My $8 Trick For Removing Dark Water Stains From Wood Floors Works Wonders

published Nov 22, 2023
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Credit: Lula Poggi

When you’re lucky enough to live in a home with original hardwood floors, you’re generally willing to make every effort to keep those precious floorboards in tip-top condition.

In my case, that means putting felt pads on all furniture legs to protect against dings and scratches, instituting a “no high heels in the house” policy to avoid any potential gouging, installing curtains and window blinds to block out UV rays, and using wood-safe products in my cleaning regimen.

So you can imagine the shock and horror that ensued when I overlooked one of the biggest offenders of wood floor damage: planter pots.

After transferring my prized black olive tree into a larger pot, I had assumed it was safe to place it on my living room floor, since it had a saucer to catch any drainage. Though it brought a lovely touch of greenery to my space, the tree didn’t seem to like its new spot, and I ended up moving the planter outdoors after a few weeks. And that’s when I saw it: a large black water stain glaring up at me from where the pot had once been. It turns out terracotta pots are not ideal for use on hardwood floors because they’re quite porous and moisture seeps out of them.

I immediately tried to scrub the area with a wood floor cleaner and thoroughly dried it, even blasting the spot with my hair dryer. But it was all for naught, as my efforts did nothing to lighten the stain. Thinking my floor was ruined, I defeatedly typed “dark water stain on wood floor” into my web browser, fully expecting to read that I’d need to patch that area with new floorboards. Much to my surprise, however, I found a multitude of methods that promised to solve my predicament. And I’m sharing the one that worked best for me. 

How I Removed the Stain

While a number of ingredients seemed promising, including a few strange ones like toothpaste and mayonnaise, I ultimately settled on using three percent hydrogen peroxide. I started by soaking a clean cloth in it so that it was fully saturated, and then dabbed the stain thoroughly. After letting the area air dry overnight, I checked the next morning and was delighted to see that it had lightened somewhat in color. 

However, since the stain was still fairly noticeable, I decided to repeat the process, this time leaving the hydrogen-peroxide-soaked cloth on top of the stain for 20 minutes. As the area began to dry, the stain started getting lighter and lighter. By the next morning, to my utter amazement, the stain was completely gone! And better yet, it couldn’t have been easier to remove it.

A Word of Caution

While hydrogen peroxide worked flawlessly in my situation, proceed with caution — it is a mild bleaching agent and could end up over-lightening your stain. In Wood Floor Business, Bob Goldstein, a wood floor professional, said, “You may be trading a dark stain for a light stain.” If that does end up happening, he recommends lightly sanding the area and applying a wood stain that’s as closely color-matched to the rest of the floor as possible. “Always clear-coat after applying tinted finish, so the color won’t ‘walk off’ during use,” he advises in the article.

Hydrogen peroxide works wonders on lightening dark water stains on wood floors, but you have to start slowly. Always start by dabbing on a small amount to see how the floor reacts, and then build from there with additional applications. Hopefully, this trick works wonders for your floor as it did mine.