How to Remove Dark Stains From Wood

Wooden materials are no doubt a long-aged material found in almost every home. The ever-faithful wood materials are used as wood floor and wood furniture. Because of their frequent usage, woods are subjected to different stains in every home, and they stain very easily. While it is easy to remove some stains, other stains on wood can prove very difficult to get rid of, including dark stains because these dark stains on wood penetrate and absorb the wood.

Neglecting the stains gives your wooden floors and furniture a bad appearance hence, the need to know some few tricks on how to remove dark stains from wood.

Is your wood material finished or unfinished? Identifying the type of wood floor or table you have makes it easy to remove stains. So, how do remove dark stain from wood? Can dark-stained wood be lightened? What removes stain from wood?

You will find answers to these questions in this article. After several trials on removing various degrees of stains from wood, we have come up with the best and easy way to remove dark stains from wood. From easily-removed stains to difficult-to-remove stains, depending on the degree of stain and how long the stain had stayed, this article will guide you on how to remove dark stains from wood.

How to Remove Dark Stains from Wood?

Dark stains on wood can be from water exposure, ink exposure, or metal rust, and they can be challenging to remove.
There are several homemade wood stain removers you can use to remove stains from wood. They include toothpaste, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and oxalic acid (bleach).

  • Homemade Wood Stain Removal
  • Toothpaste
  • Vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Oxalic Acid

Using Toothpaste

  • Toothpaste is used to remove black stains that are not thick or to the extreme.
  • First, dry the stain with a hairdryer or heat gun at its lowest temperature
  • Rub some toothpaste on the dark stained spot and leave it for few minutes
  • Clean the spot with a sponge. You should see a noticeable change now.
  • Repeat the process until the dark stain is completely removed. Otherwise, you need something stronger like vinegar.
  • Toothpaste can make the spot a bit lighter than the usual color. You can restore the color using Restor-A-Finish if your furniture is finished wood.

Using Vinegar

  • Soak a cotton towel or cloth in vinegar
  • Rub on a dark-stained spot until the stain is completely gone.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide

  • The use of hydrogen peroxide is one of the best ways to remove a stubborn wood stain. Follow the steps below to remove the dark stain on the wood.
  • Soak a cotton towel or cloth in 3% hydrogen. (A stronger concentration of hydrogen peroxide to remove dark stains may cause irritation when it comes in contact with your skin. It could also discolor or whiten your wood.)
  • Squeeze the soaked towel a little to stop dripping.
  • Rub the soaked towel on the stained spot for a while.
  • Cover the spot with a soaked towel and leave for 4-6 hours or overnight, so the hydrogen peroxide soak up the stain
  • Remove and wipe off excess peroxide.
  • The stain should be completely gone by now. However, if not completely gone, you could need one or more applications.
  • For a re-application, wipe away dried peroxide with a wet cloth and dry it before applying again. If stain persists, try wood bleach which contains oxalic acid.

Using Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is another best way to remove dark stains on wood. Many wood bleaches function differently. However, oxalic acid is best in removing dark stains from wood. Oxalic acid is best for both finished and unfinished wood. You can obtain it from hardware stores or home improvement stores.

Safety Measures when using Oxalic Acid

  • Use rubber gloves and an eye shield to avoid contact with skin.
  • In case of contact with skin or eye, wash in running water.
  • Follow product instructions
  • Avoid mixing bleach ahead for future use
  • Prepare your stained surface.
  • Does your wood floor or wood table have a polyurethane finish or other surface costing? If yes, then you need to remove the finish coatings first because it is stained underneath.
  • Does your wood floor or wood table have an oil finish, or is it raw wood with no finish, then you don’t need any preparation?
  • Prepare your oxalic acid.
  • Oxalic acid comes in powder form—mix oxalic acid (28g) with water (473ml). The measurement ratio should form a paste mixture, so it stays on the stained spot.
  • Put the paste on a stained spot and scrub with a toothbrush
  • Scrub in a circular motion
  • Avoid rubbing bleach on the unaffected parts to avoid bleaching. Protect or demarcate unstained parts with paper tape or mask
  • Allow the bleach to stay on the stained spot for another few hours so it lifts the stain.
  • Wipe bleach away with plain water. The stain should be removed at this stage or become lighter.
  • Repeat the process if you have to. Otherwise, you need to sand stain away.

