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by Canadian Sanders


There are two types of water stains that can affect wood floors: white and black stains. White stains generally affect only the surface finish, while black stains penetrate the wood. To remove water stains from wood floors effectively, it is important to differentiate between these two types of stains. Having a clear understanding of the differences between white and black stains is crucial for successful stain removal.

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Types of Water Stains

  • Cloudy White Stains

“White stain” is a term used to describe surface discoloration that affects only the finish of a wooden floor. This type of smoky-looking water stain is commonly seen on site-finished wood floors and is not typically associated with UV factory-finished wood floors.

  • Dark Black Stains

Dark black stains on wood floors can give the appearance of slightly charred wood. These water stains can penetrate deep into the wood and occur on any type of wood floor. Depending how deep the stain goes into the wood. Board replacement could be your only solution. Dark black stains can also look similar to pet stains that are caused from your furry pets. 

We will now examine different types of water stains and their removal methods in detail. Both white and black stains will be discussed

 Wood Floors – How to Remove White Stains

Removing a white stain from a wood floor is notoriously a trial and error process. This is because each water stain is different – although these surface layer stains only affect the wood floor finish, the depth of penetration into the finish combined with the type of wood floor finish itself can reduce the effectiveness of removal attempts.

Methods for removing white stains from wood floors:

  • Using an alcohol-dampened cloth removes water rings and just enough alcohol so you don’t damage the finish. 
  • Apply furniture polish, mayonnaise, or petroleum jelly to the damaged area and allow it to remain overnight. 
  • If the previous methods fail to remove the damage, you can try using a mild abrasive to rub through it. Usually, the damage is only on the surface, so be careful not to rub too hard and create a different kind of sheen. Toothpaste can be used as a suitable abrasive.

Alternative methods… where the above methods do not succeed in removing the white stain, there are several alternative ‘household’ methods that may work. Apply gentle heat using a hair dryer or a steam iron (make sure to keep the hair dryer moving so as to avoid burning the floor, and likewise be sure to place a towel between the iron and the floor). 

How to Remove Black Stain on Wood Floors

If the water has darkened and stained the wood, you will need to strip the finish and bleach out the dark stain.

How to remove black stains from wood floors:

Sandpaper (100 grit)

To start, use 100-grit sandpaper to eliminate the top layer of the floor. This should take care of any water stains that haven’t deeply penetrated the wood. Make sure to rub the sandpaper in the direction of the grain. Lastly, apply several coats of the desired finish, whether it be varnish, water-based, wax, or any other type of finish that is on the floor. 


When sanding fails to remove a deep water stain from wood, the last resort is to apply bleach directly onto the affected area to lighten the stain. This process may take several hours, and once the stain is gone, the area should be neutralized with water. You may need to apply bleach to the area multiple times. Once the stain is gone, apply several coats of floor finish to match the original finish.

This is a gentler option than bleach. Use a four-part water to one-part hydrogen-peroxide solution, increasing strength if desired.


If you have water stains on your wood floors and want to remove them, you can follow the steps you learned. Additionally, if you attempt it yourself and the stain proves too stubborn to remove, you can also enlist professional help.

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