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What Is The Best Way To Remove Stain From Wood?

Have you got some pesky wood stains that you’re trying to remove? Whether you’ve been updating your hardwood floors or refinishing a piece of furniture, there’s nothing more frustrating than a stain that refuses to come out. If that happens, it’s possible that you may not have the right wood stain remover. Removing your wood stains shouldn’t be a daunting task as it’s a relatively straightforward DIY project that shouldn’t take long. 

Remove Stain From Wood

If you’re looking for the perfect wood stain remover, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll provide a detailed product review of five of the best wood stain removers in the market. Before delving into each of the products, however, we’ll talk about what you should look for in a wood stain remover, the different types of wood stain removers, how to go about using a wood stain remover and more. 

Related: Extend The Life of The Furniture With The Best Wood Sealer

Why should you use a wood stain remover? 

If you want a simple and effective way to remove stains, a wood stain remover is the way to go. While there are a plethora of other methods out there, there’s no way that’s easier than using a wood stain remover. 

Scrapers, for example, will take you forever, and it’s also extremely labour-intensive. The same goes for a heat gun. While you could use a power sander or some form of rotary grinder, you’re going to deal with large amounts of dust and paint chips everywhere. This will not only make cleanup a pain, but it’s also not great for your health.

What to look for in a wood stain remover? 

When it comes to selecting a wood stain remover that best suits your needs, there’s a couple of things that you’d need to take into consideration. 

  1. Safety

If your wood stain remover consists of potent chemicals, it could be incredibly hazardous to both you and your family’s health. Ideally, you’d want to look for a wood stain remover that’s safe to use around your family. The best way to check if your wood stain remover is safe is to do a quick google on the chemicals listed on your product. 

  1. Effective removal of stains 

You’ll want to ensure that the wood stain remover you’re purchasing will remove the stains from your wood effectively. If you’re not sure, you can always check out the customer reviews to see if other individuals have had success with the product. 

  1. Odour 

Some wood stain removers come with strong odours that can make certain individuals feel sick. If possible, try to opt for a wood stain remover that has little to no odour so that it’s much easier to work with. 

  1. Shining properties 

If you’re using a wood stain remover on damaged wooden furniture, you can save hundreds of dollars trying to fix damaged furniture by opting for a wood stain remover that comes with shining properties. Not only will you need to only apply a single level of application, but it’ll also make your wood furniture look brand new.

  1. Versatility 

There’s no harm in checking if your wood stain remover can be used for other surfaces either than wood. With an all-round stain remover, you’ll be able to remove any stain on any surface with ease.

  1. Wood-friendly

Most importantly, you’d want to make sure that your wood stain remover is wood-friendly. The last thing you’d want is for it to remove stains but also damage your wood surfaces. Some wood stain removers are incredibly powerful and will effectively remove stains, but they’ll also damage wooden surfaces. Others might cause coloration on your wooden surfaces – which isn’t ideal.

To be sure, it’s always best to check out the reviews and check out the product information before proceeding with your purchase.

What are the different types of wood stain removers? 

There are a few different types of wood stain removers, and we’ll discuss each of them in greater detail below:

  1. Solvents

These work by dissolving the old finish with chemicals. Some examples of solvents that are used in wood stain removers include alcohol, acetone and toluene. A fantastic advantage of this product is its powerful cleaning capability. These are some of the only wood stain removers that can actually dissolve paint. Unfortunately, however, solvents are also usually the most toxic out of all of the wood stain removers. 

  1. Caustic 

Caustic wood stain removers work by dissolving the finish and converting it into another substance. They usually consist of strong acids or bases – both of which are corrosive. While these wood stain removers can be relatively harsh, sometimes it’s exactly what you need to remove the stains.

  1. Biochemical 

These are the best of both worlds as they use chemical substances with more natural ingredients. These wood stain removers consist of ingredients that are both safer to use and better for the environment. Some examples of ingredients used in these wood stain removers include citric acid, soy oil, wood-pulp extract and more. 

How to remove wood stains? 

