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How To Remove Stains From Wood Floors – White/Dark/Greasy


Wood floors add charm to any style of home decor– be it contemporary, boho, or traditional. It has its own natural beauty to it that lends a cozy vibe to space without being very high-maintenance. But over time, you do notice some wear and tear, which requires refinishing. Apart from that, another thing that is inevitable on wood floors is stains.

The wood floor is at the receiving end of your muddy or snowy boots, water or oil spills, food, and much more. Most of these stains are a wipe away from disappearing from the floor, but if you leave them unattended, they can leave a somewhat permanent mark. This happens because the stains get time to permeate the wood floor’s finish.

This isn’t the best scenario for your beautiful oak flooring to be in. But don’t be disheartened. There are easy ways to remove these unsightly stains depending on the type of the stain and how deep it has penetrated into the wood floor. Follow the tips we have listed on how to remove stains from wood floors to get them looking as good as new.

Remove Stains From Wood Floors

Determine The Type Of Stain

how to remove dark stains from wood

This should be the first step of your investigation as a stain remover. Only once you are able to know who the culprit behind the stain is will you be able to dispense justice. This is not very difficult to do. First, the color of the stain can tell you a lot about how deep inside the wood floor it is. If the stain is white, then it hasn’t penetrated the finish of the wood floor. It is caused by water and is only on the waxy top layer of the finish.

Say, in case you are not able to determine the type of the stain, contact a professional (the floor manufacturer or a cleaning service). That is better than identifying it wrong and using a cleaning method that may end up causing more damage to the wood.

The type of wood also plays an important role in determining the route you will take to remove the stains. If the stains appear to be only on the surface, then it is most probable that it is a hardwood floor. Alternatively, if the stain looks as if it has penetrated deep into the layers of the wood, then it most likely is a soft-oil finish.

Tackling Water Or White Rings On Wood Rings

how to remove black water stains from hardwood floors

Now that you are aware of the culprit and its characteristics, it is easier for you to levy appropriate charges. It is advisable that you first let the stain dry for up to two days and allow it to disappear on its own. If that doesn’t happen, white rings can easily be removed as they are still just at the wood finish level and haven’t gone through the wood floor.

Another thing to know before getting to choose a method to remove them is to find out whether your wood floor is waxed or surface finished. The former is usually found in older homes. If yours is a waxed wood flooring, consider using #00 steel wool and wax. Rub the white water ring very carefully and gently with the steel wool and wax until the stain disappears.

If the stain is stubborn enough to be there still, move to fine sandpaper instead. Sand the affected area lightly until the stain is removed. After this, clean the sanded area with steel wool and your preferred cleaner or spirits. It is crucial to let the floor dry entirely after this before you go on to match the stain to the rest of the wood floor, re-apply the wax, and buff it by hand.

Removing Dark Water Stains From Wood Floors

how to remove stain from hardwood floors without sanding

These stains are slightly more of a problem than white watermarks are because of the simple reason that they have made their way through the wood’s finish. But fear not, they just involve more tedious tasks but can be removed from wood floors. The first trick is to find a small brush like an old toothbrush, dip it in a bleach solution (less goes a long way), and then rub it on the affected area.

After the first round of rubbing gently with bleach, repeat the process after letting it sit for three to four hours. Then, allow the area to dry completely till the next day to observe the results. An alternative strategy is to dampen a cloth in warm water to wipe the stained wood. Then, soak another cloth in vinegar and rub it over the stain for some time. This is an environment-friendly and inexpensive way to remove stains from hardwood floors.

You can even sand, stain, and reseal the stained portion of wood, but that is a more tedious and expensive way to fix the dark stains.

Removing Other Types Of Stains

how to remove oil stains from wood floors

Stains resulting from other things apart from water, such as food, nail polish, or other non-greasy items, can be easily removed using some wood cleaner and warm water. Dishwashing liquid works equally well; just rub it on the stain with a cotton cloth until it goes away.

If the stain was caused by oil or other greasy things, hydrogen peroxide works best. Soak a cotton cloth in hydrogen peroxide and let it sit over the stain until you see that the stain has gone. Place another cotton cloth saturated with ammonia over the peroxide.

Our Take

Stains on wood floors are inevitable if you aren’t a robot who doesn’t make mistakes! But the good part is that these stains, depending on what they were a result of and how deep they have soaked, can be removed if you follow the steps given here and general guidelines for cleaning wood floors.

Be careful with the amount of moisture you put the wood through, as that always has the potential to cause more trouble. Make sure you only use a cleaner explicitly meant for the type of wood and finish the floor has. So now that you know how to remove stains from wood floors say hello to a floor where you can’t tell whether the stain was ever there!

Claudia Boyd

Claudia Boyd loves to keep the floor shiny and clean. She knows so many homemade methods and techniques to make the floor clean without any damage. You can check her work at floorsadvisor.

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