Remove Stain from Wood

How to a Remove Stain from Wood — Complete Guide 

If wood is taken care of properly and isn’t exposed to any sort of insects or other hazards that could potentially harm the wood, it’s a timeless and faithful material. It’s going to stick around in good condition for a pretty long time.

Oh, but I was careless and now there’s an ugly white ring on my bookshelf!

Is that something to worry about? Absolutely not!

Stains on wood is a common problem. It’s almost as if you can’t prevent it from happening. No matter how hard you try, you will end up accidentally putting a cup of tea on your wooden coffee table, or your wooden front door will be exposed to outdoor air moisture just like that — you can’t help it.

Even though this is an actual and widespread problem, people usually make a big deal out of it because they don’t know all the easy solutions to fix these mishaps in their homes.

These fixes are still not common knowledge, especially for those that haven’t really had much interaction with wooden products before. This is why we’re here to help you get on track to fix all the unnecessary discolorations or flaws in your wooden products.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to remove a stain from wood, no matter what caused it. So, let’s jump into it right away.

What Causes Stains on Woods?

You might have noticed that there’s a round, cup-sized, light-coloured or offwhite stain on your bookshelf. You might not remember what caused it, but you still want to fix it as quickly as possible!

One important thing to remember about all these marks on your wood is that they can be caused by a number of sources. As one may assume, as the sources of the mishaps vary, so do the fixes. So, to be able to repair it with the right solutions, it’s necessary to identify what caused the discolouration or flaw in the first place.

Here we have listed some of the most common causes of wood stains:

  • Heat Stains — Heats stains are extremely common. They’re caused when you leave a hot plate, mug, or other heat element to rest on your tabletops without putting a cup coaster under it. There can be a number of other causes for this as well, but the result is always the formation of a cloudy spot.
  • Moisture Stains — Moisture stains are yet again caused by similar causes. When a hot cup is made to rest on top of a table, the water from the heat of the cup condenses, either in the form of moisture when it’s cold, or steam when it’s hot.

In either case, the moisture then causes formation of white spots on wood.

  • Water Stains — Again, this is a stain caused from very similar reasons! Light discoloration from water stains could be the result of either direct water spills, or indirect heat and moisture marks.
  • Dark or Black Stains — Interestingly, these are also a form of water stains. This dark discoloration of the previously white stains into black spots is caused when the wet element is left for a long time.

When water is allowed to sit on the wood surface, it gradually seeps into the lower levels of wood, creating brown-black stains. So, darker spots indicate deeper penetration of water.

  • Ink or Dye Stains — As the name suggests, ink and dye stains are caused by spills from pens, markers, ink pots, raw cloth-dyes, and so on. They’re easily preventable, but they’re also pretty removable.
  • Wax or Gum Stains — Speaking for itself, wax stains are usually the result of dripped wax from candles or tarts, whereas gum stains are of course caused by chewing gum.
  • Others — Naturally, there are many more items that could end up staining your wooden furniture, including oil, grease, paint, and even lipsticks, crayons, UV damage, and more.

A lot of the solutions to remove these stains are applicable on more than one type of stain. However most stains are either caused by a water-based source or an oil-based source.

Easy Fixes at Home!

Our goal is to help you determine the right fixes for your discoloured wooden furniture, or any other product, so that it looks good as new.

Below we have provided all the best possible and the most popular solutions for wood stains, so that you can remove all the ugly looking spots and marks from your furniture:

  • Using an Iron — This is the most effective method to remove white rings or water-caused discolorations from wood. The white color of the stains reveals that water or moisture hasn’t seeped too deep into the wood and is only present below the polished surface. So, it’s comparatively easier to take it out.

When you use an iron, you basically absorb any sort of moisture from the wood. For this reason, it’s necessary to make sure that your iron is completely dry, especially if it’s a steam iron.

Once you’re sure of that, place any cloth or fabric over the stain, and iron it. Keep removing the cloth every now and then to check if the stain is gone, and continue ironing until you get your desired results.

  • Using a Hair Dryer — A dryer works just like an iron. Turn it to a high temperature and hold it close to the stain so that the moisture can start drying up. 

You’ll notice that the stain gradually starts fading in the span of 10 to 30 minutes.

  • Using Petroleum Jelly — Another method to get rid of white water stains is by applying petroleum jelly over it and letting it sit overnight.

