget to grab a coaster or have a little spill? Now there’s an unsightly white ring on your beautiful wood coffee table, and you know you must act fast. Fortunately, you have several options for removing a water stain on wood using everyday household items. Here are a few methods to try:

  • Apply whitening toothpaste to a soft cloth and rub it into the water ring in a circular motion. Wipe the toothpaste residue off and dry the wood.
  • Make a stain remover by adding enough water to baking soda to create a thick paste. Rub the stain gently with the paste using a soft cloth. Use a damp cloth to wipe up the residue and give the wood a quick buff. Apply petroleum jelly to the watermark and let it sit overnight. In the morning, wipe up the jelly, and the stain should come with it. Use a dry cloth to polish the wood until the stained area blends into the rest of the wood.
  • Mix a teaspoon of salt with several drops of water and apply onto the wood stain in a gentle, circular motion. Wipe off the residue with a damp cloth, and you're done. 
  • Dab a little car wax on more stubborn stains using your finger to trace the water ring. Let the wax dry, and buff the wood with a soft cloth.
  • Mix equal parts olive oil and distilled white vinegar and rub the stain using a soft cloth. Rub with the grain of the wood, wipe away the residue, and buff the wood to a shine.

Regardless of the wood stain remover used, always allow the wood to dry before applying any furniture polish or wax. Because white stains aren't only caused by moisture, it's good to know how to remove a stain from wood caused by heat, too.

How to Remove a White Stain on Wood Caused by Heat

Hopefully, it's obvious which culprit, heat or moisture, caused your stain because both types of stain can look the same. A heat stain, for example, can come from a hot cup of coffee, a bowl of soup, or a plate of leftovers fresh from the microwave. Take-out Chinese food, pizza, and other meals you have delivered can also leave a white mark on your wood furniture. White heat stains appear because excess heat causes the wood pores to expand, absorb moisture, and shrink.

 Here are some wood stain removal tips to help take the heat off! Keep in mind that you may have to repeat your stain removal efforts a few times.

  • Create a paste using non-gel toothpaste and baking soda. Rub the mixture into the wood, then wipe clean with a second damp cloth and dry immediately. You may need to repeat this process multiple times. When the mark is gone, revitalize the wood with furniture polish or oil.
  • Use mayonnaise for a quick and easy wood stain remover. Put a layer of mayonnaise on the stain, lay a paper towel over it, and let it sit for at least two hours. Wipe away the mayonnaise residue with a dry paper towel and give the wood a finishing shine.
  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and olive oil in a bowl and saturate the wood stain using a paper towel. Let the solution sit for an hour to release trapped moisture in the pores. Wipe off the residue with a soft cloth and buff the wood until the stained area blends in with the natural wood grain.

 Removing a stain from wood is pretty straightforward when heat and/or water stain the surface. Unfortunately, if you're dealing with a dark wood stain, you're going to have to dig a little deeper to successfully remove the stain.

How to Remove Dark Stains From Wood

You might wonder where it came from if you stumble across a dark stain on your wood floor or furniture. Unless a dyed item left the mark, it could be a water stain that has deeply penetrated the wood.

White rings form when water or steam damages the wood finish. However, black stains can develop if the water reaches the wood. As you can imagine, these stains are much more difficult to remove. Here are two methods to try:

  • Sand the dark stain with 100-grit sandpaper. To blend in the area, feather the edges with 150-grit sandpaper. Work with the grain, and don’t push too hard. Once you sand out the stain, apply several light coats of wood varnish that matches the original finish. Feather the edges with #0000 super fine steel wool to blend with the surrounding wood. Finish by buffing with quality wood polish.
  • Wearing rubber gloves, dip a brush into a bowl of bleach and apply it lightly to the stained area. Allow the bleach to sit for a few hours as the stain fades to its original color. Remove the bleach with a damp sponge, and apply vinegar to neutralize the wood and prevent further lightening. Let the wood dry and finish with a matching wood stain, if necessary, followed by a quality wood polish.

Of course, the best way to deal with wood stains is not to get them in the first place! Use coasters and trivets to protect your wood from water, heat, and dark stains.

Why Choose Molly Maid

For pro-level cleaning and stain removal in other areas of your home, trust the cleaning experts at Molly Maid. We are dedicated to providing the highest level of residential cleaning services and complete customer satisfaction. Our team is insured, licensed, and quality-checked to ensure you are 100% satisfied with the results.

To arrange house cleaning services near you, please contact your local Molly Maid or call us to request a free in-home estimate.