Gail asked: How do I clean unfinished wood? I think it’s pine. Our dining room table has wine and food stains on it. I once used olive oil, but it did not remove the stains that well. It’s unfinished wood, so I’m not sure how to clean it and also protect the wood.
If you’ve had the misfortune of finding unwanted stains on your unfinished wood, you’ve learned firsthand why experts recommend a protective coat over wood surfaces. Whether you’ll ever be able to remove the stain depends on a couple of factors, namely, the type and condition of the wood and the kind of stain you’re dealing with, but under the best of circumstances many stains will be permanent. Still, you may improve or eradicate the stain by following these steps.
This process should only be used on solid wood. Wood veneer might be too thin to sand and you would risk sanding through the veneer to the plywood.
You Will Need:
- Fine grit sandpaper
Steps to Remove the Stain:
- Using fine grit sandpaper, lightly sand the surface.
- Pause frequently to wipe away the dust and check your progress.Also, ensure you are not sanding so much wood away that you leave a depression.
- Repeat until the stain is gone or until you start to wear away the wood.
- If the sanding is noticeable, lightly scuff the rest of the surface with the sandpaper so it matches.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Pine is a soft wood and quickly absorbs stains. Harder woods are more likely to only be stained at the surface, therefore increasing your chance of successful stain removal.
- If you get the stain out, consider finishing the wood with a clear protective finish. If you can’t get the stain out, consider applying a wood stain over the entire surface to “hide” the unwanted color.
- Oily food stains rarely come out of wood. However, one site user has reported having success at removing an oil stain from unfinished wood using hydrogen peroxide.
- Another option for removing oil stains is to cover the stain with a thick pile of absorbent powder, such as baking soda or cornstarch. Leave the powder for a few hours, then sweep it up. This can be repeated as many times as needed to fully remove the stain. One site user suggests applying a small amount of mineral spirits to the stain first, then covering with the powder.
- If the wood is just generally dirty, check out our guide How to Clean Unfinished Wood.