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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.

wood stain remover

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. 

If you’re looking for the perfect wood stain remover, we can help. Below, we’ll provide product reviews for five of the best wood stain removers on 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

How To Remove Stain From Wood

Wood stain remover is toxic and dangerous. You’ll need to wear a face mask, google, and gloves. If you’re working indoors, make sure the room is ventilated as the remover’s fumes are strong.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions apply the remover to the wood surface. When the surface begins to bubble, that’s when it’s time to wipe the stain remover away with a clean towel.

How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

To remove water stains from wood, the first thing to do is identify the surface. If you’re removing water stains that are dark, there’s a good chance the water has penetrated into the wood which might require you to refinish the surface.

If the water stains are white, then you can remove them by using the following DIY homemade solutions.

  • Mayonnaise – with a paper towel, apply mayonnaise over the stain and rub it on the stain until it’s gone.
  • Vinegar and olive oil – combine equal parts and mix them. Use a clean towel and rub the mixture on the stain. You want to rub in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Toothpaste – cover the water stain with toothpaste and rub over the stain until it’s gone. 

Best Wood Stain Removers

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

1. DEFY Exterior Wood Stain Stripper

DEFY Exterior Wood Stain StripperView in gallery

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

Sunnyside View in gallery

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 wood surfaces. 
  • Easy to use. 


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

3. Deck Wood Stain Stripper

Deck Wood Stain StripperView in gallery

Need a wood stain remover that’s easy to use and also 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 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.
  • Fast effective. 
  • Can cover  100 to 150 square feet.
  • Will restore the natural look of your decks. 


  • Some mentioned that you’d need to put forth heavier effort to remove grit and stains. 

4. Citristrip QCSG801 Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel

 Citristrip QCSG801 Paint & Varnish Stripping GelView in gallery

Another great wood stain remover is this stripping gel that’s 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 can remove 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. 


  • Remains wet for up to 24 hours. 
  • Can strip a few layers in one easy step. 
  • Doesn’t contain harmful substances. 
  • Fresh citrus scent .


  • Some have said that it doesn’t remove paint as expected.

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

Sunnyside 657G1A Multi-Strip ADVANCED Paint & Varnish RemoverView in gallery

We have this paint and varnish remover that’s great at removing wood stains. Since it doesn’t contain methylene chloride or NMP, it’s safe and effective in removing multiple layers of paint, varnish, stain and more. Thanks to its powerful formula, it works in 30 minutes. A light coating is enough to remove four layers.  

When applying the wood stain remover, use a brush, nap paint roller, or putty knife. You can use it for both interior or exterior surfaces. Unlike other removers, this one can tackle rugged coatings like epoxy and urethane. 


  • Doesn’t contain harmful substances. 
  • Can remove multiple layers of stain with ease.
  • Works in about 30-minutes.
  • A light coating is enough. 


  • Powerful odor. 

How To Remove Dark Stain From Wood

There are two DIY home remedies you can use to remove dark stains from wood. Both methods are simple and safe.

  • White Vinegar – Get a few paper towels and soak them in white vinegar. Place the paper towels over the stain. Wait 30 minutes and then remove them. Take a clean, damp rag and wipe the stained area. 
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Blot a clean towel with hydrogen peroxide. Damp the towel on the stain so the peroxide penetrates the wood surface. Leave the towel on the wood stain for eight hours. Next, remove the towel and wipe the stained area with a clean, wet towel. 
  • Salt and Olive Oil – Mix one tablespoon of salt and two tablespoons of olive oil to create a paste. Cover the dark stain with the paste. Let it sit for one hour. Next, use a dry rag to wipe the paste away, and that should do the trick. 

Homemade Wood Stain Remover

If wood stain gets on your skin, don’t panic. It’s easy to remove. You can use an isopropyl alcohol and acetone mixture or rubbing alcohol. Get a clean towel and wet it with your DIY skin cleaning solution. Rub the stain and apply firm pressure until the stain is gone. Rinse your skin with warm water and soap. 

