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Steps On How To Remove Dark Stains From Hardwood Floors

By Maria Hernandez / December 21, 2021 / 0 Comments

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Hardwood flooring is expensive, and when black stains occur it makes your pricey floors look cheap and dirty. Learn how to remove dark stains from hardwood floors in our complete guide below. Whether it’s an oil or water stain, we’ll show you different products and methods you can use to remove dark, unsightly marks from your hardwood floors. 

You may need to use a specific method depending on the type of stain you’re dealing with, so be sure to get maintenance instructions from your hardwood floor manufacturer so that you don’t affect the warranty on your floors. 

In this guide, we’ll give you tips and tricks on how to remove black stains from hardwood floors without damaging them. Keep reading to find out more! 

Causes Of Dark Spots On Wooden Floors

Some of the most common causes of dark spots on hardwood floors include: 

  • Food 
  • Pet urine 
  • Blood 
  • Ink 
  • Water 

Furthermore, poor cleaning habits and lack of maintenance can also cause dark spots. Some liquid and food spills can cause mold growth or wood rot which leaves dark unsightly stains on natural wood floors

The improper use of steam mops can also cause dark stains and streaks on your wooden flooring. Over time, the nails that hold the flooring in place may oxidize which can cause black rings to appear on the wood’s surface. 

Hardwood floors that aren’t properly sealed and old wood floors with worn sealant can become stained easily. You may need to refinish your hardwood flooring if the sealant has worn off. 

Why Should You Remove Dark Stains From Wood 

Dark stains look unsightly and can lower the value of your home. Some dark stains may also indicate that the hardwood floor has been damaged by water or mold growth. This means that you’ll either have to refinish or replace some of your hardwood floorboards. 

Why Should You Remove Dark Stains From Wood

You should always inspect your floors regularly to ensure there are no dark spots. Maintain your floors and practice excellent cleaning habits to prevent stains from damaging your hardwood floors. 

Products To Remove Stains From Hardwood Floors

There are some products that you should never use on your hardwood floors; some examples are: 

  • Alkaline cleaners
  • Abrasive polish or cleaning aids 
  • Straight ammonia  

These products can damage your hardwood floors and they can dull or scratch the finish. If you have large dark stains on your hardwood floors, try one of the following products. 

Chlorine 

Chlorine is best used on stains such as blood, ink, and food. Additionally, it should only be used in small quantities and on stains that are old. When diluted correctly, chlorine will remove the stain but won’t affect the color of the wood. 

Vinegar 

White vinegar is a natural disinfectant and cleaning aid. Many people use white vinegar to remove stains from clothing. Vinegar is also a natural deodorizer, so it’s suitable to use on urine or food stains. Dilute the vinegar with water to remove dark stains on hardwood floors. 

Hydrogen Peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide is a popular product used by homeowners to remove stubborn stains from hardwood floors and for general cleaning. This product removes dirt and grime build up, as well as mold growth. Hydrogen peroxide is best used on blood, urine, or oil stains

Oxalic Acid 

Oxalic Acid is an excellent product for removing water and rust stains from hardwood floors. What’s more, it can lighten the graying effect from sun exposed wood. This product can be a safety hazard, so it’s best to wear goggles and a dust mask when handling oxalic acid. 

Baking Soda 

Baking soda is another natural product that removes stains and odors from flooring such as carpets, tiles, and hardwood. This powder works best when combined with white vinegar and water. It can remove water, blood, oil and food stains effectively. 

How To Remove Stains From Hardwood Floors

In this section we’ll give you a step by step guide on how to get black marks out of hardwood floors. There are different methods for each type of stain, so follow this guide carefully. 

Water Stains 

Water can cause dark stains on your hardwood floors that can be difficult to remove if left for a long time. There are five methods on how to remove water stains from hardwood floors. Choose one of these methods below. 

How To Remove Stains From Hardwood Floors

Method 1 – Mayonnaise 

The oil in mayonnaise can displace the moisture in a water stain. Place mayonnaise on the affected area and put a cloth or paper towel over it. Let the mayonnaise sit on the stain overnight, then wipe away the mayonnaise with a clean towel and polish the area. 

