Hardwood floors are elegant in any home. But hardwood is also prone to stains. To keep the wood looking its best over the long term, you need to complete maintenance. Spills and accidents can create dark, challenging stains on hardwood flooring. If you’re wondering how to remove black stains from hardwood floors, this article is for you.
The best way to remove black stains from hardwood flooring depends on how the spot got there and how long it’s been around. There are many techniques to remove dark spots from hardwood. However, cleaning the area with hydrogen peroxide is a go-to for all stain types.
In this article, we’ll dive into what causes dark spots on hardwood floors and the best method for removing each stain type. Use the following information to treat the black stains on your wood and restore your flooring to its prime.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- What Causes Dark Spots on Hardwood Floors?
- How To Remove Black Stains From Hardwood Floors
- How to Choose the Right Cleaning Method for Your Stain
- When to Refinish or Replace Stained Wood
- Is Black Mold Dangerous?
- When to Call a Professional for Black Stains
- The Best Hardwood Floor Stain Remover
- How to Prevent Hardwood Floor Stains
What Causes Dark Spots on Hardwood Floors?
Black spots are a sign of wood damage. Dark stains are a type that penetrates the finish and sets deep into the wood grain. These stains typically require more hardwood to remove than white stains, which only penetrate the finish or wax on your floor. However, it’s not impossible to remove black stains.
But how did the stain get on the wood floor in the first place? Well, dark spots typically come from a liquid that spills on the floor. Black stains also take place on hardwood flooring from:
- Feces or urine (from pets or kids)
- Food spillage
- Water spots
- Steamed mops
Maintenance also plays a huge role. These stains can happen if you don’t perform regular cleaning, which tarnishes the floor. Mildew and mold can grow from too much moisture or an old water spill that wasn’t cleaned thoroughly, which destroys the beauty of the wood.
A wood floor that’s not sealed will also show dark spots. Sometimes this happens around metal nails in the floor, which forms into iron oxide when you steam mop the unsealed floor and water seeps into the wood.
If your wood is not sealed, always use dry cleaning methods. Vacuum, dry mop, or sweep the hardwood with a soft bristle broom. Avoid using steam mops on unsealed wood floors at all costs.
How To Remove Black Stains From Hardwood Floors
You could use many different methods to get rid of dark spots on a wood surface. The best way to remove black stains from hardwood floors depends on your stain. Before you start, figure out what type of stain you have and how long it’s been there. Fresh stains are easier to remove.
You may also need a few tools. Collect the following supplies:
- Damp cloth
- Steel wool
- Cleaning product
- Wood stain
- Hardwood floor wax
Here are the best techniques for removing black stains.
Step 1: Spot Clean the Area
First, try cleaning the area. Vacuum or sweep the wood surface, then dab a cloth on the surface with liquid dish detergent and cold water. Avoid rubbing the soap into the wood. Instead, you want to soak the area to saturate the stain fully. This process removes the dirt and debris from the hardwood before it scratches or otherwise worsens the wood’s condition.
Some minor or new stains may come out with soap and water alone. Surface-level stains from ink or urine typically come out with liquid detergent and cold water.
When the surface is clean, go over it again with steel wool soaked in mineral spirits or lemon oil. Mineral spirits are a solvent that removes wax, sealers, and stain. Unlike a wood stain remover, mineral spirits do not require you to work in a well-ventilated area. Rub the mineral spirits into the wood in short, circular movements. Next, allow the wood to dry overnight.
Step 2: Use SandpaperSandpaper is another valuable tool for removing black stains. Sanding the surface allows you to remove any layer on the wood like polish or stain, and it can get rid of dark spots.
Sand the surface using 120-grit sandpaper. You can use a handheld sanding tool or sand the surface by hand. The wood’s stain, wax, and sealant should come off the surface. Make sure to level the surface properly. Next, you want to wipe the sawdust away with a dry cloth.
Some stains will require more sanding or a stronger grit of sandpaper for removal. Assess the area after using 120-grit sandpaper, and work your way up to 600-grit if needed. This process allows you to produce a smooth finish.
Again, surface-level stains may disappear here. If that’s the case, all that’s left is for you to add a top coat of wax or wood varnish to seal the surface. However, move to the next step if the stain remains.
However, sanding is only recommended for real wood. If you have engineered wood flooring, it’s best to avoid this step.
Step 3: Remove the Stain
Many cleaning products are perfect for removing black stains in wood. You can use commercial products or follow a homemade solution. The most common stain removers include hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, vinegar, baking soda, and oxalic acid. Depending on the cleaner you use, you may want to wear protective gloves and offer proper ventilation.
