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How to Get Wood Stain Out of Clothes

Summertime is the perfect season for repairs to keep your house looking its best. Sanding and staining wooden surfaces of your home or deck is one way to give your house a quick touch-up. Unfortunately, wood stains can be tremendously difficult to get out of clothes if an accidental spill happens.

Wood stain can be removed from clothing if you act quickly. Use a product designed to break down paints or varnishes, such as acetone, mineral spirits, or turpentine. Acetone works best for water-based stains, while mineral spirits and turpentine work well on oil-based ones.

If you have accidentally gotten a wood stain on your clothing, don’t panic. In this article, I will walk you through how to get wood stain out of clothes quickly and easily. Keep reading to learn more about my five tried-and-true methods to save your outfits from this stubborn mess.

How to Get Wood Stain Out of Clothes

Can You Get Wood Stain Out of Clothes?

Wood stain is difficult to remove from clothes but can be done using the right methods. As its name implies, this product is meant to permanently alter the color of surfaces it is used on. It will certainly do the same to your clothing if left untreated.

The best products for getting wood stain out of clothing are ones commonly used to strip or thin paint. Acetone, turpentine, and mineral spirits are all used for this purpose and are your best opportunity to save stained clothes. These products are easy to find at many local hardware or craft stores.

Does Wood Stain Come Out of Clothes?

I’ll admit, wood stain is very difficult to treat when it gets on your clothing. Quick action using one of the methods below is your best bet for saving any fabric the stain comes into contact with. Even then, darker stains may still cling to your fabric.

Before you treat stained clothes, be sure to check the label on the wood stain to determine which of the many types of wood stain you are using. Each type will need to be treated differently, and certain methods will work better than others. Using the correct method is essential to lift wood stain out of clothes.

How to Get Wood Stain Out of Clothes: 5 Methods

You can use various methods to rid your clothes of wood stain. The best methods that will work are those that use products designed to strip or thin paint from surfaces in your home. I recommend acetone, mineral spirits, or turpentine as your best chances of getting large wood stains out of fabric.

1. Acetone

Acetone Stains ClothesAcetone is a solvent widely used to break down paints and varnishes, including wood stain. You have most likely encountered acetone in your day-to-day life as an ingredient in nail polish remover. It is also commonly found in commercial varnish removers and some paint strippers.

These properties are what help acetone remove wood stain from clothes. To use this method, pour a small amount of acetone onto the stain and carefully blot it. You can blot the stain using a towel soaked in acetone for a stronger effect.

You will need to blot the stain until it begins to fade from the clothing. After the stain has lightened or disappeared, wash the garment as you normally would. Be sure to check for any lingering discoloration before you put it in your dryer since the heat could set any stains in further.

This method works best on water-based wood stains, so check the label on your stain to see if this is the best method for your particular product. You’ll also want to keep in mind that acetone can bleach and damage fabric, especially synthetics, since they are plastic-based. Always test acetone in an inconspicuous place to see how it affects your garment before you pour it on a larger area.

2. Mineral Spirits

Sunnyside Corporation 803G1 Low Odor Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner, Cleaner and Degreaser, Gallon, 6 PackMineral spirits are petroleum-based products commonly used to thin or remove oil-based paints. It is also useful for removing wood stains and varnishes, which is why it is recommended for tackling wood stains on clothing. Mineral spirits are inexpensive and readily available at your local hardware store.

Mineral spirits are most effective on oil-based wood stains, which is perhaps the most common type of wood stain on the market. You’re most likely to encounter oil-based wood stain on outdoor surfaces since it is intended to help weatherproof any wood it is used on. Unfortunately, oil-based stains repel water which makes them hard to treat.

To use this method, dip a clean towel into the mineral spirits and use it to blot the wood stain. You’ll want to move from the outside of the stain towards the center as you blot to keep it from spreading to a larger area of the fabric. You can place a paper towel or napkin underneath the stain to absorb it as the mineral spirits lift it from the clothing.

