Understanding Flooring Options

How To Remove Oil Stains From Hardwood Floors

by Vincent Hoffman

Hardwood flooring is resistant to general wear and tear, but it can be easily stained by a number of different substances, most notably oil. Oil stains on hardwood flooring can be extremely hard to remove, since simply washing your floors won't remove it and it will quickly adhere to the finish of your floorboards, marring the appearance of your otherwise natural looking flooring. Thankfully, if you do happen to get oil stains on your hardwood floors, there are a number of steps that you can take to remove them.

Before You Begin

Gather all of the chemicals and materials that you'll be using to speed the cleaning process up as much as possible. You'll need clean rags, mineral spirits, common household detergent, a plastic putty knife, and fuller's earth. All of these items, with the exception of fuller's earth, which can be found at automotive repair stores, can be found at most hardware stores.

Removing Oil Stains from Hardwood Flooring

First things first, identify the area that you are going to be working on. Use a mixture of warm water and cleaning detergent to scrub away any dirt or other contaminants which may be sitting on top of your hardwood and the stain. This allows you to treat the stain directly.

Next, apply mineral spirits to a clean rag and scrub it into the stained area in a circular motion. For recent stains that are relatively light, this will be more than enough to eliminate them. However, for stronger oil stains, this will only begin the process of breaking down the oil that has adhered to the wood.

Let the mineral spirits sit for a few minutes, and then wipe them away using a fresh clean rag. Next, you'll want to combine a cup of fuller's earth with about half a cup of cleaning detergent to make a paste.

Apply the paste in a thin, flat layer over the oil stain, and let it sit for at least fifteen minutes. The fuller's earth should break down the oil compounds that are still sitting on your hardwood. Once the paste has dried and sat for a while, you can simply scrape it away using a plastic putty knife (avoid metal tools, which can damage the wood underneath).

Next, just use a mixture of warm water and detergent to wipe down the area and leave your hardwood flooring gleaming as good as new.