Choose from the following cleaners for this step.
Hydrogen PeroxideHydrogen peroxide is a powerful stain remover for a variety of issues. It has excellent bleaching properties. You can use this quick and easy solution to tackle surface-level and massive stains alike. This ingredient is ideal for combating stinky odors, like potty messes from pets or children. Plus, hydrogen peroxide is safe to use around kids and pets if you’re cautious.
You can also use hydrogen peroxide to remove stains in wood caused by ink, dirt, or moisture. The ingredient won’t damage the wood’s surface, so it’s excellent for eliminating many stain types.
Soak a cloth in hydrogen peroxide, then use it to dab the dark stains. Leave the hydrogen peroxide to dry overnight. For a prominent spot, use a towel and leave the soaked towel on the area for up to eight hours. After you remove the cloth and allow the spot to dry, the stains should disappear. Repeat the process as needed.
Alternatively, you could spray or pour hydrogen peroxide on the affected area. Make sure to use a generous amount. However, you want to avoid applying it to areas of the wood where there’s no staining. Clean any spills or excess, or it may lighten wood that you didn’t want to bleach.
Chlorine is an excellent way to remove black stains that are caused by food, blood, or ink. It acts as a weak bleach or floor cleaner. This ingredient can tackle stains and odors. However, make sure you have a well-ventilated area before you get started. You also want to wear gloves and eye protection.
Chlorine is great for removing:
- Food stains
You can utilize a spray bottle or apply the chlorine directly to the stained area for a few minutes. Avoid adding a lot of liquid on the floor. Scrub the area with a synthetic bristle scrub brush or cloth, wiping away the excess solution. Then, allow the surface to dry. Repeat if the stain remains. Wash the floor with clean water when you’re done.
VinegarWhite vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that you can use to remove stains. The best part about vinegar is that it’s also a powerful odor remover. This solution can tackle dark spots and mildew stink in your wood floors. It also gets rid of stubborn ink or dirt stains. The acidic nature of vinegar helps it break down grime so that you can remove it much more easily.
Start by adding a cup of white vinegar to a bucket of warm water. Use a clean cloth to soak in the mixture, then rub the spot gently. Allow the vinegar to sit on the site for a while. Use a single finger to apply pressure as you rub the spot one more time. You should notice an immediate and significant reduction in the stain’s size and color.
Baking SodaA popular home remedy for many cleaning projects and stains, baking soda paste is an excellent option for black stains on hardwood as well. Baking soda is an excellent go-to when you’re dealing with vomit, feces, urine, or mold – any cleaning project that comes with an odor.
Put on rubber cleaning gloves before you start making the paste. Mix the baking soda with vinegar or water to create a paste, then apply it to the stained area. Allow the paste to dry in the area. A few hours later, clean the spot with a soft, dry cloth. The baking soda removes the smell as well.
Oxalic AcidOxalic acid is a moderate, natural agent that’s ideal for aged black stains, rust, or water spots. It’s also suitable for rust or iron stains and urine. Using the acid is one of the strongest and last-used options to remove spots. You can purchase it from any hardware or home improvement store.
Mix the oxalic acid with water to make a paste, then brush the mixture onto the stain. Leave it to soak into the area for a few hours and wipe it away. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. When working with oxalic acid, make sure to offer plenty of ventilation and wear protective gear.
Wood Bleach or Hardwood Floor Cleaners
Although you can use many home remedies for black stains on hardwood floors, a professional wood floor cleaning solution or wood bleach takes stain removal to the next level. Many of these products are costly. However, they accomplish stain removal with ease.
If you choose to use a wood bleach or hardwood floor cleaner, follow the directions on the bottle. Most applications involve applying the formula with a clean cloth and wiping the area. You also want to make sure the product your purchase is safe for your flooring.
Step 4: Cover with New Stain
Purchase a new wood stain that matches your floor. After removing the stain, you want to re-stain the floor to prevent further issues.
Start by sanding the area gently. Use a cloth to wipe away the debris, then rub in the new stain with a dry cloth. Follow the direction on the bottle for the best results. However, you can apply most stains by rubbing them on the wood for 15 minutes and removing the excess with a backup cloth.
Step 5: Wax the Treated Area
Finally, apply your favorite hardwood floor wax to the treated area to keep your floors looking their best for years to come. You can also use polyurethane or a finishing sealant instead of wax. This step provides a sleek shine to give hardwood floors a final finish. Try to use the same finishing product that’s already on the rest of the wood for seamless color.