Method 2 – An Iron 

Lay a clean cloth over the water stain. We recommend using a cotton cloth without any prints or embroidery work. Then grab your iron and remove all the water from the appliance. Put the iron on a low setting and once it’s warm, place it over the cloth. 

After a few seconds, lift the iron and the cloth off of the stain to see if it has disappeared. Repeat the process if the stain is still there. The heat from the iron should remove the moisture from the watermark. This method works best for spills that are new as opposed to ones that are set in. 

Method 3 – Vinegar And Olive Oil 

In a bowl, mix one part vinegar and one part olive oil. Using a clean cloth, apply the solution to the affected area. Ensure you’re wiping in the direction of the wood grain. The vinegar will remove the water stain while the olive oil polishes the area. 

Method 4 – Hairdryer 

For water stains that are new, you can use a hairdryer. Turn the hairdryer on the highest setting and aim it toward the water stain. Hold the dryer over the stain until it completely disappears. You can then use a polish to replenish the wood. 

Method 5 – Furniture Polish 

Regular furniture polish can remove unsightly water stains from your floor. Simply spray the furniture polish on the affected area and use a soft cloth to rub the stain out. The polish works for old and new stains, and on hardwood that’s sealed or unsealed. 

Pet Urine Stains 

Pet urine can cause dark stains and mold growth on hardwood floors. The urine can also emit foul odors that can be difficult to get rid of if you leave the stain too long. To remove pet urine stains from hardwood floors, pour warm water into a bucket and add a cup of white vinegar. Use a soft bristle brush to scrub the area clean. Then blot the area with a clean towel. 

You can also use hydrogen peroxide for stains that are old and ones that run deep into the wood. Dip a towel in the hydrogen peroxide and place over the stain for an hour or two. Check the stain every 30 minutes to see if the stain has disappeared. If the stain is gone, remove the towel and wipe away any residue. Use a polish to replenish the wood

Oil Stains 

Oil stains can happen when cooking meals or when children drop food on the floor. The best way to remove oil stains from treated and untreated wood is with mineral spirits. Apply the mineral spirits to the affected area with a clean cloth and rub the mark gently. The oil stain should rub away immediately. Wash the area with mild soapy water and then blot it with a paper towel to dry it. 

Blood Stains

Blood stains are one of the most difficult spills to remove from any material. This is especially true if the blood stain is old. To remove blood stains, use a non-abrasive method and don’t use hot water because it may set it deeper into the wood. 

For new blood stains, blot the area with a paper towel and then sprinkle baking soda over the stain. Then dip a cloth into white vinegar and rub the area clean. Wipe away any residue using a clean cloth. 

Older blood stains will need a cleaning solution such as hydrogen peroxide. Apply the solution to a clean cloth and use it to rub the blood stain out. Then wipe the area with a cool damp cloth and blot it dry with a towel. 

Ink Stains 

Sometimes children will take a pen to your floors, but this doesn’t have to be an expensive problem to fix. There are many home remedies for ink stains on hardwood floors. Here are the most common solutions to remove ink from your wooden floors whether it’s fresh or old. 

Method 1 – Baking Soda 

Make a paste with baking soda and a bit of water. Apply the paste to the ink stain and allow the solution to dry for 15 minutes. Wipe away the baking soda with a cool damp cloth

Method 2 – Lemon Juice 

Squeeze fresh lemon juice and pour the liquid into a spray bottle. Then spray the lemon juice onto the ink stain and pour salt or baking soda on top of it. Use your fingers or a cloth to rub the solution into the stain. Use a clean damp cloth to wipe away the lemon juice and baking soda. 

Method 3 – Hairspray 

Apply hairspray directly onto the ink stain on your hardwood floors. Then use a clean cloth to rub at the ink stain until it’s completely removed. You can then clean the area with a damp cloth and apply furniture polish to the area. 

