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How To Remove Wood Stains

Wood Stain Removal

Wood floors enhance both the beauty and the value of your home. It’s amazing how popular hard wood floors have become. However, they can be difficult to clean, and seem near impossible to remove a stain after it has set in. But if you know how to properly remove the stain, you can salvage your floors from the time and expensive of a full stripping, sanding, and finishing.

Steel Wool Warning

Often, it’s recommended that you use steel wool to assist in the stain removal process. It’s very important that you check to ensure that you have the proper grade of steel wool. Anything too harsh and you’re likely to do more harm than good. Never use anything other than Super Fine, or 000, grade steel wool when working on your wood floor stains.

General Scratches, Dull Finish Areas, and Imperfections

While these aren’t truly stains in the most general sense of the word, they can appear as such from a distance and thus mar the overall look of the wood floor. Most light scratches can be covered using a very small amount of wax on your super fine grade steel wool. Rub very gently into the affected area, and wipe any excess with a dry cloth. If necessary, buff the area to make the wax match the rest of the floor’s finish.

If a cleanser has dulled the finish of your wood floor, you can usually buff it back to its original luster with a wipe-on oil for wood such as tung oil (this and other oils can be found at your local home improvement store). Use a soft cloth to apply the oil, buff the area, and your floor will be looking like new once again.

Name That Stain!

The first step in knowing what type of product/method you should use to remove the stain on your wood floor is to know what caused the stain in the first place. This can be particularly important with liquids, where the contents of the liquid (protein vs. acid) can be crucial to know what exactly needs to be done. This may require a bit of detective work on your part, particularly if the stain has aged. But the time spent can mean the difference between a relatively quick cleanup and completely refinishing the floor.

Protein Stains – Foods, Beverages, and Urine

Protein stains can become seemingly commonplace on wood floors, particularly if you have children and/or pets. The first step with a protein-based stain is to cleanse the floor thoroughly with a mild detergent and warm water. This will allow you to clear off the worst of the staining material. If any stain remains, rub the stain with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol to lift out the stain. If you still can’t get all of the stain, try a commercial wood cleaner that can be found at your local home improvement store; be sure to ask a flooring specialist for the right cleaner for your wood.

Greasy and Oily Stains

Since wood floors are porous surfaces, grease and oil can penetrate and cause a lasting stain very quickly. It’s important to act immediately to prevent permanent damage to the wood. For kitchen grease, immediately put ice on the spill. Then once the grease has coagulated, scrape up with a dull knife. For oils, as soon as the spill is discovered, blot up as much of the stained area as possible with paper towel or newspaper. Place a cloth soaked in wood cleaning solvent (available from your local home improvement store) on the stain and let sit for 5 minutes. Wipe away, and clean as necessary.

Crayons and Markers

If you bundle of joy decided to show you that she’s a budding Picasso across your maple entryway, all is not lost. For crayons, simply head to your bathroom and grab your tube of toothpaste. Gently rub the crayon markings with a damp cloth and some toothpaste. Be sure to wipe any residual off with a clean damp cloth and then dry thoroughly. If for some reason the crayon markings remain, try Goo Gone, a commercial product that can work wonders for crayons and other grease-based stains like lipstick.

For markers, things can be a bit trickier. If the marker has penetrated into the wood, you may be facing the need to refinish that area. However, most wood floor finishes are strong enough to keep the marker from reaching the wood itself. Try a commercial solvent like Goof Off, which should remove the marker marks without destroying the finish (always check in an inconspicuous area first, of course).

Enjoy your beautiful hard wood floor knowing that, should a stain occur, you can quickly and easily take care of it without causing any permanent damage.


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Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Mrs Clean (Corina Wilson) is not only the owner of the company, but a very busy mother of 3 children.

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Mrs Clean realized long ago, that a clean home is a necessity, not a luxury when we are struggling to find the time in our day to cover the very basic levels of work and/or family obligations. The battle seems to never end... (but that's why we're here to help!)

When Mrs Clean is not busy managing her house cleaning company or running her kids back and forth to their events, she enjoys experimenting with natural and non-toxic cleaners and learning new techniques to remove stains.

She thoroughly enjoys sharing her valuable information with the readers of her blogs and various social media sites.

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