How to Remove Wood Stain From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Wood Stain
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Wood staining products can be difficult to remove from fabric due to the dye, oils, and chemicals contained in the product. However, while it is nearly impossible to remove large stains, especially those that have completely soaked through the fibers, there is hope for removing small drips or an accidental smear on clothes, carpet, and upholstery.

Stain type Oil- and dye-based 
Detergent type Mineral spirits or liquid dishwashing detergent
Water temperature Cold or Warm

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour

Before You Begin

Test any detergent or cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.

If the garment is labeled dry clean only, take it to your dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to help your professional cleaner choose the right treatment. The same applies to wood stain that damages silk or vintage upholstery; you need to contact a professional cleaner or else you are likely to do more damage if you try to remove the stain yourself.

If you want to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with mineral spirits or the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag. You will have the best outcome if you take the item to a professional cleaner instead of using a home kit.

Never dry clothes with wood stain spots in a clothes dryer until the stain is entirely gone. Drying the stain in a clothes dryer will set it permanently. It may be hard to tell if the stain is fully gone while the fabric is wet but resist the temptation to machine dry it.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Mineral spirits (for clothing)
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent (for carpet)
  • Household ammonia (for carpet)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional for carpet)

Tools

  • Clean, white cloth, paper towel or cotton swab
  • Washing machine
  • Vacuum (for carpet)
  • Eyedropper (optional for carpet)

How to Remove Wood Stain From Clothes

You will have the best results if you catch the problem quickly and treat it immediately.

  1. Dab Mineral Spirits on the Stain

    Apply mineral spirits to the stain with a clean, white cloth or cotton swab. First, test the mineral spirits on an inside seam because it can cause changes in fabric color. Start at the outside edge of the stain and work toward the center to prevent spreading the stain. Work on a small section at a time and move to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred from the fabric.

    If the stain remains on clothing, repeat the stain removal steps. If the stain has not disappeared after a second treatment, it is most likely permanent.

  2. Wash According to Care Label

After removing the stain, wash as usual following the guidelines on the care label. Do not machine dry until you are certain the stain has been removed.

How to Remove Wood Stain From Carpet or Upholstery

If the wood stain drip is small or there is just a bit from a furniture leg that had not dried completely, there is still a chance to repair the damage on carpet or upholstery.

The same cleaning techniques and solutions that are used on the carpet can be used for upholstery. It is important to be careful not to over-wet the fabric which can cause damage to the upholstery filling.

Prevention Is the Best Remedy

Just as on clothes, if the wood stain spill is large and has soaked through the carpet fibers to the backing and the padding, it is going to be nearly impossible to remove. This is why all staining work should be done outside at a workbench or with the protection of plastic tarps. You never have to remove stains that do not happen.

  1. Blot the Stain

    If the stain is fresh, use a paper towel or white cloth to blot up as much moisture as possible. Keep moving to a clean area of the towel to prevent additional staining. 

  2. Apply Dishwashing Soap and Ammonia Solution

    Mix one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and one-fourth cup household ammonia with two cups warm water. Dip a clean white cloth or sponge into the solution and blot the stained area. Work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading. Keep blotting until no more color is transferred to the cleaning cloth.

    Ammonia Safety

    Wear gloves if you are handling ammonia, and make sure the area where you are working is well-ventilated so you do not inhale any fumes. Never mix ammonia with chlorine bleach or toxic fumes can develop.

  3. Rinse the Area

    Dip a clean white cloth in plain water to "rinse" the carpet. Repeat this several times. Do not leave any remnants of cleaning solution in the fibers, it can attract soil.

    One Final Step for Light-Colored Carpets

    If the stain persists on a light-colored carpet, you can apply a hydrogen peroxide solution. Mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with three tablespoons of warm water. Use a cotton swab or eye dropper to apply the solution to stain. Allow it to work for 30 minutes and then blot away. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent and should never be used on dark-colored fibers.

  4. Air-Dry and Vacuum

Allow the area to dry away from direct heat. Vacuum to lift carpet fibers.