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Few things are more frustrating than a beautiful hardwood floor with an ugly stain in the middle of it. If your floor commonly falls victim to spills and accidents, learn how you can prevent and remove hardwood stains.
What Causes Stains in Your Hardwood?
Many homeowners assume that since hardwood is a smooth, slick surface, it cannot be stained. In truth, hardwood stains are almost as common as carpet stains, and they can occur thanks to any of the following items.
- Food and drink spills
- Pet urine
- Water spots
Fortunately, not every stain is permanent. In the case of a hardwood floor, stains fall into one of two categories.
1. White Stains
“White” stains typically affect only the surface of a hardwood floor. Gentle scrubbing or heat application removes a white stain quite easily.
2. Black Stains
“Black” stains usually require more effort on the part of the homeowner. Often, black stains develop where spills have been left unattended. The dye, water, or urine sink deep into the wood and stain far below the surface.
Tips for Preventing Hardwood Stains
The first step to removing hardwood stains is to avoid getting them in the first place. You can prevent stains from accumulating in your hardwood by employing these helpful tricks.
1. Avoid using a steam mop.
Steam mops, while a helpful tool for vinyl and tile flooring, leave a film of water on a floor’s surface. If not quickly dried, this film of water can seep into a hardwood floor, causing stains and other water damage over time.
2. Have your floor professionally sealed.
Whether you install your hardwood yourself or hire a professional to do it, it is always a good idea to have it professionally sealed. Hardwood sealant acts as a protective barrier between the floor and foreign substances. This prevents stains, scratches, and fading.
3. Clean your floor regularly.
It is a good idea to sweep, vacuum, and clean your hardwood several times a week. Use the proper cleaner, and make sure not to leave wet spots behind.
4. Never leave spills for another time.
If you are in a hurry, it can be tempting to leave a spill for later clean-up. However, if you want to avoid stains, always wash and dry spills as soon as they occur. Particularly with dyed substances and pet accidents, waiting can cause long-term damage.
How to Get Stains Out of Your Hardwood Floor
Even preventive maintenance fails occasionally, and if you live in a house for any length of time, you are bound to experience at least one flooring stain. In the event of a hardwood stain, don’t panic. Instead, determine what type of stain it is, then try one of the following stain removal processes.
1. Use vinegar, peroxide, and baking soda.
Mix one part white vinegar with one part warm water and gently scrub the stained area. You can also use a paste made from hydrogen peroxide and baking soda for the same effect.
Always test a small patch of flooring that’s out of sight before you apply any cleaners to make sure you aren’t bleaching or adding to the stain.
2. Bleach the wood.
If the stain is deeper than surface-level, try a reputable wood bleach. Wood bleach lightens stains until the color matches the natural hardwood again. When using wood bleach, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
3. Try heat removal.
To remove a surface stain, try laying a cotton cloth over the stain and running a hot iron over it. Be careful not to keep the iron on the cloth for too long.
4. Rub the stain with lemon oil.
A little bit of high-quality lemon oil goes a long way. Rub the oil into the floor to remove dark stains.
5. Sand and refinish your hardwood.
If the stain is too stubborn, you can always sand your flooring down and refinish it. Generally speaking, hardwood should be refinished every 10 years or so, so if it’s been a while, refinishing could be beneficial overall.
6. Replace individual sections.
Replacing your whole floor may be out of the question, but no one said you can’t replace a small section. If you aren’t comfortable replacing your flooring, call a professional for help.
Too Many Stains?
If your hardwood floor is old enough or stained enough, at-home remedies might fail you. It could be time to invest in replacement flooring.
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