The next morning, wipe the petroleum jelly off and the stain should come off as well.

  • Applying Toothpaste — You can also remove water stains by wiping them off with a small amount of toothpaste along with the help of a soft cloth or your finger.

Keep rubbing gently until the cloth or finger is warm and until the stain is gone. Then wipe the surface of the wood with a damp cloth to clean the toothpaste (be sure to dry it afterwards).

Never use non-white or gel toothpastes for this purpose.

  • Making a Baking Soda Paste — Mix two parts baking soda with one part water to make a paste. Then apply this paste the exact way you applied the toothpaste!

If this doesn’t do the magic, you can also substitute the water with non-gel, white toothpaste for this homemade paste.

  • Alternative Baking Soda Paste — Mix equal parts baking soda with lemon juice or vinegar. This paste is best for darker marks that are caused by penetrated moisture or ink.
  • Using Bleach — If the water marks have turned black, you can remove them by bleaching the area slightly. Use a sponge for this procedure. This is also effective for black marks caused by dyes.

Please don’t forget to wear gloves for your protection!

  • Using Dishwashing Detergent — This works best for most stains that are non-greasy in nature. 

Simply soak water in a piece of cloth, add an adequate amount of detergent to it, and wipe off the stained surface of wood until the spot has disappeared.

  • Sanding — Is nothing else working out for you? Just sand the surface!

Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You need to be very careful with this procedure. Take a 100-grit sandpaper (preferably), and slide rather gently on the surface and try to blend it out with the remaining surface.

This is only suitable for dark spots that aren’t coming out any other way. Unfortunately, this will likely require that you re-finish the piece.

  • Rubbing Ice — Although the easiest one, this solution is only applicable on things like gums and waxes that stick to woods and don’t come off easily. 

Wrap an ice cube in a piece of cloth and keep rubbing it over the wax or gum, until it becomes soft and falls off. Scratching it otherwise may damage the wood.

What makes all of these remedies easy is that the products involved are all available at your home all the time. So, you don’t have to go out of your way to purchase them!

How to Keep Your Wood Safe

Don’t forget: prevention is the best cure!

Well, you probably haven’t heard this phrase apply anywhere other than medicines, but it is what it is, and it stands true for many things.

So, of course, keep cup coasters on your furniture, put your candles in durable candle stands, and don’t let your kids sneakily stick gum under the tables!

But again, if something of this sort does happen, don’t discard your wooden items or carry them to a carpenter — just try out these home fixes to get rid of them!

Extended Help

While these remedies do work, some stains are too rigid and won’t just fade away no matter what you do.

In that case, there are a number of wood-stain removing products available in the market! Just purchase the suitable one, and use it as instructed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Sanding the Surface Damage the Wood?

Sanding will only damage wood if it’s done carelessly.

In fact, this is a process of making the wood surface smoother.

Yes, it involves smoothing out the surface fibers of the wood, but the end result is a cleaner surface. The shine of the furniture is dulled but no real harm is done to the wood.

Is Bleaching the Wood Surface Harmful?

With care, bleaching isn’t usually harmful.

Bleaching can make the paint or polished finish of the wood furniture go away, but it’s rare for the wood itself to be damaged. However, if too much bleach is used, it’s possible for fading to occur.

Should I Polish the Surface Everytime I Remove a Stain?

No, this isn’t really a necessity.

Unless you’re using products that leave a mark themselves, like bleach or sand paper, you don’t have to polish the surface or give it a new finish.

Then, How Often Should I Polish My Wooden Items?

According to most experts, it’s good to polish your wooden furniture about every six weeks.

For further information regarding when to polish your wood, you should ask your carpenter, or any other trusted source, to tell you how often to use wood polish.

If you need to buy them any soon, here are our favorite wood polishes, that are easily available in the market today:

Final Thoughts

For a lot of people out there, stained wooden furniture just gets on their nerves. The reason is that they think the remedies are not present at their homes. They’re unaware of all the home based solutions we’ve come up with to date.

Again, the best way around this problem is by avoiding the stains and discolorations in the first place. Take good care of your wooden furniture, ornaments, and other items to save yourself the trouble of staining the furniture in the first place. However, if you do get a stain it’s not the end of the world.

Now that you’ve read this guide we hope that you now know exactly how to make your products good as new without causing any further damage to your woods!