Whether caused by overwatering a plant, a puddle left by a boot or pet or a plumbing leak, water stains on a wood floor are unsightly. If the water stain appears as a white ring, there's a very good chance you can remove it. A white ring indicates that the water has only seeped into the wax or polyurethane finish on the wood.
Darker rings and large stains are more difficult. The moisture has penetrated the finish and seeped into the wood causing it to darken. Dark rings can be removed with some elbow grease and patience. However, depending on the extent of the stain and damage to the wood, refinishing the floor or replacement of the boards may be the best option.
Once you've mastered the task of removing water stains on wood floors, those pesky rings left by a wet glass on a wood table will be simple to erase.
What You Need to Remove White Rings on Wood Floors
- Mineral oil
- Mineral spirits
How to Remove White Rings From Wood Floors
Get Rid of Dust
Before you tackle the white ring on the floor, use a dust mop or vacuum to thoroughly clean the area. Leaving dust and grit on the floor will only make more of a problem as you apply the cleaning solutions.
Time for an Oil Change
Pour a generous amount of mineral oil onto a soft cloth. Rub the white ring(s) with the cloth working with the grain of the wood. Let the oil remain on the floor overnight. If the stain is gone the next morning, buff the area with a dry cloth to absorb any remaining oil.
If the stain remains, it's time to take the next step.
Head to the Kitchen
If you don't have any mineral oil on hand, you can substitute any cooking oil, mayonnaise, butter or solid shortening. Petroleum jelly also works well in a pinch.
Keep Your Spirits Up
If the mineral oil didn't do the trick, move on to mineral spirits, a paint thinner and solvent. Wearing gloves, apply some mineral spirits to a soft cloth. Following the grain of the wood, rub what remains of the white ring. Wait a few minutes and the stain should disappear.
Finish by buffing the area with a clean, dry cloth.
What You Need to Remove Dark Water Stains From Wood Floors
- #100-grit sandpaper
- #150-grit sandpaper
- #0000 steel wool
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Chlorine bleach
- Wood varnish that matches your wood floors
- Wood floor polish
- Tack cloth or vacuum
- Soft cloths
- Disposable gloves
- Dust mask
How to Remove Dark Water Stains From Wood Floors
Dark water stains are much more difficult and time-consuming to remove. The process can take days so be prepared to devote some time.
Since the stain is dark in color, that means the water has penetrated the finish and darkened the wood. You will need to remove the finish to get to the stain. Wearing the dust mask, start by evenly sanding directly over the stained area with #100-grit sandpaper. Work following the grain of the wood while applying even pressure.
Next, move to the #150-grit sandpaper and sand the edges of the finish around the main stain to gradually smooth the edges. Finish sanding by going over the entire area with the #150-grit sandpaper and the #0000 steel wool.
To lighten the dark areas, you can use either hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach. Do not mix the two bleaches. Begin with a 50:50 dilution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Soak a white cloth in the solution and wring lightly. Place the cloth on the dark stain and allow it to work for ten minutes. You will need to allow the floor to dry completely between treatments.
If the stain remains, treat again with 100 percent hydrogen peroxide for ten minutes and allow to dry overnight. If the stain remains, move on to chlorine bleach.
For chlorine bleach, start with a solution of four parts water to one part bleach. Follow the same instructions as for hydrogen peroxide, repeat the steps strengthening the bleach and water solution until the dark stain is gone.
Apply a New Finish
When the dark stain is lifted, use a wood varnish that matches your floor to stain and seal the area. Once the finish is dry, use the #0000 steel wool to smooth any bumps between the newly cleaned area and the old finish.
Use a good floor cleaner to bring back the shine to your entire wood floor.