How to Get Stains Out of Hardwood Floors: The Top Hacks to Know

written by: Terry Stevens

Published: January 15, 2020
Updated: July 4, 2024

reading time:  minutes


It costs between $100 to $150 to replace a square metre of floor with hardwood.

If you have children or pets, odds are there’s at least one stain on your hardwood floor. Remember the days when you did your first walk-through of your brand new home and the hardwood floors wowed you?

Don’t worry, you can regain your hardwood floor’s former beauty. Considering how pricey hardwood floors are, why wouldn’t you want to?

We’ve gathered the best tips and tricks for you and in this comprehensive guide, we’ll reveal how to get stains out of hardwood floors.

But if you are too busy to do the work yourself, you can just simply call for house cleaning services to make your hardwood floors look spotless again.

How to Get Stains out of Hardwood Floors

Whether it’s from a spilled glass of wine or a pet accident, it all stains. That’s even truer if you weren’t able to clean it up fast enough. Life is hectic and these things happen.

To help keep your hardwood floors free of stains, you should make sure you know how to clean them properly. Different finishes require different treatments.

After all, preventing stains is easier than removing stains from hardwood floors.

You’ll want to know whether your hardwood floor is finished or unfinished, as certain types of cleaning solutions will damage one and not the other. For a finished floor, you also might have to contend with stripping the finish first to deep clean the wood.

But if you do have stains, never fear! Here are our best tips on how to for removing stains from hardwood floors:

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of those rare things that never stops being useful. We’ve been using baking soda for over a millennia, dating back to the Egyptians in 3500 BC.

Baking soda has a variety of uses. Whether it’s for brushing your teeth or dealing with underarm body odour, baking soda solves it all. That’s probably why baking soda is found in almost every home.

But it also works great for removing dye stains.

To remove a dye stain on a hardwood floor, mix baking soda with vinegar. It should mix into a paste with the consistency of toothpaste.

Spread the concoction over the stain. Then use a sponge to gently rub it in. After you’re done rubbing at the stain, wipe it up with a damp cloth.

2. Dish Detergent

Dish detergent works great for more than just cleaning your dishes. If you have a food or nail polish stain or even an oil stain, dish detergent can help.

One the best ideas for how to remove oil based stains from wood dish detergent. This will help to break down the stain and lift it away from the surface. Just be sure to rinse the area well afterward so that you don’t leave any residue behind.

First, mix the detergent with warm water. Dip a rag in it then rub at the stain. Keep repeating this process until the stain is cleaned up. Then buff dry with a cloth.

3. Phenol Solution

Pets have accidents. If you’ve ever house trained a puppy, you know how tough it is to deal with pee stains.

Using a 5% phenol solution can help remove pet stains. You can buy phenol at most hardware and home improvement stores.

It doubles as both a hardcore cleaner and killing odour-causing bacteria that live in pet urine. Nothing is worse than the lingering odour of pet urine. It can make even the cleanest home feel filthy.

If a wax finish covers your hardwood floor, use steel wool and mineral spirits to clean the stain instead. Wax and buff to finish up.

4. Isopropyl Alcohol

Permanent marks are great for labelling and tracing and more. But sometimes we fumble and drop them, or a child gets a hold of one and decides to explore their artistry on your beautiful hardwood floor.

However it happened, if you have a permanent marker stain on your hardwood floor, a bit of isopropyl alcohol on a cloth will clean it right up.

Once the cloth has a small amount of alcohol on it, rub at the stain in a circular motion for several minutes. Next, use a rag dampened with warm water to clean up all traces of isopropyl alcohol, then buff with a dry cloth.

What Not to Do

Now that we’ve covered how to clean the different types of stains from your hardwood floor, let’s go over what not to do. Some cleaning methods can cause more harm than good.

For a finished floor, you never want to use a scrubbing pad like steel wool. It’s the same as using sandpaper and will destroy the smooth finish of your wood.

Another common misconception is that hardwood floors are waterproof. Wood is porous, which means it absorbs any liquid on it.

When mopping your floor, make sure you squeeze your mop out thoroughly. It should be damp, not sopping wet. Any water left on your hardwood floor should dry fast. If there are puddles, get a towel and soak it up right away.

Avoid using a steam mop on your hardwood floor. The high heat pushes moisture deep into the wood. This causes irreversible damage.

After only a couple of cleanings with a steam mop, you will see wood start to shrink or swell, buckle, splinter, and look far older than it is. Once that happens, there’s no reversing it. Your only option will be to replace the entire floor.

Last, while you probably already know how damaging a pet’s urine is to your hardwood floor, don’t forget their claws. Large dogs, in particular, can scratch the finish of your floor if their nails aren’t trimmed often. Then you’re looking at the harder work of sanding and buffing to remove a scratch.

A Little Cleaning Goes a Long Way

Like with anything, hardwood floors need a little routine maintenance and cleaning to stay good-as-new.

If something spills on your floor, clean it up as fast as possible. Wood is porous. The longer liquid sits on its surface, the more it absorbs into the grains of the wood. Prevention is your best stain removal option.

We hope this guide was useful in teaching you how to get stains out of hardwood floors. If you’ve been struggling to get a stubborn stain out of your hardwood floor, then maybe it’s time to call in an expert.

At Sparkle and Shine, our employees are all background-screened and 100% committed to ensuring customer satisfaction. Speedy replies to all inquiries are guaranteed. We service the entire Melbourne metro area at affordable rates!

Contact us today at Sparkle and Shine to schedule your personalised home cleaning.


Expert Guide, Floors, How to, Maintenance

About the author 

Terry Stevens

The owner and founder of Sparkle and Shine. He is a seasoned professional in the home services industry with a decade of experience. He is dedicated to providing top-notch services for residential and commercial properties and has a wealth of knowledge to share on topics such as tips, tricks, industry trends, and the importance of loving your space.