How to Remove an Oil Stain From Wood

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A number of oily things -- such as greasy food and body lotions -- can stain your home's wood flooring or your furniture. Whether the wood is finished or unfinished, you may be able to remove the unsightly oil spot using a variety of methods. In either case, it's important not to saturate the wood with too much water, which can loosen old glues and cause new stains.

Mineral Spirits Method

You can use a mineral spirits wash, such as paint thinner, to dissolve an oil stain on both finished and unfinished wood. Simply dampen a soft, clean cloth with a small amount of the spirits and rub it into the wood, working with the grain, to work the grease out. You can repeat the process as often as needed until the oil is dissolved.

Oxygenated Bleach Method

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Another way to remove an oil stain from finished or unfinished wood is with oxygenated bleach. To make the cleaning solution, put on protective gloves and mix one scoop of a commercial powdered oxygenated bleach with 1 cup of warm water. Work a small amount of the mixture into the stain using a soft cloth. Then, scrub the wood gently with a soft-bristled brush, working in the same direction of the grain. Wipe the solution off of the wood with a soft, dry cloth and repeat the procedure until the stain is gone.

Ammonia Method

Free unfinished or finished wood of the oil stain by putting on protective gloves and combining 1 part household ammonia and 4 parts warm water. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and wring it out before wiping it over the stain on the wood flooring or furniture. Again, repeat the process as needed until the oil is gone. As the ammonia may discolor certain types of wood finishes, test the solution on an inconspicuous location first to check the reaction.

Gum Turpentine and Boiled Linseed Method

To help wash away an oil stain, put on protective gloves and mix 2 tablespoons of gum turpentine and 4 tablespoons of boiled linseed oil per each gallon of hot water. Dip a soft rag into the solution and wring it out before rubbing it into the oil stain. Repeat the process as many times as you need to until the spot is gone. Dry and buff the wood with another soft cloth. If the wood is finished, you can polish it with lemon oil or surface wax.

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Josh Arnold

Josh Arnold has been a residential and commercial carpenter for 15 years and likes to share his knowledge and experience through writing. He is a certified journeyman carpenter and took college-accredited courses through the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters training center. As a Los Angeles-based union carpenter, Arnold builds everything from highrises to bridges, parking structures and homes.