clean hardwood floors dark spots

How to Remove Dark Stains from Your Hardwood Floors?

In Cleaning, Home Tips by Jamie

Hardwood floors are classic and beautiful. They can be customized to fit your home and the colors can range from light to dark wood. They are fairly simple to clean and take care of, but sometimes they can become stained. When your hardwood floors get a dark stain, how do you remove them?

There are many ways to remove dark stains from your hardwood floors, from the simple ways of using wood bleach or oxalic acid or the more time-consuming way of sanding and refinishing the stain. Whichever way you choose to remove your stains, you want to be as efficient as you can be. 

Read along with us as we explore the various ways to efficiently remove dark stains from your hardwood floors.

What Causes Dark Stains on Hardwood Floors?

There are a number of reasons why you may get dark spots on your hardwood floors such as:

Sap Stains

Sap stains are typically blue or brown and can stain your hardwood because of fungal growth. When timber falls and is in a moist environment it can grow fungus, this fungi can penetrate the wood or grow on the outside of the log. Sap stains are the result of the fungus.

Iron Stains

Iron stains can be present on your hardwood floors when there is a chemical reaction between iron, wood, and moisture. If something was left on the wood, such as a hammer or anything made with iron, then the wood got wet or damp these stains will appear.

Tannic Acid Discoloration

A tannic acid stain is more common in wood that has a high level of tannic acid. The most common variety of trees that have high levels of tannic acid is oak, mahogany, and walnut. When certain finishing materials are added to wood with increased levels of tannic acid discoloration will occur.

Chemical Stains

Chemical stains can occur on any type of hardwood. These stains happen when a chemical or substance is spilled into the wood and the wood reacts to it. The most common chemical stains are the result of spilled oil, acid, vinegar, or chlorine.

Sticker Stains

Sticker stains are from the lining used to keep the hardwood boards separated. When these stickers don’t come off easily they can leave a residue that causes discoloration.

Black Water and Moisture Stains

Blackwater stains or moisture stains are stains that are caused by wet things being left on the hardwood for too long. Pet feces or urine can contribute to these stains. The best way to prevent these types of stains is to keep the hardwood floors from getting wet or damp.

Blotchy Finish

A blotchy finish is when the stain used on the hardwood floor is not absorbed evenly on the wood. This can make the hardwood floors appear to have a blotchy finish.

How to Remove Dark Stains from Your Hardwood Floors (The “Quick” Fix Way)

If you have hardwood floors that have any of the above stains, you may want a quick and easy method of removing the stains. The two methods below are the best quick methods out there.

Wood Bleach

Wood bleach is great when it comes to hardwood stains. It penetrates the surface of the wood and lightens the dark areas that need to be lightened. Many types of wood bleach can be used, and many household items can be used as well.

Chlorine is a great type of wood bleach that can be made using a mixture of Clorox and water. You can also use chlorine tablets soaked in water as well. This method of wood bleach is great for getting rid of chemical stains.

Savogran 10501 Wood Bleach, 12 oz,Black

Vinegar helps eliminate dark spots on your hardwood floors. When you are ready to use vinegar on your floors add equal parts water to equal parts vinegar and scrub the dark spots until they begin to fade away.

Baking soda and vinegar are also great homemade wood bleach. When you mix these two items together into a paste, they can be directly applied to your hardwood stain. Simply let the paste dry, then wipe it clean. Your dark stains should be eliminated.

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is great for iron stains. This acid is very strong and helps with removing stains from rust or mold. Oxalic acid helps to neutralize the chemical reaction that is causing the dark stain on your hardwood floors. Before applying oxalic acid, sand down the dark spot to allow for deeper penetration. Be cautious as this axis is very strong and should be used with caution.

How to Remove Dark Stains from Your Hardwood Floors (The Longer Way)

Sometimes wood bleach and other chemicals don’t quite do the whole job of removing all of the stains on your hardwood. When you need something that will go a little deeper you may want to try other ways to remove the stains.

