How to Remove Black Stains from Hardwood Floors

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If you are thinking about adding hardwood flooring to your home, you probably already know that it is a wonderful addition that will improve the overall aspect of the house. Just like any other type of flooring, it needs special maintenance, unless you want it to lose its charm and look bad over time.

Stains can appear on any surface, no matter how many times you clean it. Hardwood floors are no exception to the rule, and if you find yourself in the position to need to remove black stains, you might have to work hard and repeat some procedures more than once – depending on the size and severity of the stain you are trying to get rid of. But, in the end, it will all be worth it when you see your floor looking like new!

It takes a little more work to remove black stains, beyond just the basic cleaning of your hardwood flooring. Here is the detailed process:

White Stains vs Black Stains

Before we get into all the various black stain removal techniques, it’s important to understand the difference between black stains and the white ones.

Simply put, white stains represent fresher stains that only affect the surface of the wood. They are not so hard to remove, considering they didn’t make their way inside the wood.

Woman removing black stains from her hardwood floors

Black stains, on the other hand, are an indicator that there’s some wood damage, and you’ll have a much harder time trying to remove them. This is why black stains are so problematic.

Ideally, you should always try to clean your floors as soon as some mess or spillage happens and not even allow the black stains to happen in the first place – but no one is perfect!

Supplies Needed

Before you start working your hands to remove the dark stains, you must make sure you have the following things ready:

  • Damp cloth
  • ​Vinegar
  • ​Mineral spirits
  • ​Bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hardwood floor wax
  • ​Steel Wool
  • ​Water

How to Remove Black Stains

Now that you have all the “ingredients” and the tools for cleaning, it’s time to get down on your knees and work on removing the stains. As mentioned before, there are several different techniques you can use. Here’s how to do each of them.

1. Clean the Surface

Although black stains are working inside the wood, that doesn’t mean the surface shouldn’t be taken into consideration. It’s just as important to clean it because it’s the part that is always visible.

To do that, first vacuum your hardwood floors and then take a damp (not wet!) cloth and rub it over the surface. You don’t need any chemicals or cleaning solutions for this part. Try to remove the grime and dirt from the floor.

If you don’t remove the dirt, you risk scratching the surface of the wood, thus ruining its surface even more. If you don’t want to use a damp cloth, you can go for a mop instead.

Once you’re done, take a piece of steel wool and rub the area lightly, so you scour it and help it blend with the other areas of the floor that haven’t been stained. This part will be of great help in the future, in case you need to refinish the floor.

2. Use Vinegar

Nowadays, vinegar has become a very popular kitchen product because, besides the fact that it’s very good for salads, it’s also very powerful for cleaning too.

When there are so many chemicals surrounding us and you can never be sure what’s inside some cleaning product, it’s always a good idea to opt for natural solution like vinegar for your hardwood flooring.

What you need to do for this step is to take a clean rag and soak it in vinegar, and then apply it to the stain. There won’t be immediate results, so you must let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes.

If the stain is more severe or larger, applying more vinegar constantly might be necessary, and results should start showing after waiting for a longer time. The ultimate goal of this process is to lighten the stain and make it less visible.

3. Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another substance that could have a really positive effect on your stained hardwood floor. Dilute it a bit with water before you use it and you should be able to lighten and remove most of the stubborn stains on your floors.

Woman holding a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and mineral spirits

What you have to do is soak a cloth in that diluted solution, then add it to the stain and let it work for a few minutes. Just like with the vinegar, this substance should lighten the stains and get rid of the ugly effect they have on your floor.

4. Apply Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits might also help with removing the excess dirt that is ruining the surface of your floor. By using a piece of steel wool, you must gently scour the floorboards, making sure you go along the grain.

Be patient with this especially if the stain and dirt have been building up for a few years. Mineral spirits will remove the nasty stains and reveal the original finish of the wood.

5. Mix Bleach and Water

Isn’t it funny how some solutions you were using for something else can actually work with different issues, too? Bleach might have been used to remove the stains from your white clothing, but it can do a great job at removing hardwood floor stains as well.

In order to create the solution, you have to make a mixture of one-part bleach and four parts water. The result should then be sprayed and wiped onto the exposed surface of the floor. This is great for removing harder setting stains such as blood.

Consequently, the stain should lose its dark color and become lighter, improving the look of the flooring as a result. Isn’t that amazing?

In the event that you don’t really see any change in the color of the stain, you can try making the solution stronger, and repeat the process.

6. Add Protection

If you successfully remove a stubborn stain, you don’t want another one to appear again, do you? After the stain is removed, you must add a layer of hardwood floor wax on the floor to protect the area where the stain has been removed.

You should also sand, stain and refinish, so this section will match with the rest of the surface. If the stains were present all over the surface, it might be the best to refinish the whole floor and feel like you had brand new one installed.

Woman standing beside a mop

For maintenance purposes, it’s best to keep a good canister vacuum on hand ​so you can run it ​over your floors regularly. This style of vac is typically easier on delicate flooring.


Hardwood floors can definitely become a hassle if they get black stains. As they are much harder to remove compared to white stains, you’ll have a more challenging time trying to eliminate them.

Fortunately, it’s not impossible – it just requires you to take some time and willpower to do it. With a damp cloth, water and bleach, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and mineral spirits, the stains should lighten and stop tarnishing your flooring. Make sure you follow the steps that you were provided in this article without making any mistakes, and your hardwood floor shall be as beautiful as new.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.