How to Remove Wood Stain From Clothes and Upholstery

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. 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.

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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. 

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.

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. 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.

  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, 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 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 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.

FAQ
  • Does wood stain wash out of clothes?

    You will need to try removing the stain before washing the item. Tossing a piece of clothing in the wash before treating will typically not work to remove the stain.

  • Can you remove dried wood stain from clothes?

    Though it's always best to try removing a fresh wood stain, you can use mineral spirits on a clean white cloth to moisten a dry stain to dab it out of the item. Place a paper towel under the area you are dabbing with the cloth and mineral spirits to catch any color and to prevent anything from spreading on the fabric. Patiently keep dabbing at the stain until it is removed, then wash the garment normally.

  • Will acetone bleach clothes?

    Mineral spirits can remove oil-based wood stains and acetone can be used to help remove water-based wood stains and other difficult stains. However, use acetone cautiously because it can remove the dye from some clothing. Acetone can also dissolve acetate fibers. Read the garment's label for fiber content before using acetone on it to remove stains.

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.