Dealing with Common Household Stains on Hardwood Floors

Rod Lorenz

Hardwood floors are beautiful and durable, but like anything in a busy home, they can get stained by real activities. Let's review seven of the most common household stains on hardwood floors and what you might be able to do for them.


Water stains are some of the easiest to remove from hardwood floors. Our preferred product is Glitsa Clean. An excellent cleaner for wood floors and other interior wood surfaces, Glitsa Clean contains no surface-dulling oils that collect dust and dirt, nor does it contain any waxy polishes that may cause buildup on the surface of your floor finish. Simply apply Glitsa Clean Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes, then wipe it away with a clean, damp cloth. Repeat as necessary until the stain is removed.


If you have pets, you may find that they occasionally leave stains on your hardwood floors. Luckily removing most pet stains can also be done with Glitsa Clean and may simply require letting it sit a little longer before wiping away with a clean, damp cloth. Repeat as necessary until the stain is removed. We also recommend using a little Dawn to help remove dog drool as it cuts the oils found in saliva very well.

Grease / Oil

Grease or oil stains can be a bit more difficult to remove from hardwood floors. To remove these stains, sprinkle baking soda onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a damp cloth to gently blot the area. Do not use water, as this can damage the hardwood. Once the stain is removed, wipe away any excess baking soda with a clean, damp cloth.


Bleach can be a disastrous spill and it most cases the issue is time. Gel-based bleach, often found in toilet cleaning products, is a lower concentrate bleach and will not stain as quickly as thinner liquid bleach products. However, if you’re using chlorine bleach this is much more powerful and can quickly dissolve away your flooring, causing not just stains but unsightly dents too. Clean up a bleach spill using a damp cloth or mop and wipe down the surface area. Don’t forget to wear gloves, as bleach is a hazardous chemical and can cause harm to the skin. This process should be followed for all types of hard flooring. If there is damage to wood flooring, refinishing may be required.


Red wine spills are not only unsightly, but they can also be challenging to remove. To remove red wine stains on the floor, apply a little soda water to the affected area. This may seem strange considering you’re adding to the spill, but the carbonation (bubbles) in the soda water will quickly dissolve the red pigmentation in the wine and help to prevent it from staining. After 30 seconds of soaking, take plenty of paper towels and soak up all the liquid. Be careful not to rub it, only placing it over the top of the water.

Ink / Paint

Ink or paint stains on hardwood floors can be particularly stubborn. To remove these stains, try using Glitsa Clean and following the manufacturer's instructions. If this does not work, you likely need refinishing help from a hardwood floor expert like Ralph's.

Nail Polish

Nail polish has a similar consistency and pigmentation to paint, which can make it difficult to remove once it has stained your floor. To avoid spreading the stain further into the wood, resist the temptation to immediately wipe up the spill. Instead, wait for it to dry completely. Once it has dried, use a plastic putty knife to gently scrape away the hardened polish. Be careful not to use anything too sharp that could damage your floors. After you have removed as much of the hardened polish as possible, spray the affected area with Glitsa Clean and let it sit for a few minutes.

Deep Stains in General

Mineral spirits are effective for removing a variety of deeper stains but a word of caution. They are similar to paint thinner and while they will not make hardwood swell they can cause discoloring or other unintended consequences. If you have a deep stain and don't want to risk further damage, contact us and one of our hardwood floor experts can take a look. 

Unfortunately not all stains can be removed. It is worth trying however and if you find a stubborn stain that won't go away, talk to the team at Ralph's about how they can help make your floor look new again.

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