How to Remove a Water Stain from a Wood Floor

If you have a wooden floor, you probably know the golden rule. Keep it dry. But let’s face it, sometimes life gets in the way, leaving you with unsightly water stains on your wood floor. 

These stains are often the result of cleaning, excess moisture, spills, or even rain. And unless you have water extraction equipment, you will often have to deal with water stains on your wooden floor. 

how to remove water stains from wooden floors

The good news is that this can be rectified with some elbow grease and a couple of easy steps. 

Want to know how to remove a water stain from a wood floor? This article will guide you through making water stain removal from wood floors a breeze. 

How To Get Rid Of Water Stains On Wood Floors

Step 1: Assess the Damage

Before you begin, you need to determine what type of stain you are dealing with. 

If you haven’t managed to adequately remove water from a wooden floor, you will be left with water stains. Water stains take on either a white or dark finish. 

White stains indicate that they are surface stains, in which case, you are in luck as these are easy to remove. 

Darker stains indicate that the water has penetrated deep into the surface of the wood. 

 how to remove water stains from wood floor

These stains give the wood a charred look and can also be observed when cleaning the subfloor after removing a carpet. 

If this is the case, you need a more thorough cleaning approach, as removing black stains from wood can be challenging. 

If the spot is a bit sticky, you are dealing with a slick spot caused by grease and need to follow the procedures for getting rid of a slick spot on a hardwood floor.

If you are sure the stain is the result of water, read on for more details. 

Luckily, it is less labor intensive than cleaning sticky residue from hardwood floors, as is the case when removing old glue from a wooden floor

Step 2: Sand The Area

For white stains, this step is sometimes enough to altogether remove the stain. For waxed floors, use #000 steel wool and wax and gently rub the stain. 

Alternatively, you can use mineral spirits and steel wool or 100-grit sandpaper and gently rub the stain. 

Always rub in the direction of the grain. 

After sanding, stain, wax, and buff the stain as you usually would, and use products that match the original coating of the wood. 

Step 3: Clean The Area

how to remove water stains from wood floors

If the above process does not suffice, you could continue with alternative cleaning procedures. The good news is that you won’t necessarily need harsh chemicals as you would when cleaning oil out of a wood floor. 

The bad news is that it might take some trial and error before you find a method that works. 

The Iron Method

Step 1: Iron Stain

The first method is to place a cloth over the stain and take an iron, not on the steam setting, and iron over the stain for three minutes. 

Step 2: Repeat

Then, dampen a cloth with some rubbing alcohol and repeat the process, ironing over the stain for a few seconds. 

Bleach Methods

If the above methods are ineffective, you can opt for using bleach. 

Step 1: Apply Bleach

Bleach is an incredible product for cleaning stains from wooden floors and is even effective in removing permanent marker from a wooden floor

For darker stains, it may be helpful to use the bleach and toothbrush method. Dip the toothbrush in a little bleach and gently rub over the stain. Let it rest, and repeat after a few hours. 

how to remove water stain on wood floor

You can also apply bleach directly onto the stain. This is also great for getting red wine out of wood, especially after it has dried. 

Step 2: Clean Up

After applying the bleach, wait a couple of hours and dry up any remnants of bleach that remains. Use a sponge or microfiber cloth to absorb it. 

This is important because any remaining bleach can ruin the wooden finish or leave nasty stains on your floor. 

Step 3: Prep For Finish

Then follow with a thin layer of vinegar. Use a sponge to soak up the vinegar. The vinegar will prep the floor for finishing. 

It is essential to prep the floor for finishing after using bleach to ensure that the finishing product works. 

You want to ensure the area is thoroughly cleaned and prepped before applying wax or finishing product. 

Step 4: Finish

Follow this with your finishing product to allow the floor to match the original finishes again. 

Natural Home Remedies

how to remove water stains from hardwood floors

If you are not a fan of bleach, you can opt for a more natural approach. This involves the use of lemon or vinegar. 

Step 1: Cover Stain

For this method, you want to mix equal parts vinegar and water. Alternatively, squeeze one lemon into a cup of water. Use a cloth and gently scrub the solution into the stain, following the grain of the wood. 

For tougher stains, add a teaspoon of baking soda or salt to your solution. 

You can also use toothpaste. Gently rub the toothpaste (use white toothpaste, not the gel kind) in a circular motion over the stain for no more than a minute. You should see the stain starting to disappear. 

You can also cover the stain with petroleum jelly or mayonnaise. The oils in these products can displace the water in the wood and help to remove the stain. 

Simply place the jelly or mayo on a paper towel and apply at least a dollop to the stained area. Leave it overnight and check if the stain has disappeared. 

Step 2: Clean and Dry

how to remove water stain from hardwood floor

When using any of the above methods, thoroughly clean and dry the area before following with wood finishing products. 


Water stains might happen often, but at least they aren’t there to stay. You can easily remove them using any of our tried and tested methods above. 

Whether you are dealing with old or newer stains, there are various ways to get your wooden floors back to their original condition. 

Are you ready to try them out?

Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking other guides:

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