How to Remove Dark Stains From Wood by Sanding and Refinishing

  • Safety Measures for Sanding and Refinishing Wood
  • Ensure you wash away every chemical with a wet sponge and detergent before sanding to avoid inhaling chemicals, as breathing in contaminated dust could irritate your respiratory organ
  • Use goggles and a nose mask to avoid eyes and airway irritation.

Sanding Dark Stains from Wood

  • Sanding is the best way to remove any wood stain especially deep dark stains from wood.
  • Start by sanding the finish above the wood stain with 100-grit sandpaper, working along the wood grain until you get to the bare wood.
  • If the stain covers a large surface, you could need an electric or belt sander.
  • On the bare wood, sand again using finer 150-grit sandpaper, working along the wood grain to achieve a smooth sanding until the whole stain is removed.
  • When sanding, avoid sanding beyond the stained area to limit your refinishing work later.
  • Wipe the sawdust clean away from the sanded surface using a tack cloth, a wet sponge, or rag.
  • Collect some of the sawdust for mixture with wood putty when you have to fill in the excess holes. Also, using the wood putty mixture ensures that the color matches with the wood making it look as natural as possible.


  • Refinishing of wood means repairing the spots of a finished wood that you sanded.
  • Fill up holes and cracks with wood putty.
  • Allow the wood putty to dry in the filled area and sand until it is smooth
  • Wipe off sawdust.
  • Apply finish onto the area and allow it to dry completely.

How to make Dark Stained Wood Lighter

Can dark stained woods be lightened? You can lighten dark stained woods. If you are not pleased with the appearance of your furniture, one of the effective ways of lightening your wood is bleaching it. Furniture made of wood that is light in color, such as cedar, maple, ash, oak, pine, etc., is easier to be lightened when stained compared with woods such as cherry, walnut, and mahogany which have natural dark colors.

If your dark-stained wood has a topcoat finishing such as varnish, polyurethane, or lacquer, it has to be completely removed before lightening the wood. Here is how to go about lightening your dark stained wood:

Apply a finish stripper with a paintbrush to the wood furniture or floor you want to lighten and leave it to dry for another 20-30 minutes.
The essence of the finish stripper, as the name implies, is to conveniently strip off the old finish on your wood surface. While you work, ensure you work along the line of grain. Follow safety measures by working in a well-ventilated environment to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

Scrap off the finish with a scraper. Hold your scarper at an angle of 45° to the wood and work in the direction of the wood grain. Continue until the old finish is completely removed.

Mix Wood Bleach

In mixing wood bleach, you can either employ one bleach solution or two bleach solutions. If you are using oxalic acid, follow the mixing directions for an appropriate result. If you use the 2-bleach solution mixture, use an equal amount of both solutions for the best results.

Oxalic acid is the most common wood bleach. It works best on naturally light woods such as light in colors such as cedar, maple, ash, oak, and pine.
Apply a thin coat of bleach mixture on your wood surface with a brush. You can use a roller or mop if you are working on a large surface such as a wood floor. Leave to dry for another 30 minutes.

  • Wipe the wood surface with vinegar solution to maintain wood color
  • Wipe the wood surface with a cloth soaked in clean water to remove any bleach or vinegar.
  • Leave out in a cool place to dry.
  • Sand wood again lightly to level out the wood until it is smooth to touch.
  • Apply new finish

Conclusion – How to Remove Dark Stains From Wood

Beautiful wood furniture no doubt adds beauty to every home, especially when they are new. Stains on wood affect the appearance of furniture and other materials it is made with, and people try to hide this as much as they can. However, you don’t have to leave it if you know what it takes to remove dark stains from your woods. Removing stains especially dark stains from wood doesn’t have to be a difficult task.

There are different homemade ingredients you can use to restore the glory of your once beautiful furniture. Depending on the severity of the stain, toothpaste, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and oxalic Acid are capable of removing the stain from your wood furniture, floors, and chopping board. The hardest stain can always be removed by sanding and refinishing to give your woods the beautiful appearance they once possessed.

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