Now that you’ve purchased the wood stain remover, how do you go about removing wood stains? We’ve gone ahead and detailed the steps below: 

Prepare the surface along with your workspace 

As wood stain removers can have strong fumes, it’s best if you’re able to work either outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Then, you’d want to go ahead and clean the surface area that you’re working with, do so with soapy water before drying with either a cloth or paper towels. 

When preparing your workspace, take care in making sure that your wood stain remover doesn’t accidentally splash or spill into other surfaces. If you’re using your wood stain remover on furniture, place your remover on top of a drop cloth and remove any metal objects around the area if you’re using it on wooden floors, place painter’s tape along the seams where the wall meets the floor.  

Remember that safety is essential so you should always wear protective gloves, safety goggles and clothes with long sleeves to protect your skin. 

Go ahead and apply the wood stain remover. 

Start by pouring the wood stain remover into either a glass or metal container and proceed to apply it according to the instructions stated on the remover. To do so, you’d want to use a paintbrush with natural fibers. Make sure that you’re applying both an even and thick layer. You can also use the tip of the brush to make sure that you’re applying it into any nooks and crannies. Once you’ve applied your wood stain remover, let it sit for about 20 minutes before reapplying as needed.  

If you’re new to removing stains, try and work in small areas at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed. 

Scrape the residue 

After you’re done applying the wood stain remover, go ahead and scrape the residue. Remember to do so only after the remover has swelled or bubbled up. Do so with a plastic scraper or a putty knife, try to avoid using metal tools with sharp edges as that can scratch the wood. Make sure that you’re doing so gently, and try to scrape it directly into a trash can. 

For difficult areas, you’d want to use a steel wool pad – try to also scrub it in the direction of the grain. Then, you’d want to go ahead and wipe the surface with a damp cloth and remove any remaining residue or material on the surface. 

Sand the surface 

If you’d like, you can go ahead and sand the surface of your wood. Make sure that your surface has dried for at least 24 hours before proceeding with sanding. Before sanding your surface, wear safety goggles along with a facemask. Then, you’d want to sand the dry surface, you’d want to use a good amount of pressure to reduce any other traces of the stain and wood stain remover, but make sure that you’re not damaging the wood. 

Once you’ve removed everything you’d like and thoroughly sanded the surface, go ahead and wipe off the dust along with any loose sandpaper grit. Finally, you’ll want to sand the surface with a 180-grit until you’ve removed all marks and ensured that the surface is smooth. 

Clean up the area 

The last step is to clean up the area, and you’re good to go. To do so, you’d want to wipe the wood surface with a cloth and vacuum all of the sawdust around the area. If you’d like, you can also use bleach to lighten the color of the wood and remove any water marks. If you do choose to bleach your wood, the best woods for bleaching are oak, gum, beech along with ash. 

Best Wood Stain Removers

Below are five of the best wood stain removers that we’ve rounded up.

1. DEFY Exterior Wood Stain Stripper

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Are you looking for an excellent exterior wood stain remover? If so, this particular product will do the trick. Not only will it remove worn stains and sealers, but it’s also suitable for removing semi-transparent stains, clear wood finishes, penetrating sealers and varnishes. It’s a water-based stain stripper that’ll restore natural beauty to your wood surfaces with ease. To use this product, all you’ve got to do is follow three simple steps, and you’re good to go. 

You’ll start by applying the wood stain remover with a pump-up sprayer to the wood. Then, you’ll wait for at least 20-30 minutes for the stains to breakdown. If needed, you can also add additional remover to the wood to keep it wet. Then, all you’ve got to do is rinse the remover off with a pressure washer, and you’re done. It’s a ready to use formula that’s easy to use and has garnered positive reviews. In the reviews, individuals mentioned that it’s a product that’s simple to use and provides them with the results that they need. 


  • Great exterior wood stain remover 
  • Suitable for removing a range of stains and sealers 
  • Will restore natural beauty to your wood surfaces 
  • Easy to use 


  • Some mentioned that it isn’t as effective for oil-based stains

2. Sunnyside 63532 2-Minute Remover Advanced Paint & Varnish Remover Liquid

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If you want a wood stain remover that’s relatively safe to use, opt for this particular wood stain remover. It comes in various sizes that you can select from and also comes in both liquid and gel form. This newly formulated solution is methylene chloride-free and will remove more than one layer of finish with a thin layer of application. It can be used on wood, metal and even automotive finishes. 

