How to Remove Wood Stain From Clothes and Carpet

How to Remove Wood Stain

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Wood-staining products can be difficult to remove from fabric due to the dye, oils, and chemicals that are 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. The items you need are most likely available right in your house.

As you move forward in removing the stain, be aware that you should 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 completely gone while the fabric is wet but resist the temptation to machine dry it.

Take these steps to remove wood stains from clothing, carpet, or upholstery.

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

Stain type Oil- and dye-based 
Detergent type Mineral spirits or liquid dishwashing detergent
Water temperature Cold or Warm
Cycle type Varies depending on the type of fabric

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 proper 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.

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.

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.
  • Then, 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.

Warning

Blot, do not rub! Rubbing will only push the wood stain into the material's fibers and smear it around, making the stain even bigger.

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, as if there is any stain left, it can set permanently into the fabric. Air dry and if you see any stain remaining, simply repeat the process.

    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

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 the carpet.

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 1/4 cup household ammonia with 2 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.

    Warning

    Make sure the detergent does not contain bleach, as mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia will create toxic fumes.

    Wear gloves if you are handling ammonia, and work in a well-ventilated area, so you do not inhale any fumes.

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

How to Remove Wood Stain From Upholstery

The same cleaning techniques and solutions used on the carpet can be used for upholstery. It is important to be careful not to overwet the fabric, which can cause damage to the upholstery filling.

Before cleaning any upholstery though you need to know what type of fabric you have on the piece of furniture before you can move to the next steps of cleaning it. Look under the sofa cushions or skirt to find a tag with letter codes that indicate how to clean the furniture. Here's how to decipher the code:

  • W: Sofa can be cleaned with a water-based detergent.
  • S: Sofa must be cleaned with a solvent-based cleanser (such as denatured alcohol) or dry-cleaned.
  • WS: Sofa can be cleaned with a water-based or dry-cleaning solvent.
  • X: Sofa can only be cleaned by vacuuming or by a professional cleaner.
  • O: Sofa is made from organic materials that require cleaning with cold water methods only. Do not use heat.

These codes will tell you what you can and cannot use to clean up any spots of wood stain. If you have any questions, it's best to call a professional—especially if you need more stain removal tips.

Once you have determined what you can safely use on your furniture, then proceed with the same steps as cleaning wood stains from carpet if the type of cleaner recommended can be used on your upholstery fabric.

Additional Tips for Removing Wood Stain

If the wood stain on clothing, carpet, or upholstery is older and has dried and set, most likely this is now a permanent stain on the item. It is still worth a try to use the steps though and see if the stain can be removed.

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 Bleach? Water Quality and Health Council.