How to Get an Oil Stain out of Wood

If you have wood furniture at home, you probably know that they often fall victim to all sorts of stains. Perhaps the worst of these types of stains are oil stains.

Wood is a porous natural material making it easy for oil to penetrate beneath the surface and leave an unsightly mark. The good news is that we are here to teach you how to get an oil stain out of wood.

Whether you are dealing with an olive oil stain on your kitchen cabinet or want to remove skin oil from your wooden furniture, we have you covered.

Because in this comprehensive cleaning guide, we will outline all the steps for ridding your wooden furniture of oil stains for good.

How to Remove Oil Stains from Wood Furniture

Step 1: Absorb Oil

Dealing with any type of wood stain, particularly those involving moisture (such as removing water stains from wood furniture), will start with absorbing the liquid as far as possible.

You will need newspaper or paper towels to absorb the oil from an oil stain. Simply blot the stain with the material of your choice until the oil has been soaked up.

how to get oil stain out of wood

Alternatively, you can use baking powder or sawdust to soak up the oil. 

Cover the oil stain with sawdust or baking soda until it is about a quarter inch thick. This method is also useful for removing grease stains from wood floors.

Leave it for several hours or overnight, and vacuum up the powder afterward. You can use a hand vacuum or a specialized tool such as the Rotovac Sheardry.

If the stain is relatively fresh, absorbing the oil may be all that is required. But often, an oil stain will remain, and you must move on to the next step.

Step 2: Clean the Stain

After absorbing the oil, you are ready to start cleaning the stain. Now, there are a variety of creative ways to do this. Luckily, most of them involve things you have in your kitchen.

We have listed the most popular options below.

Method 1: Soap Suds

Mix a little bit of dish detergent and warm water in a bowl for this method. Then, mix the solution around to create soap suds.

Take a soft-bristled brush or clean cloth and scoop up some of the soap suds. Then, work the soapy solution into the oil stain.

Having a firm grip is essential but don’t be too abrasive, as this may damage the wood.

how to get oil stains out of wood

Method 2: The Iron Method

This method is tried and tested and has been used to remove black stains from wood caused by water damage.

Start by placing a brown paper bag or kraft paper over the stain. 

Ensure your iron is set to the lowest setting, and rub the iron over the paper bag. This process liquefies the oil and allows the paper to soak it up.

Use a clean sheet of paper once the paper has become saturated with oil.

You may need to follow this method with Step 1 (absorbing the oil) since the oil is being released from the wood.

Method 3: Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are a great cleaning agent for removing paint stains from wood furniture, but they can also be helpful for other tough stains, such as cleaning sticky residue from wood furniture or even dealing with oil stains.

This is your best course of action when dealing with an older or more stubborn stain.

For this method, simply dampen the edge corner of a clean cloth with the spirits.

You can also use a cotton ball. Rub the furniture piece with the cloth in a circular motion.

Ensure that you don’t saturate the wood with the spirits. Repeat as often as necessary to get rid of the stain.

how to get oil out of wood

You can also use turpentine instead of mineral spirits. The most important thing to note here is that this method may lighten or damage your wood finish.

So, if you try this method, you must buff the wood after cleaning (see Step 4).

Step 3: Rinse & Dry

If you used the soap sud method, rinse the area with clean water.

You don’t want to introduce too much moisture here, so the best way to do this is to dampen a cloth and wipe the area with it to remove all soapy residue.

If you used mineral spirits, you might want to clean the area with detergent and water first to ensure that the spirits are thoroughly removed.

Then, rinse the area as described above.

As mentioned earlier, if you use the iron method, you must first absorb the oil again before rinsing.

After doing this, you can clean the area using the soap sud method, wiping it down with water as described in this section.

After wiping the area down and ensuring that all soapy or chemical residue has been removed, you must allow it to dry.

You can create some ventilation in the room to speed up this process, or you can dry your furniture piece with a dry cloth to ensure that there is no residual moisture.

how to get oil stain out of wood table

Step 4: Finish Off

Now that you have removed the stains on your wooden furniture, it is time to polish it off.

As mentioned, this step is imperative if you used mineral spirits or turpentine. But we highly recommend including this step regardless of your cleaning method.

Not only will it give your furniture a brand-new shine, but it will also protect it against future damage.

We recommend using wax and #0000 steel wool for this step.

Use the steel wool to apply a thin layer of wax onto the furniture. Again, be sure to work in the direction of the wood grain.

Allow the product to sit for as long as the directions recommend, usually about half an hour.

Then, use a cloth and buff the furniture until it has assumed its new glossy sheen.


Oil stains on wood are not the end of the world. In fact, in less than an afternoon, you can get rid of them and ensure that your wooden furniture looks better than ever.

Better yet, you can do this with a bunch of stuff lying around the house.

So, why not break out your rubber gloves, raid the kitchen cabinets, and tackle those oil stains plaguing you?

The sooner you get it done, the sooner your wooden furniture will look as good as the day you bought it.

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