Another DIY homemade wood stain remover is mineral spirits. Use a clean towel or rag, wet it with mineral spirits, and then wipe the wood stain off your skin. You can use the mineral spirits to remove wood stains from your skin. 

As listed in the sections above, there are plenty of DIY homemade wood stain removers available, and there’s a good chance you have at least one of them in your home. 

How To Remove Oil Based Stain From Wood

Removing oil-based stain from wood isn’t hard, but there is a process you should follow if you want to achieve your goal. Wood stain removers are strong and should not be inhaled, so you will need to protect yourself. Here are the steps to remove oil-base stain from wood:

  • Wear a face mask, protective eyewear, and gloves.
  • Clean your work area.
  • Pour stripper in a clean plastic bowl.
  • Use a clean natural bristle paintbrush, paint the stripper over the oil-based wood stain.
  • Let the stripper sit for 20 minutes. Wait for the surface to bubble.
  • Take a scraper and remove the wood stain. Do not apply too much pressure.
  • Get a steel wood pad and let it soak in the stripper first and then use it to wipe away the wood stain.
  • Use medium-grit sandpaper to sand the area.
  • Wipe the surface with a clean, wet towel.

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 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. Odor 

Some wood stain removers come with strong odors 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 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 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. 

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, sand the wood surface. Make sure your surface has dried for at least 24 hours before you begin sanding. Wear safety goggles and a face mask. Then, sand the dry surface, you’d want to use a good amount of pressure to reduce traces of the stain and wood stain remover, but make sure you don’t harm 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. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How To Remove Oil-Based Stain From Wood?

Oil-base stains work best on outdoor wood that’s exposed to rain, wind, direct sunlight, and other harsh weather conditions. The oil base stain provides a layer of protection that makes the wood longer lasting and more durable.

Backyard decks and outdoor wood furniture need protection. As oil-based stains are darker than water-based stains, their color is darker and complements the wood color. Before applying an oil-based stain, remove the existing wood stain. Removal methods are available that won’t harm the surface or wood grains.

If the previous wood stain was oil-based, then you should apply a water-based stain.

How To Remove Wood Stain From Concrete?

When removing wood stain from concrete, muriatic acid is the best and cheapest method. Muriatic acid is strong and requires protective gear like rubber gloves and eye goggles. 

Mix one part of muriatic acid with 20 parts of water in a large plastic bucket. Pour the mixture over the wood stain. After the stain is removed, rinse the area with water. 

How To Remove Wood Stain From Skin?

If wood stain gets on your skin, don’t panic. It’s easy to remove. You can use an isopropyl alcohol and acetone mixture or rubbing alcohol. Get a clean towel and wet it with your DIY skin cleaning solution. Rub the stain and apply firm pressure until the stain is gone. Rinse your skin with warm water and soap. 

Another DIY home remedy is mineral spirits. Use a clean towel or rag, wet it with mineral spirits, and then wipe the wood stain off your skin. You can use the mineral spirits to remove wood stains from your skin. 

Does Wood Stain Prevent Bugs?

The chemical components in wood stains will keep insects away from your DIY wood project, but not over the long term. Wood stain soaks into wood but doesn’t offer a protective layer. The wood will be vulnerable to insects, water damage, mold, and fungus.

One thing to consider is how carpenter bees like stained wood surfaces. Because wood stain is dark and has a unique odor, it could attract carpenter bees.

How To Remove Alcohol Stains From Wood?

Make a light paste with a non-drying oil like lemon or mineral oil. Non-drying oils are risky, so make sure you remove them after they’ve treated the wood surface.

When applying the paste and rubbing over the stain, your motions need to follow the direction of the wood grain. To remove the paste and any oily residue, sprinkle the area with flour. Blot a few paper towels with water to remove the paste.

And for the final step, use a clean rag to remove moisture and then clean the wood surface.

Remove Stain From Wood Conclusion

Removing stains from wood or other surfaces isn’t hard. If you have the right wood stain remover and follow the steps, then you’ll achieve your goal. When removing wood stains, remember to wear the proper safety gear to ensure protection.