How to Get Stains Out of Hardwood Floors: 7 Types of Stains and their Solutions

Have you noticed that some stains on your hardwood floors don’t go away with time? And no matter what you do, you can’t get those grime stains out of your floor?

That means your hardwood floors have “scratches” and discolorations caused by various things.

As we all know, stains happen whether caused by animal urine, food spillage, from a toddler family member, or party guests.

The good news is that it is possible to remove them from your hardwood floor.

In a hurry? Do these quick stain removal methods to get common stains out of your hardwood.

How to Get Stains out of Hardwood Floor

  • Remove the stain by applying some white distilled vinegar with a sponge mop.

In addition to its bleaching abilities, white distilled vinegar can remove tough stains like wine stains and marker pens from light-colored surfaces such as tinted sheetrock and silk wallpaper.

  • Apply a paste of baking soda and white distilled vinegar to the stained areas.
  • Let this mix sit for about an hour and then wipe clean with a soft cloth or a dry cloth.

When you have hardwood floors, stains can be a problem because it is so easy for them to get on the floor and they may not come out easily later on damaging your beautiful flooring.

The methods highlighted in this article can be used for all types of wood flooring material including laminate, solid oak, maple, pine, butternut, and other types of wood.

Different Types of Stains and Best Ways to Remove Stains From Hardwood Floors

1. Dark stains

  • With a sponge mop, apply a hydrogen peroxide solution of one cup to one gallon distilled water.
  • Repeat several times to remove stubborn stains including heat stains.

2. Old or tough brownish-yellowish marks

  • Use baking soda mixed with equal amounts of distilled vinegar.
  •  Apply using a clean cloth or wet mop.
  • Let it sit for an hour so that all the dirt from within is dissolved out and then wipe off with a dry towel or cloth.

To prevent further damage from occurring, you should vacuum your floors regularly especially if you have pets in your home.

Pet hair and pet stains can cause permanent black stains on your hardwood flooring.

3. White water rings

Water white stains can be unsightly on your wooden floors and could last for months or even years.

  • Take some petroleum jelly or lemon oil and rub it over the ring using a soft toothbrush.
  •  Wipe it off with a dry towel.

4. Dark water stains

Dark water stains are usually difficult to remove if they have dried a lot because they may penetrate the wood pores.

  • The first step is to blot up spilled liquids.
  • Once the liquid is dry, sweep or mop the hardwood floor thoroughly.
  • Next step is to create a cleaning solution by mixing warm water and mild dish detergent.
  • Dip cloth towels or sponge into the cleaning solution
  • Apply to mark stain until spot is saturated.
  • Rinse the area with warm water until all of the cleaning solutions has been rinsed off
  • Allow the floor to dry completely.
  • If there are any streaks of cleaning solution on the wood, buff them out by hand with a clean, soft microfiber cloth or paper towel.

5. Oil stains

Oil stains happen when you leave greasy items like oil, butter, or lotion on the floor for a long time.

If the spill is less than 24 hours old, there’s a good chance it can be removed without destroying your flooring.

  • Wipe up the grease with a terry cloth or paper towels.
  • With a clean towel or damp cloth, blot the remaining stain with warm water and dish soap.
  • Once the stain is lifted, dry the area completely with a hairdryer.

 If the stain remains

  • Mix 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar with 1 cup warm water and rub it onto the spot using a cotton ball.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on top of the wet surface before sweeping or vacuuming it up.
  • Leave the baking soda on overnight, then vacuum it up the next day.

6.  Pet urine stain

  • Mix 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of ammonia in the ratio 1:3.
  • Apply it to the affected areas with a steam mop.
  • Repeat several times to eventually eliminate all traces of pet urine stains from your wooden floors.

7. Dark stains due to regular wear and tear

This type of stain is tough to remove but can be done using a wood bleach product specifically designed for black marks.

  • Mix the wood bleach with water-based cleaner or distilled water in an even ratio of 1:1.
  • Apply it on the affected areas with a sponge mop until all traces of stain have been removed.

8. Badly soiled wood floors         

  • Using a vacuum, clean the new and old wood floor and remove any dust or debris.
  • Use a floor sander with an orbit action to sand the entire floor. Move the sander in a circular motion.

NOTE: Use steel wool if you don’t have a floor sander.

  • Fill in and sand down any holes or scratches.
  • Use a filler that’s formulated for wood floors and fill in the damaged area.
  • Sand it down with fine grit sandpaper to make sure the wood surface is even with the rest of the floor.
  • Refinish your wood floors by staining with mineral spirits, polyurethane, or varnishing your wood floor.

Regularly cleaning your hardwood floors is the best way to prevent stains. 

Tips on How to Regularly Clean Your Hardwood Floors

  • Sweep daily with a soft broom or vacuum once a week.
  • Use either a damp mop or microfiber duster to reduce dust build-up on the surface.
  • Before mopping, apply a solution of water and white vinegar with damp cloths.

These neutralize smells, break down dirt and grease, disinfect, and also make your beautiful hardwood floor shine.


Q: How can I fix darkened areas on my wood floors?

  • Sand the darkened areas of wood floors.
  • Use a belt sander with a 100-grit sanding belt.
  • Vacuum up the dust.
  • Apply a wood conditioner, let it dry overnight.
  • Sand off any remaining finish with a fine-grit sanding sponge.
  • Sweep up all the dust, wipe down the floors and allow them to dry completely.
  • Lastly, apply a quality wood flooring stain using a natural bristle brush or roller.

Q: Why are my floors discolored?

You may see discoloration due to excessive moisture or the application of a finish that was not compatible with the wood.

When orange, red, yellow, white, or black lines appear on your flooring surface, it is often because of one of two causes: stains from water damage or icky old finishes.


Now that you know the seven different stains that could damage your hardwood floors and the solutions for each of them, we hope you’re now confident to tackle the task.

As always, let us know in the comments if you have any questions or tips of your own to share.

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D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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