Repair Water and Oil Stains on Wood

Edited by Ian Gabriel T. Tolledo, Anonymous, Lynn, Rob and 4 others

Dealing with water and oil stains on wood can be difficult, and it's painful to see stains on a once-flawless wood surface. Light-colored stains on wood furniture often result from steam or heat, such as those caused by a hot cup of coffee or hot food containers left on the table without a coaster. Dark stains may result when water is left on the wood for a long time. The minerals present in water can react with the tannins in the wood, leaving black stains behind. Black stains may also be caused by mold. These are often tough to remove, and you may need to refinish the wood after cleaning them. Stains from oil can ruin the finished surface and seep into the wood. If you notice an oil stain, remove the source as soon as possible to prevent it from seeping too deeply into the wood. Though these stains are tough to deal with, there are ways you can remove these unsightly marks from your prized wood with common household items and a great deal of patience.

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How to Remove Black Stains from Wood

Oxygen Bleach Solution

Oxygen bleach can help remove stains from wood, especially those from organic sources.

  1. 1
    Mix one scoop of oxygen bleach, such as OxiClean, into a cup of warm water.
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  2. 2
    Apply a bit of the oxygen bleach cleaner to the stain with a cloth or paint brush.
    Do not over-saturate the wood with the cleaner. Let the oxygen bleach sit for a few minutes.
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  3. 3
    Wipe away the cleaner with a wet cloth.
    Repeat the process until the stain is gone.
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  4. 4
    If the oxygen bleach lightens the wood too much, you can apply a bit to the entire surface to even out the color before rinsing.
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  5. 5
    Rinse the wood and dry it thoroughly.
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  6. 6
    Apply a thin layer of paste wax to the wood, and buff it to a shine with a soft cloth.
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Bleaching

You can bleach the wood with either chlorine bleach or an oxalic acid-based cleaner. Never use both at the same time, as they can react with each other and release hazardous fumes. If the black stains are caused by mold or another organic material, chlorine bleach is the best product to use. Oxalic acid-based cleaners such as wood bleach or Bar Keepers Friend are best for black stains that are caused by the iron present in water.

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  1. 1
    Carefully sand the wood with 100-grit sandpaper to remove the existing finish.
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  2. 2
    Put on a pair of gloves and apply the bleach product to the stained area.
    If you're using chlorine bleach, you can apply it directly to the wood with a paintbrush. If you're using oxalic acid, it often comes in powder form, which you'll need to reconstitute in water to make a paste. Apply the paste liberally to the stained area. Leave the bleach on for several hours or overnight.
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  3. 3
    Rinse the wood thoroughly with water.
    Depending on the severity of the stain, you may need to repeat the bleaching process a few times. If you plan to use another type of bleach after the other, make sure to rinse the wood very well to remove all traces of bleach.
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  4. 4
    Apply several light coats of a wood varnish that matches the original finish.
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  5. 5
    Feather the edges of the new varnish with fine steel wool to blend it with the old finish.
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  6. 6
    Polish the wood with a thin layer of paste wax and a soft cloth.
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Sanding

If the stains aren't too deep, you may be able to remove them by sanding. You'll need to use several different types of sandpaper and steel wool to achieve a desirable finish. You will have to replace the finish after sanding.

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  1. 1
    Briskly sand the stain with 100-grit sandpaper until the finish has been removed.
    Feather the edges with 150-grit sandpaper.
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  2. 2
    Lightly sand the stain with 150-grit sandpaper, and feather the edges with fine steel wool.
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  3. 3
    Wipe away the sanding dust.
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  4. 4
    Lightly coat the wood with a few layers of varnish that matches the original color.
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  5. 5
    Feather edges of the new varnish with fine steel wool to remove any leftover bumps.
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  6. 6
    Polish the newly refurbished wood with a thin layer of paste wax and a soft cloth.
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How to Remove White Stains from Wood

Water and Baking Soda

Baking soda can remove mild stains caused by water or steam.

  1. 1
    Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a bit of water to make a paste.
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  2. 2
    Apply the paste to the stain, and rub it with a cloth in small, circular motions until the stain is gone.
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  3. 3
    Rinse and dry the wood.
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Oil-Based Solution

Mineral oil, petroleum jelly, or mayonnaise can help remove white stains from wood that result from heat or steam. In most cases, they can draw the moisture out of the finish.

  1. 1
    Apply mineral oil, petroleum jelly, or mayonnaise to a soft rag.
    Rub it onto the stain while applying firm pressure. Take care not to get the oil or mayonnaise on the clean parts of the wood. Leave it on overnight.
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  2. 2
    Wipe off the wood with a damp cloth, and dry it.
    If the stain remains, you can repeat the process again.
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Remove Stains with Mineral Spirits

You can use a mild solvent such as mineral spirits or paint thinner to remove stains when less invasive options fail. Test it in a small, hidden area before using to make sure that it doesn't ruin the finish.

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  1. 1
    Put on a pair of gloves to protect your hands, and apply a small amount of mineral spirits or paint thinner to a rag in a well-ventilated area.
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  2. 2
    Wipe the stain gently with the rag until its gone.
    Don't press too hard or use too much solvent, as it can dissolve the finish.
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  3. 3
    Apply a thin layer of paste wax to the wood, and buff it to a shine with a soft cloth.
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Remove Stains with Heat

If other cleaning methods fail, you can draw out water or oil stains with heat as a last resort. You must take special care not to damage the wood. Follow the instructions exactly to avoid damage that can only be fixed by stripping and refinishing the wood.

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  1. 1
    Cover the stain with a clean, light-colored towel.
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  2. 2
    Heat an iron on the hottest setting with no steam.
    Place the iron onto the towel, and hold it there for no longer than 15 seconds.
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  3. 3
    Lift the towel to see if the stain is gone.
    If not, repeat the process a few times, moving the towel to a clean section each time. Check each time to make sure the stain is gone.
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Tips, Tricks, and Warnings

  • Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a mask if you'll be sanding or using solvents or bleach on the wood.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area when using solvents or bleach.
  • Scrubbing with effective commercial cleaners can also do the trick. However, If you try to take off a stain that has been sitting for a long time, these products might not work as well.
  • Dust your wood every week with a clean microfiber cloth.
  • Clean your wood at least once a year with hot, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. Reapply a paste wax to protect the finish.
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Black stains on hardwood steps?

We ripped up some old carpeting in the hallway and found some beautiful hardwood floors. It seems that a few of the steps have a large rough black stain that is irregular. It doesn't have a smell. I sanded light to see if it would lighten up, but it didn't seem to. The outer edges of the steps are intact. I don't want to take it down too far. I know it's going to have to be re-stained. The stains don't have a smell. Do you think it's mold? I did see a spot on the ceiling that may have dripped there once. How do I get the stains out?. I have tried: Just light sanding. I think it was caused by: I have no clue. I don't live there.

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Article Info

Categories : Home Repair

Recent edits by: Maria, Melissa Rae, Eng

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