Due to its potent formula, it’s also capable of removing both latex and oil-based paint along with lacquer, shellac and plenty more. With each gallon, you’ll be able to strip up to 25 square feet with ease. It’s not difficult to use, all you’ve got to do is pour or brush the wood stain remover onto the surface and wait for a couple of minutes. Once it’s done, proceed to scrape off the layers, wipe away with a cloth, and you’re done. You can also use a wire brush to scrub at any stubborn areas. 


  • Great exterior wood stain remover 
  • Good for removing a range of stains and sealers 
  • Will restore natural beauty to your wood surfaces 
  • Easy to use 


  • Some mentioned that it has a relatively thin consistency to it

3. Deck Wood Stain Stripper

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Need a wood stain remover that’s easy to use and also incredibly effective? You’d want to purchase this particular wood stain remover as it’s great at removing existing, weathered along with semi-transparent stains and sealers. One gallon is also able to cover about 100 to 150 square feet of space. Not only will it help to improve adhesion of wood stains, but it’ll also help with restoring the natural look of your decks. 

Using it is simple; all you’ve got to do is generously apply wood stain remover with a pump sprayer. Then, you’d want to wait about 30 minutes to an hour for the stain to break down. After that, all you need to do is use a pressure washer to loosen the stain, and you’re all set. It’s a three-step process that’ll effectively remove stains in no time at all. 


  • Easy to use
  • Incredibly effective 
  • Can cover about 100 to 150 square feet of space
  • Will restore the natural look of your decks 


  • Some mentioned that you’d need to put in a reasonable amount of effort to remove the grit and stain 

4. Citristrip QCSG801 Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel

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Another great wood stain remover is this stripping gel that’s incredibly easy to use. Since it’ll stay wet for about a day or so, you can strip a few layers in one easy step. Additionally, you can also use this remover for latex and oil-based paint along with varnish, lacquer, shellac, and so much more. It also doesn’t contain harmful substances such as methylene chloride or NMP. 

If you’re looking for a wood stain remover that doesn’t emit a strong smell, you’d also be happy to know that this particular wood stain remover comes with a fresh citrus scent. As it’s a powerful formula, it’s also able to remove around five layers of dried latex paint in under an hour. Individuals that have used this wood stain remover are impressed and mentioned that it produced impressive results. 


  • Stays wet for up to 24 hours 
  • Can strip a few layers in one easy step 
  • Doesn’t contain harmful substances 
  • Comes with a fresh citrus scent 


  • Some mentioned that it doesn’t remove paint as well as expected

5. Sunnyside 657G1A Multi-Strip ADVANCED Paint & Varnish Remover

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Finally, we’ve got this paint and varnish remover that’s great at removing wood stains. Since it doesn’t contain any methylene chloride or NMP, it’s not only safe but will also effectively remove up to multiple layers of paint, varnish, stain and more. Thanks to its powerful formula, this product will work in about 30 minutes, and just a light coating is sufficient to remove up to four layers.  

To apply this wood stain remover, you can use either a brush, nap paint roller or a putty knife – whichever you prefer. You can use it for both interior or exterior surfaces, and it’ll also adhere to vertical surfaces. Unlike other removers, you can also use this wood stain remover to get rid of more difficult coatings such as epoxy and urethanes. 


  • Doesn’t contain harmful substances 
  • Can remove multiple layers of stain with ease 
  • Works in about 30-minutes
  • Just a light coating is more than sufficient 


  • Some mentioned that it has a powerful odour 

Bottom Line 

We hope that this article was helpful, and you’ve learned more about wood stain removers. Removing stains doesn’t have to be an arduous process, all you’ve got to do is purchase the right remover, follow the necessary steps, and you’re all set. When you’re removing your wood stains, remember to also put on the proper safety gear to ensure that you’re getting the appropriate protection.