Method 4 – Nail Polish Remover

Apply nail polish remover to a cotton ball and use it to rub the ink stain out. Once the stain has been removed, immediately rinse with cold water, blot the area dry, and then apply furniture polish to the area. 

Food Stains 

Food stains can cause big black marks on your hardwood flooring. Some foods can cause mold growth and oil stains that can turn black over time. Stains from non-greasy foods should lift easily if you use dishwashing soap and warm water. 

For stains from oily foods such as butter, peanut butter and cooking oil, use a dishwashing soap with a high lye content. Hydrogen peroxide will also work well for oily food stains. Simply dip a cloth into the hydrogen peroxide and place it over the stain and leave it on the affected area for an hour or two. Then wipe away the residue with a clean damp cloth. 

How To Prevent Dark Marks On Hardwood Floors

If you want your hardwood floors to always look good, here are a few tips to prevent dark marks from appearing on your floors. 

Seal Your Wooden Floors 

If you want to prolong the life of your hardwood floors, you should seal them. Applying a layer of sealant on your hardwood floors will protect them from stains, scratches and discoloration. Sealant prevents liquids from penetrating the wood and staining. 

What’s more, sealant can prevent sun damage to hardwood floors, so if you have wooden floors in a sunroom, the sealant will prevent the wood from drying, cracking and fading. 

How To Prevent Dark Marks On Hardwood Floors

Sealant also prevents water damage and mold growth on hardwood floors. It creates a barrier so that water doesn’t soak into the wood and cause dark marks to appear on the surface. 

General Cleaning And Maintenance 

Like any other type of floor, hardwood needs regular maintenance. If you don’t vacuum or mop your floors regularly, dirt can turn into sticky grime that will settle on your hardwood flooring. This grime will cause dark marks to appear that can only be removed by sanding and refinishing your floors. 

Sweep your floors every three days and mop them once every four days. You can also spot clean your floors when spills occur using a cleaning aid that’s safe to use on wooden floors. 

Clean Spills Immediately 

Food and liquid spills must be cleaned immediately after they happen. If you don’t clean up spills immediately, the oil or liquid can soak into the wood and cause dark spots on the surface. Have cloth or paper towels handy for liquid spills and use a mild soapy water solution to clean up food spills. 

FAQs

Will hydrogen peroxide damage hardwood floors?

No, hydrogen peroxide won’t damage your hardwood floors, so it’s an effective cleaner for dark stains. The product is also safe to use if you have pets and children. Some homeowners state that hydrogen peroxide makes hardwood floors look new, as it removes unsightly marks and thoroughly cleans the surface of the floors.  


Can you lighten hardwood floors? 

Yes, you can lighten the color of hardwood floors but it will require a lot of work. First you’ll need to sand your floors to remove marks and the darker stain on the wood. Then you have to remove the dust from your floors and apply a lighter stain to the surface. Lightening your hardwood floor can give it a fresh new look and brighten up a room. It’s also an effective method to remove black water stains from hardwood floors. 


Why is my wood floor turning black? 

Hardwood floors can turn black from mold growth or the tannins in the wood reacting to minerals in the water. In either situation you’ll have to strip the finish of the wood, bleach it, and then reseal it. In the worst case scenario you’d have to replace your old wooden floorboards with new ones. 


Will sealant prevent black stains on hardwood floors? 

Sealant is a protective coating that you can put over hardwood floors to prevent it from staining. The sealant will prevent liquids and oils from penetrating the wood, so when spills occur you can simply wipe them away with a damp cloth. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many ways your hardwood floor can become stained with black marks. Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems. Whether you have a dark food stain or mold growth, you can remove the majority of black stains with hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar. Use the methods mentioned in this article to assist you. 

If you have any comments or first-hand experiences on how to remove dark stains from hardwood floors, please post them below or share your pictures via our social media.

About Maria Hernandez

Senior Floor Critic, 25 years of experience in residential and commercial cleaning

Maria Hernandez has 25 years of experience in residential and commercial janitorial and cleaning services. From hardwood to carpet to marble floors, Maria has developed a deep expertise in cleaning and maintaining many different flooring types.

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