How to Remove Lotion Oil from Finished Wood


Carolyn asked: How do I remove oil from lotion from finished wood? There are streaks and areas on my wooden desk, and a bench that is partly cloudy. I can’t seem to get them clean. I believe that the marks come from hand lotion that was applied shortly before touching the wood. I may my own cleaning agents at home. The multipurpose mixture of water, white vinegar, borax and a mild dish soap. The wood cleaner is diluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. Neither of them are working to remove the streaks. Any ideas? Thanks so much!

Lotion stains can be surprisingly difficult to remove from all types of surfaces, including wood. Cleaning them will take a bit of elbow grease, but with a good effort, you should see results with this method.

You Will Need:

  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Bowl
  • Clean cloths
  • Cool water
  • Wax or furniture polish

Steps to Remove the Stain:

  1. Add a good amount of dish soap to hot water in a bowl. Agitate the water until you’ve created a large amount of suds.
  2. Dip one clean cloth in the suds (not the water).
  3. Use the cloth to scrub the suds into the wood.
  4. Wipe clean with a second cloth moistened with cool water.
  5. Repeat as necessary.
  6. When the stain has been completely lifted from the wood, dry it thoroughly.
  7. Apply a wax or polish to protect the finish.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • On some wood finishes where the lotion stain is relatively new, you can try laying a piece of blotting paper over the stain. Heat the spot with a warm iron for just a few seconds at a time to avoid scorching the wood. Repeat as necessary.
  • Avoid using abrasive cleansers. They may damage the surface or finish of the wood.


  1. My problem started when my glass that I had on top of my dark wood table broke, I noticed that there were shiny spots from where the little circular disks were under the glass. I used table top wax paste, but now I cannot seem to buff it out enough. There are streaks and I cannot seem to get rid of them. I really don’t want to have to use a table cloth, it is such a gorgeous table! Please help. I can send pictures if you need to see. Thank you.
    Someone told me to use mineral spirits to clean the table, I always thought mineral spirits will ruin the finish.

  2. From almost 60 years of use, the areas around the drawer pulls on my dresser are shiny — probably from natural skin oil. How do I clean these areas safely?
    The dresser is still beautiful. I want to save it from looking 60 years old!

  3. I just bought a beautiful wood dining table. It is getting dull and stained all around the edge of the table where our arms/hands touch the wood. I cannot get the smudges out and hate to use a table cloth and hide the wood. What can I use to get these smudges off?!

  4. I have a new coffee table and end table that has a few shiny burned-ish spots on them that are driving me crazy. How do I remove them without damaging the tables? I believe they are surfaces stains. Please help.

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