Spot Touch Up

A spot touch-up is when you sand only one area of the hardwood floor to erase one or two small spots on the floor. This should not take too much time, since the areas will be smaller than the whole floor. Use sandpaper to sand the stained spot, once the spot is gone apply stain that matches the rest of your floor. Top with wax or varnish to complete the project.

Full Refinish

For a full refinish it may be best to completely sand down your whole floor. This is going to take a while to complete, so be prepared to spend at least a few days on this project. You will need a sanding tool or sandpaper to remove the top layer of your hardwood floor. Following the grain of your hardwood, evenly scraped the surface to remove the stains.

Once you have removed the layers that you wish to remove, clean up all dust and derby left behind. The stains should be gone if they were just surface-level stains. If you are happy with your result, it is time to add stain to the whole sanded area to finish it.

Apply the desired color of stain with a cloth evenly over the floor, allowing it to fully dry. Once it is dry, apply a top coat of varnish to your hardwood floor.

Alternative Options to Removing Dark Stains from Hardwood Floors

Magic Eraser Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Extra Durable Pro Version, Shoe, Bathroom, and Shower Cleaner, Cleaning Pads with Durafoam, 10 Count

Magic erasers are perfect for superficial scuffs and marks on your hardwood floors. As long as the mark had not penetrated through the wood, you should be able to scrub away anything that is surface level.

Orange Oil

Orange oil not only smells delicious, but it is also great for hardwood floors. Place a tiny drop onto a microfiber cloth and scrub down your stained hardwood floors. This will not only help stains but can also eliminate odors as well.

Dark Stains on Hardwood Floors FAQs

How to Remove the Odor from Dark Urine Stains in Hardwood?

If you have pets and hardwood floors, you understand the struggles of when they urinate on your floors. This type of stain penetrates the hardwood and not only stains the wood but can also leave behind an odor. If you have this problem it may be best to try using hydrogen peroxide to help eliminate both the stain and the odor in the hardwood.

Instead of directly pouring the hydrogen peroxide onto your hardwood, apply it to a clean cloth and place the cloth over the stain. Allow it to sit overnight and remove it in the morning. This should help remove the stain and the odor from the urine.

Is There a Time When the Hardwood is No Longer Repairable?

Yes. There is absolutely a time when hardwood floors are no longer repairable. When you begin to see nail heads, it may be time to replace your hardwood floors. A few here and there doesn’t require immediate replacement, but if you see more than 30 perfect of your floors covered in nail heads, it may be time to stop repairing and start replacing.

If your floorboards are shifting or bending that is another good indication that you need to replace your floors. This is not only unsightly, but it is extremely dangerous.

What About White or Grey Stains, What Are They? & How Do You Fix Them?

White and gray stains on hardwood floors are sometimes called hazy stains. This type of stain can occur when too much floor cleaner is used on the hardwood. Too much cleaner can damage the hardwood floors and cause them to look much older than they really are.

If you want to fix grey stains on your hardwood floors you will have to do the full refinish as we talked about above. You should sand down your hardwood floors and refinish the whole floor with varnish.

What About Sun Damage?

All hardwood floors will show sun damage eventually. Sun damage is caused when the sun shines through onto your hardwood floors and causes discoloration. Most of the time we don’t notice our sun-damaged floors until we move a piece of furniture and see the variance of colors.

If you want to prevent sun damage to the hardwood floors you can buy curtains that prevent the sun’s UV rays from penetrating inside onto the floors. You can also add awnings to your windows that will block the sun from directly entering your home. Or even add tints to your windows that help block the sun.

But if the damage is already done and there is noticeable sun damage to your hardwood floors, your only option is to sand down the floors and refinish them. This may sound limited, but at least you have the option to choose a new stain color and upgrade from your dull sun-damaged floors.

Final Thoughts

If you have hardwood floors with stains it may be time to think about revamping them. Depending on what type of stains you have, you may choose a quick method that will bleach the stains away or a longer method that will require sanding the floors and refinishing the whole thing.

Either way, this article will walk you through everything that you need to know about the types of stains you have and the techniques needed to remove them.

About the Author

Jamie

Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.