Apply the sealant or wax following the direction. You may need to lay a few coats over the stain for good measure. A brush or microfiber roller is helpful. This process will also level the wood and help remove etched stains on hardwood.
How to Choose the Right Cleaning Method for Your Stain
The most suitable cleaning method for your black stain depends on how it got there in the first place. Here’s a breakdown you can use to help choose the best cleaner for your stain:
- Moisture: Liquid detergent may remove light moisture-related black stains, while hydrogen peroxide takes care of deeper spots. Oxalic acid is also great for aged water-related stains.
- Mildew or mold: If you have mildew or mold, baking soda or vinegar is the best to remove the stain and odor simultaneously.
- Urine, feces, and vomit: For potty messes, you want to use vinegar, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide to remove the black spot (and the smell).
- Dirt and ink: Liquid detergent, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar remove dirt and ink with ease. Any store-bought cleaner should work well for dirt and ink stains as well.
- Blood, food spills, or deep-set ink: Chlorine or oxalic acid are weak bleaching agents that are perfect for these types of stains.
When to Refinish or Replace Stained Wood
If you have difficult-to-remove stains and nothing seems to work, you may need to refinish or replace the wood. High-quality hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished anywhere from six to ten times before you need to replace the flooring. Always try to refinish hardwoods before you consider a replacement.
However, deep stains, warping, or other issues could mean replacing the wood is your best course of action. You may also not be able to refinish the hardwood if you’ve already done so too often. If that sounds familiar to you, you must pull up the wood and replace it with new wood along the entire floor.
Is Black Mold Dangerous?
If the black stains on your wood’s surface are caused by water, you may need to look out for signs of mildew and mold. Black mold is particularly common from moisture-related leaks or condensation on porous materials. The mold is not more dangerous than any other type of mold exposure. That said, mold is much more hazardous for people with allergies or asthma.
When to Call a Professional for Black Stains
Some stains are etched into the wood over time by sharp objects or regular wear and tear, which can become a considerable problem that chemicals cannot fix. In this case, you may need to hire a professional to sand and seal the area. It’s also best to seek professional help if you ever feel unsure about proceeding with a stain.
A professional cleaner will sand and seal the hardwood. You could also perform this process at home, but hiring a professional to do the work ensures your floors come out looking their best. They typically use top industry products and tools.
The Best Hardwood Floor Stain Remover
With many floor cleaners and stain removers on the market today, how do you know which are the best options for you? Below are our top picks.
Simple Solution Hard Floor Stain and Odor RemoverSimple Solution Hard Floor Stain and Odor Remover is an excellent option if you have pets. The dual cleaner works to remove pet urine, feces, vomit, and other everyday messes on sealed hardwood floors. You can use the cleaner on other surfaces as well.
Make sure to use a product like this immediately. If you can clean pet messes before they set into the wood, you can avoid black stains and keep your pets from re-marking the area. You can also follow up the use of this product with a floor cleaner to tackle dark stains.
Nature’s Miracle Hard Floor CleanerThe Nature’s Miracle Hard Floor Cleaner is tough on stains and odor. You can use the spray to clean quick messes or remove deep-set stains and odor from sealed wood. It works for stains related to urine, feces, oil, grease, fats, and any other organic substance. The formula is made to protect the natural floor finish, so you don’t have to sand the wood to remove stains.
The best part about using Nature’s Miracle is that it’s entirely safe for pets and children. You can use it around the home for new spills or only break it out when you need to tackle a stain. The cleaner even works on tile, linoleum, concrete, brick, and grout.
How to Prevent Hardwood Floor Stains
Removing black stains from hardwood is not complicated, but it is a time-consuming process that many homeowners would rather avoid. You can prevent stains on your wood flooring with regular cleaning. Always clean spills from the surface immediately. Make sure to use decent cleaning products and damp mop rather than oversaturate the floor with water.
Old stains are much more set into the wood, making them more challenging to remove. For example, black stains with rings are the toughest to remove. With quick cleanup, you can prevent your hardwood floors from even reaching this point. Remember to remove any spills while they’re still wet.
Getting rid of black stains on your hardwood floors is more complicated than white stains. However, there are many methods you can use to make your flooring look new again. Using hydrogen peroxide is an easy go-to for most dark spots. However, the best cleaning product may depend on where your stain came from in the first place (and how long it’s been sitting).
If you learned how to remove black stains from your hardwood floors with ease, please let us know in the comments. Share our article so your friends and family can perfect the appearance of their flooring as well.