Hardwood floor stains can happen no matter how careful we are to clean, maintain and protect the finish and the wood. In all cases, use the least aggressive cleaner and tools possible such as a neutral cleaner for urethane finishes and a non-abrasive cloth.

Everyday Hardwood Floor Stains

Use a recommended or general hardwood floor cleaner approved for polyurethane-finished floors.

Water Marks, Food, Rubber Heel or Scuff Marks, Mold or Mildew

  • Apply hardwood floor cleaner to a soft, clean cloth.
  • Rub the area to remove the stain.
  • Dry thoroughly and buff to restore shine.

If mold is on the surface of your floor, wiping with hardwood floor cleaner often removes it. If the mold is beneath the finish and on the wood itself, a sand and refinish will be needed.

Pet Urine Hardwood Floor Stains

If the pet urine is on the surface of the floor, apply hardwood floor cleaner to a soft, clean cloth. Rub the area to remove the stain. Dry thoroughly and buff to restore shine.

Pet Urine - Hardwood Floor StainsThe best method for dealing with pet urine stains is prevention. Stay on top of it. Wipe up urine as quickly as possible.

If pet urine is an ongoing problem, take action.

Maybe that requires training, kenneling, medical accessories or simply taking a walk-through of your home before bed each evening. A five minute tour of your hardwood floors to catch mishaps is well worth it.

Unfortunately, hardwood floor pet stain removal is not possible once it has seeped through the finish and soaked into the wood. A sand and refinish is needed.

Tougher, Less Common Stains

For tough stains and sticky substances, try these tips from industry experts.

Oil, Grease, Crayon, Stickers or Sticky Paper

Apply mineral spirits, Goof Off® or Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) to a soft, clean cloth and wipe the area to remove the substance. Wipe up any chemical residue with another clean, slightly dampened cloth, dry thoroughly and then buff to restore the shine.

Be sure to wear a mask when using products like these to avoid toxic fumes.

Candle Wax or Chewing Gum

Apply ice, sealed in a plastic bag, to the area. The substance should become brittle enough to break off. Then immediately dry all of the water or moisture. You can also mist the area with hardwood floor cleaner, allowing the liquid to seep beneath the residue to loosen it, then dry the area thoroughly.

A straight-edge plastic spatula or credit card can be used to gently scrape off the substance, taking care not to scratch the floor’s surface.

Paint, Marker, Lipstick, Ink or Tar

If you’ve tried hardwood floor cleaner and some vigorous rubbing, mineral spirits or TSP, experts say a last resort is nail polish remover.

Very carefully, apply a small amount of nail polish remover to a cloth, dab, and then lightly rub the stain. Be sure to follow up with a clean damp cloth to remove any residual chemical. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, steel wool, and heavy-duty scouring pads.

* Note: These methods could dull or damage your floor’s finish. Use cautionary amounts and clean chemical residue thoroughly.

Area Rugs and Rug Pad Stains

Since wood is a natural material, sunlight (UV rays) and other factors can affect the color of your hardwood flooring. Move area rugs frequently and use heavy drapes or blinds on your windows to balance natural discoloration of your floors.

Rug pads made with certain materials react with the finish and stain a pattern or discoloration into your hardwood floor. The wrong rug pad can do serious damage that requires a sand and re-coat.

Learn more about our rug and rug pad recommendations:

Area Rugs for Hardwood Floors
Rug Pads for Polyurethane-finished Wood Floors

When it comes to hardwood floor stains, the least expensive route is always prevention. Be proactive and protect your wood flooring for lasting, blemish-free beauty.