Janice asked: I left some gel window clings on my wood china cabinet and they have left stains. How can I remove them? The china cabinet is a blond-colored wood.
Dyes can appear on wood from a variety of things. The most common seems to be dye that transfers from streamers, confetti, and hair dye. No matter what the cause of the dye, the removal process remains the same. Always use caution and observe the finish on your wood piece regularly to ensure it is not being scrubbed away along with the dye. Avoid any corrosive or abrasive cleaners as they can cause more damage while removing the stains. Follow these steps to lift the dye without damaging the wood or the finish.
You Will Need:
- A cleaning product: (one or more of these)
- White vinegar or lemon juice
- Baking soda
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Hand sanitizer
- Hair spray
- Olive oil
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
- Soft cloths or sponge
- Spray bottle (optional)
- Rubber gloves (optional)
Steps to Remove the Dye Stain:
- Begin by inspecting the stain to determine how deep it goes. If it is mostly just on the surface, it will be much easier to remove than a stain that has absorbed into the wood.
- If the stain has dried and is just on the surface, first try wiping it away with a soft cloth and a mix of 1 part white vinegar or lemon juice and 2 parts water. Be persistant; most dye stains on a wood surface are what’s known as ‘loose dye’ (things such as dye or ink transfer from a wet piece of paper, a Kool-Aid spill, etc.) and they will come out fairly easily with some elbow grease. Don’t scrub, just rub, or you might remove the finish.
- If that does not remove the stain, or if it goes beyond the surface, it will take a bit more time and elbow grease to get it out.
- Begin by mixing baking soda with white vinegar or lemon juice to make a paste. It should be at least as thick as toothpaste.
- Spread the paste over the stained area and gently rub it with a sponge or your fingers.
- Spray the area with plain water, or white vinegar for an added cleaning boost.
- Wipe the area clean with a soft cloth.
- This may take several applications to remove the stain completely.
- If that doesn’t work, you may need to use stronger methods. Gently wipe off the stain using either isopropyl alcohol, hand sanitizer, or hair spray. All of these products are alcohol-based and will work very well for removing a dye stain. However, there is a good chance they will also leave a white mark on the table that you will need to remove by rubbing some olive oil or cooking oil into the area.
- As a last resort, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can probably get the dye off, but it could remove the finish as well so test it in a small hidden area first.
- When the stain is completely gone, wipe over the area with a clean cloth moistened with plain water to rinse away any residue from the cleaning products used.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- Darker wood finishes will require more caution as they can become lighter in color only to make the stained area stand out more. Always test a small hidden area on all pieces before proceeding with the stained area.
- Some dye stains can be easily lifted with insect repellent or spray on sunscreen. Simply spray the product on the stain and wipe with a clean cloth.
- SOS pads (with lemon preferred) can also be used. These pads can be very abrasive so use caution to rub lightly so the finish on the wood does not become damaged.
- Another option for removing the dye stain is rubbing alcohol. Moisten a cotton ball or cotton swab and gently rub it over the area. This works best on light stains, although it can dramatically lessen heavier stains.