Mineral spirits can discolor some fabrics, so be sure to test a small area before you tackle a large portion of the garment. Mineral spirits will also typically evaporate after 15-20 minutes, so there’s no need to allow the product to sit on your clothing for a long time.

After applying the mineral spirits and the stain has lightened, rinse the garment and wash it as you usually would. Just be sure that the stain is fully gone before you expose the fabric to the heat of your dryer. Too much heat can cause the stain to permanently adhere to the fibers of your clothing.

3. Turpentine

KLEAN-STRIP QGT69 paint thinner, 1-Quart, 32 Fl Oz Cleans & Thins Art PaintsWhile mineral spirits are the best at tackling oil-based wood stain, turpentine is a close second and works well to save stained clothing. Specifically, turpentine is a solvent that helps to break down stains from paint and varnishes. The product is primarily derived from living pine trees.

To use turpentine:

  1. Place a stack of paper towels or another absorbent material underneath the stain.
  2. Carefully dab the stain with turpentine and allow it to sit until the stain begins to lift and absorb into the paper towels.
  3. Apply a small amount of laundry detergent to the stain and rub it in.

After the stain has lightened, wash the clothes as you normally would in your washing machine. Check to see if the stain has lifted fully before drying the garment. If it has not, repeat the process as needed.

Turpentine works well on wet and dried stains, making it a good option if you don’t notice the issue immediately. It can fade certain fabrics, so take care to test it in an inconspicuous area before you apply it to the larger stain. Turpentine can have a strong odor, but this will disappear after washing the clothing.

4. Color-Safe Bleach

Borateem Non-Chlorine Color Safe Bleach, 17.5 lb Pail, 424 Loads (Count of 1 Pail)Color-safe bleach is a commonly used laundry product that lifts stains from any clothing color. While it is not specifically intended to break down wood stain, it can be used on clothes that have come into contact with it. This method is recommended for smaller stains, especially those that come from lightly brushing up against wet wood stains.

To use this method, wash the clothes immediately in warm water with ¾ cup of color-safe bleach. After the wash cycle is finished, check the garment to see if the stain has been fully lifted. You can repeat this method as necessary, as long as you have not dried the clothing in your dryer.

You can also apply a small amount of the color-safe bleach directly to the spot before you add the clothing to the washer. This will help to better target the stain and give an added boost to the stain-remover. Put the garment into a wash cycle within ten minutes of applying the bleach to avoid drying or discoloring the fabric.

5. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing AlcoholRubbing alcohol is another product that can be useful for treating small surface stains. It is generally safer on clothing than pure acetone, mineral spirits, and turpentine can be. However, it can cause mild fading and damage, so you should always test the fabric in a place that will not be noticeable before proceeding.

To use rubbing alcohol on the wood stain, apply it to a clean towel or cotton ball. Begin dabbing the stain, carefully working from the outside to the center to avoid spreading it. You should see the stain begin to lighten as the rubbing alcohol begins to work.

Rubbing alcohol often contains, among other things, a small amount of acetone, which makes it useful on wood stain. Because of this, rubbing alcohol will work better on water-based wood stain than oil-based products. It is gentle enough to repeat this process multiple times on most fabrics without causing significant damage.

How to Remove Specific Wood Stain From Clothes:

Remove water based wood Stain From Clothes

There are many different types of wood stain on the market. You’ll want to vary how you wash these stains based on which type of product you have come into contact with. Look at the product label or use the context clues described below to properly identify which type of stain you are dealing with.


Water-based wood stain uses water as the foundation of its colors, as the name implies. It is a very fast drying product, meaning that stains on your clothing will need to be treated quickly to have the best chance of lifting. Even then, the water base of this product does make it one of the easier stains to clean, especially when compared to oil-based alternatives.

You’ll want to use acetone to lift the water-based stain from your clothes. For smaller stains, you may be able to use rubbing alcohol since it often contains small amounts of acetone. Water-based stains may lighten with regular laundry detergents if that is all you have available.

