How To Remove Stains From Wood: A Complete Guide

Everything you need to know to remove stain from wood, from removing unwanted wood stains to stripping wood stain. No wood stain too tough.

Lifting common household stains from wooden furniture can seem like a difficult, time-consuming task. But it can actually be a satisfying project if you have a few basic tools on hand.

These are our favorite tips on how to remove stain from wood to leave your furniture looking as good as new.

If this all looks like too much work, you can always book an affordable, professional cleaner with Homeaglow.

Before you start

Whether you want to vanish away those annoying heat stains, alcohol stains, or sharpie marks from wooden furniture, it will be helpful if you have a few basics on hand before you begin. Depending on the stain you want to remove, you may need

  • Cooking oil
  • Toothpaste
  • Nail polish remover
  • Magic eraser
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Basking soda

How to remove alcohol stains from wood

Alcohol stains typically appear as white stains on your furniture. Depending on the type of wood and wood finish, you may need to sand and refinish this surface to get it back to its original state.

On the other hand, it could be as simple as applying some kitchen cooking oil. Any oil will work for this method, including olive oil, coconut oil, and canola. You could even try essential oils such as lemon or orange which have strong cleaning properties.

Dip a clean cloth into your oil of choice, and rub at the stain until it has vanished. Wipe the surface down with a microfiber cloth and finish with a protective furniture spray.

If this method doesn’t work on the alcohol stain, you can follow the steps right down the bottom on how to remove stain from wood and get your furniture back to its original state.

How to get sharpie off wood

Sharpie markers are designed to be permanent, which is a problem if they find their way onto your wooden furniture. 

Depending on the type of wood (or the type of finish on the wood surface) there are a few different methods you can try to remove these marker marks.

  • White toothpaste — if the sharpie mark isn’t too bad, rubbing the stain with toothpaste and a clean cloth can be enough to remove it
  • Nail polish remover (acetone) — wet a clean cloth with acetone and rub the sharpie stain until it has gone. Acetone is a strong solution, so use this with caution.
  • Magic eraser — simply wet your magic eraser and work at the sharpie mark until it’s gone
  • Rubbing alcohol — this won’t harm wooden surfaces, and it’s a powerful way to remove stubborn sharpie stains
  • Hand sanitizer — most hand sanitizers contain a decent amount of alcohol, which can lift sharpie marks out of wood. Simply apply the sanitizer to the stain and then rub it away using a clean cloth

How to get heat stains off wood

If you discover a white ring on your wood furniture or bench top, chances are it’s a heat stain caused by a hot cup or pan. You can remove these marks from most wooden surfaces by mixing baking soda and white toothpaste into a paste and using this as a cleaning solution. 

Dip a clean cloth into the paste and rub at the stain for a couple of minutes. Wipe it clean with a fresh cloth, and dry it. If the stain hasn’t gone, repeat the process until all traces have been removed. Follow this up with a protective furniture polish to prevent further stains.

How to get water stains off wood

Glasses of water, juice, and soda can all leave unsightly ring stains on wooden tables. Depending on the type of wood and wood finish, there are a few methods you can try to lift these stains.

  • Petroleum jelly — apply a thin layer to the stain and leave it on overnight. Wipe this off the next morning with a clean cloth, and the stain should be gone.
  • White toothpaste — squeeze some toothpaste onto a clean cloth and rub this into the water stain. Leave this on for a couple of minutes, then wipe it off and leave the wood to dry. Clean the wood with furniture polish, and this should remove the stain completely.
  • Baking soda — it’s not just for cleaning grouting and getting coffee stains out of carpet, you can also mix up a quick solution that will remove water stains from your furniture. In a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and enough water to create a spreadable paste. With a clean cloth, apply the paste to the wood and rub the stain until it disappears. Clean the area with a microfiber cloth when you’re done.

Removing common stains from wood doesn’t need to be a chore 

Wood surfaces in your home can be high traffic areas, so they’re bound to get stained by things like alcohol, sharpies, water, and heat at some point. 

We hope you find these tips helpful to remove some of the most common wood stains, and to strip and remove stain from wood surfaces if you need to refinish them.

The Homeaglow team is always available to help you keep the wooden surfaces in your home in top shape. Find and book your perfect cleaner online today.

How to remove tough stain from wood

If you couldn't get your stain out with the above instructions, or you want remove stain that was intentionally applied, you can try the following more intensive approach.

What you’ll need

  • An old sheet or drop cloth
  • Suitable gloves for dealing with solvents
  • Safety glasses
  • Safety mask
  • Plastic scraper
  • Steel wool
  • Natural bristle paint brushes
  • Sandpaper — medium and fine grit
  • Sanding block
  • Commercial wood stripper
  • Old rags

How to remove the wood stain

Chances are there will be a coat of varnish over the top of the actual wood stain that you’ll need to remove first. This is where a good chemical stripper comes in handy. You can find stripper in pots of various sizes in hardware stores.

Wood stripping chemicals can be harsh on your lungs, skin, and eyes, so ensure your workspace has good ventilation, and that you protect yourself with long sleeves, safety goggles, a respirator mask, and chemical—safe gloves as you work. An airy outdoor space also works well if you don’t have a mask or goggles on hand.

Lay down your drop cloth under the wood before you start applying any chemical stripper to protect your flooring. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using your stripper, then apply the solvent with a natural-bristle paint brush. 

Ensure the entire surface is covered with a thick, even layer of chemical, then leave the solvent on for around 30 minutes (or as per the manufacturer’s instructions). 

Now for the fun bit. Grab your plastic scraper and begin working on the wood to remove the varnish layer and wood stain. Work in sections across the wood surface until the varnish and stain has been peeled off.

Following the wood grain, use your steel wool dipped in a bit of the stripping solution and work your way down the wood surface again. Once you’re done, wipe everything down with an old, wet rag. Leave the wood to dry overnight.

When you’re satisfied that the wood is completely dry, it’s time to start sanding it down. Fire up your electric sander, or wrap some medium-grit sandpaper around your sanding block and firmly sand the wood until all of the existing stain has gone. This will reveal the beautiful, natural wood that has been hiding under the stain.

Finish up by sanding the surface with fine grit sandpaper to remove any scratches and smooth the surface. Wipe the wood down with a clean, wet rag, and you’re ready to either re-varnish, paint, or coat the surface of the wood as you choose.

Help your wood furniture and floors sparkle

If you need any help cleaning your wood furnishing or floors, we can help. Book an affordable, top-rated cleaner in your area with Homeaglow. 

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