How to Remove Grease Stains from Wooden Furniture


Lynn asked: How do I remove grease grime from a varnished dining table? We have a solid mahogany dining table which I am trying to clean. I have tried hot water and a cloth, but it is leaving a patchy finish where grease has built up over the years. Can you please help as I seem to have made more of a mess than if I had left it.

Waxes from polishing compounds and grease from kitchen cooking can lead to a build up on furniture that can seem next to impossible to remove. Grease stains are one of the toughest stains to remove from wooden furniture pieces. It requires persistence and some elbow grease to remove it. If the stains are old and difficult to remove, be prepared to refinish the table as most removal methods will also remove some of the finish.

You Will Need:

  • Soft cloth
  • Iron

Steps to Remove the Stain:

  1. Preheat the iron to a low setting with NO steam.
  2. Cover the area with the soft cloth.
  3. Place the iron over the stained area for 5-10 seconds. The heat will melt the grease and transfer it to the cloth.
  4. Move to a clean section of the cloth and repeat until the stain is gone.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Severe stains require repeated applications and/or harsh chemicals for removal. Removing these tough stains may also remove some of the finish, requiring a new finish to be put on the piece after the stains are removed.
  • Mineral spirits can be poured onto the stain, followed with talcum powder, sawdust or other material to soak up the grease as it becomes loose. Again, this will eat through the finish and will require a new finish when complete.


  1. This is a life saver! I was just about to sand and refinish an entire table before I came across this. Ten minutes and it’s as good as new!

  2. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. I tried and made it worse.

  3. With the above two comments, what is one to decide? Thanks for the confusion.

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