You can identify whether a product is water-based or not by looking at its label. Many water-based stains leave a softer color on the wood they are applied to, which can also be a clue to indicate the type of stain you are dealing with. Water-based products are also typically used for interior projects, so you won’t encounter them outdoors if you accidentally brush up against treated wood.


Oil-based stain is what most people use when staining wood since it will stand up well to water and other elements that could wear natural surfaces. This means that oil-based stain will resist being cleaned since it naturally repels water.

Specifically, most oil-based stain is made with linseed oil. This oil is what seals wood and repels water and is what makes these stains hard to treat. However, it also allows these stains to dry slower than water-based products, giving you more time to act before the stain sets into your fabrics.

To remove oil-based wood stain, you’ll need to use a product that can break down the oil base. Mineral spirits tend to work best, with turpentine coming in a close second. These stains will not react well to being placed straight into a wash cycle, as the water will not be able to fully penetrate the area.

You can identify if your stain is oil-based by reading its product label. However, if you don’t have this information, it is best to assume that the stain is oil-based and treat it as such. If you encounter a wood stain that is particularly dark in color or has been applied outdoors, you can also generally assume it is an oil-based stain.

Gel Wood Stain

Gel wood stain is an interesting product that falls between a traditional oil-based stain and paint. Because of this, you will want to treat stains from gel products much like you would oil-based stains. Mineral spirits, in particular, are recommended for tackling gel stains on the fabric.

One important thing to note with gel wood stain is that this product is very thick and if spilled on clothing, will leave a lot of residues. You may need to carefully scrape off any excess gel stain on top of the fabric before applying the mineral spirits. Try not to spread the gel stain as you work, or else you could make it worse than it was to begin.

Once you’ve removed the excess, treat the stain the same way you would an oil-based one by dabbing on mineral spirits. Then, you can wash the clothes as you normally would with regular laundry detergent.

How to Remove Dried Wood Stain From Clothes

Ideally, you should try to tackle wood stain while it is still wet. This will give you the best chance of removing it from your clothes. However, if the wood stain has dried, there are steps you can take to save the fabric.

To begin, use the back of a blunt knife or another metal tool to scrape away any excess stain that is dried on the surface of the fabric. You’ll want to avoid using anything sharp that could tear the fabric as you work. Then you’ll need to apply a cleaning product to the stain.

Turpentine can better remove dried wood stain from clothes than acetone or mineral spirits. The product will soften the stain enough that it should be able to lift it from the clothes. If you don’t have turpentine available, mineral spirits are the next best option.

Remember that once dried, it can be very difficult to remove wood stain from clothes. The longer you allow the stain to sit, the harder it will be to treat. Work quickly to prevent further damage to your fabrics.

Will Vinegar Remove Wood Stain From Clothes?

Vinegar is a common household product that is very effective at treating a wide range of stains. It can be used on some wood stains, and is moderately effective at removing these blemishes. However, washing clothes with vinegar isn’t a guaranteed fix as it may not be powerful enough to tackle some varieties of wood stain.

Vinegar will work best on fresh wood stains that are relatively small in size. To use this method, blot the stain with white vinegar until it lightens significantly. Then, soak the garment in a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts warm water for an hour.

After your garment has soaked, wash it as you normally would with regular laundry detergent. Be sure to check that the stain is fully removed before you dry the garment in your dryer. Heat can cause stains to set in and become permanent.

Even then, vinegar may only help to lighten the stain. You can, however, repeat this process multiple times if the stain doesn’t disappear enough on the first try. In the end, you may still need to use one of the other methods listed above to remove the wood stain from your clothing.


Wood stain adds a gorgeous finish to the surfaces of your home but can be a huge problem if it gets on your clothing. If this happens, don’t panic. Simply keep this article handy and use it to identify and tackle any wood stain you may encounter.