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

person using wood stain on a surface

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu 

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr

Wood-staining products can be difficult to remove from fabric due to the dye, oils, and chemicals contained in them. 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, or upholstery.

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

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.

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.

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Click Play to Learn How to Quickly Remove Wood Stain From Clothes

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

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

Materials

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

Instructions

tools for removing wood stain from clothes
The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu 

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.

    dabbing mineral spirits on the stain
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu  
  1. 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.

    Laundering according to the garment's care label
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu  

Warning

According to the National Fire Protection Association, clothes that have come in contact with flammable substances, like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents should be laid outside to dry, then can be washed and dried as usual.

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 has 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.

Tip

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'll 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. 

    blotting wood stain on a rug
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu  
  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. (Make sure that the detergent does not contain bleach.) 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.

    carefully mixing an ammonia solution
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu 

    Warning

    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 the cleaning solution in the fibers, as this can attract soil.

    wetting the area with water
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu  

    Tip

    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 the 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.

    vacuuming the dried rug
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu  
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dryer Safety Tips. National Fire Protection Association.

  2. What Can You Safely Mix With BleachWater Quality and Health Council.