The Best Way to Remove Stains from Wood Floors

remove stains from wood floors

If you’re a pet owner, you understand that accidents happen. When we bought the farmhouse, we noticed some dark discoloration on some of the hardwood floors. I decided to put some of the most commonly recommended methods to remove stains from wood floors to the test. 

Follow along with my little experiment to and learn which methods worked the best – or if any of them did!

Vinegar & Warm Water

Vinegar is an acidic that is used as a reliable deodorizer and disinfectant. 

Mix 50% water with 50% white distilled vinegar. It’s as simple as it sounds. 

rag trying to remove stains from wood floors

Gently wipe this solution over the dark stain. You might want to take a few passes with this mild solution to get your stain to lighten. Well, after wiping, then letting it sit for a few minutes…. nothing.

Naturally, I did the next best thing, I left mine on the wood for 5 hours. Yes folks, you heard me right. 

floor treated with vinegar to remove stains from wood floors

Other than removing some surface grime, this method did very little to remove stains from wood floors. It’s still there.

Vinegar & Baking Soda

Leveling up a little, the next method I decided to try was vinegar and baking soda. Baking soda is an abrasive stain remover, especially when paired with vinegar. Why not give it a try. 

(p.s. – I’ve used this method to get a purple stain out of my marble bathroom vanity top!)

For this application, you will need to make a paste, about the consistency of  toothpaste. 

Next, I gentle applied the paste over the dark stain on the wood floor. Gave it a little scrubbing and waited.

I let it sit for a few hours and then wiped it up with some warm water and a rag. 

I thought I noticed some improvement. I reapplied the paste a few times, letting it sit for a few hours each application. Nope. this did nothing to remove stains from the wood floor.

Hydrogen Peroxide

First off, all Hydrogen Peroxide is not the same. Make sure you grab 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution for this stain removal. Hydrogen Peroxide is a often used as a bleaching agent so keep in mind it might cause some discoloring. Thinner than water, hydrogen peroxide will penetrate the wood fibers helping clean deep stains and dry them as the solution evaporates. 

When I tested hydrogen peroxide as a stain remover, I decided to use cotton balls to apply it to the surface. I dabbed a soaked cotton ball over the stain on the hardwood floor. I left this mixture for an hour at a time, reapplying 3-4 times to see a change.

two cotton rounds with hydrogen peroxide trying to remove stains from wood floors

This method did lighten the stan a little after multiple applications. It also started to affect the polyurethane top coat. 

hardwood floor stain that has been treated with hydrogen peroxide

This method may help, but be prepared to resurface your floors after attempting to lighten using hydrogen peroxide.

Bar Keeper's Friend

This stuff is amazing. If you’ve never heard about it, you’re welcome. It’s been my new go-to for hard to clean messes and stains around this lovely 1980’s farmhouse. Bar Keeper’s Friend (BKF) can be purchased at most retail stores that provide cleaning products: Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and of course Amazon.

I read an article on how BKF removed water stains on furniture and decided to give it a shot to remove black stains on my hardwood floor. You can use the soft paste or the powder version of this product, either will work. I purchased the soft paste for ease of use.

Using a soft rag, gentle rub the paste over the black stain. I let it sit for 5 minutes and then wiped it off. 

dark stain on wood floor being treated with barkeepers friend

BKF is an oxalic acid and will continue to bleach the wood if residue is left behind. To neutralize the oxalic acid, using a 1:3 solution of vinegar and water. I wiped the surface of the hardwood using the solution and then wiped it dry.

After applying BKF, I did see similar results as using hydrogen peroxide. The polyurethane top coat was being affected. Knowing this can be an abrasive solution, this wasn’t surprising. 

However, I had really high hopes for it, and it seems again, to not hold up to my expectations.

Nature's Miracle

Nature’s Miracle a bio-enzymatic cleaner that is supposed to clean while deodorizing – pet stains specifically. Bio-enzymatic cleaners use “good” bacteria to help digest waste and soil that cause dark stain in wood floors.

Nature’s Miracle was the most recommended bio-enzymatic wood cleaner on the market, so I went for it! 

I applied per the instructions – spray on, wait 5 minutes, and blot up. 

Nothing. So I reapplied, and let it sit for a few hours. Yup, here we go again with the hour long application.

Dark wood stain treated with Nature's Miracle to remove stains from wood floors

The results were abysmal. I wouldn’t spend the money on this bio-snzymatic cleaner to lighten dark stain on wood floors.

The Results are in...

After completing each trial, the results were pretty clear. 

None of this easy and simple home remedies to remove dark stains on wood floors. Maybe my expectations were to high, or the stain was just too far gone – too set in. 

However, you be the judge! You can see for yourself.

Before:

After:

results from trying to remove stains from wood floors using household methods

Now, I had anticipated some damage to the stain and polyurethane surface while trying to lift this awful stain. Since none of the methods I used really worked, I’ll work on removing the stain via standing and bleaching. Eventually I’ll have to refinish it too.

No – my plan isn’t to just throw an area rug over it. Although I contemplated it! 

I hope this little test helped you see what is internet folklore and what is actual helpful nuggets of useful information. Remember what momma said, not everything you read on the internet is true.

Happy cleaning!

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