When spills happen, some cleaning solution and a little bit of elbow grease could be enough to get it cleaned up. However, if spills are left unattended or unnoticed, they can sometimes be enough to stain otherwise beautiful hardwood floors. At Commercial Floor Services, we know that even regular wood care and cleaning can’t stop accidents that leave unsightly stains. Hardwood floors see a lot of traffic wear and tear, so spills and dirt are inevitable. Knowing how to remove the stains left behind after spills can keep your floors looking and feeling good as new. 

This guide will help you know how to remove the 5 most common stains from your hardwood floors. 

  1. White Rings and Watermarks 

The first step in removing these types of stains should be to let it dry for a day or two to see if it disappears on its own. White rings from water are typically easy to remove because the white color indicates that the stain is only on the surface of the wood and hasn’t seeped into the floor’s finish. 

The method for removing these stains if they don’t go away by themselves is dependent on the type of finish on your hardwood. Surface finish, which is more common in newer homes, sits on the surface of the wood. A penetrating finish, which is typically found in older homes, seeps deeper into the wood itself. For a surface finish, cover the stain with a dry cloth and rub it with an iron for a few seconds. Then, dampen a cloth with some denatured alcohol and gently scrub the stain in the same direction of the wood grain. For penetrating finishes, the stain may be more challenging to remove, but some fine steel wool (ideally #000) and some gently rubbing on the surface will likely remove the stain. 

  1. Dark Spots 

Black rings or darker water spots can be slightly more problematic but are still entirely removable. The dark stains are a sign that the finish of the wood has been penetrated rather than just the surface. 

A small amount of bleach diluted with water can be applied with a toothbrush to lighten the stain, although this should be done carefully as it can lighten the entire floor area where it is used. Alternatively, if the stain covers a larger area or the bleach isn’t enough to remove it to your liking, you can strip, sand, and reseal the area. This entails applying a chemical stripper to the area to remove the finish, sanding down the area, including the stain itself to remove any excess stain and stripper, and resealing the area. 

  1. Heat Stains 

Heat can be just as likely to leave unsightly stains on your hardwood as water. When the heat from a surface combines with the existing moisture in your hardwood, it can leave white rings or stains on your floors. 

To remove heat stains, clean the stained area with a damp cloth and let it dry, then grab some non-gel toothpaste and some baking soda, mix equal parts into a paste, and gently rub the paste onto the stain with a dry cloth. Let the paste sit on the stained area for 10 minutes before you wipe it away. If the stain is still visible once the paste is removed and the area has dried, repeat the process. It should be noted that baking soda is a mild abrasive, so go easy on the scrubbing to avoid scratching and further damaging the floors. 

  1. Grease Stains 

For greasy stains like oil or butter, it’s important to go easy on the moisture and take time to let the area dry properly. This will prevent the stain from worsening or spreading. 

To remove the stain, rubbing the area with a rag and kitchen soap with a high lye content could be enough to do the trick. If the stain is still present, saturate a rag or cotton ball with hydrogen peroxide and set it on the stain. Then, soak another rag or cotton ball with ammonia and place it over the first piece of cloth. Let it sit for a few minutes and repeat the process until the stain is gone. 

  1. Other Non-Greasy Stains 

For other general non-greasy stains such as food or nail polish, dish detergent and warm water on a cloth should remove the stain as long as it hasn’t been set. If the stain is more severe, stripping, sanding, and resealing the area similar to the solution for dark spots may be necessary. 

Now that you know how to remove stains from your hardwood floors check out our other helpful guides to all things flooring-related. If these tips and tricks to removing stains from your flooring aren’t enough to do the job, Commercial Floor Services can help.