Spot Cleaning Stains on Wood Floors

The Old House Web

This procedure includes guidance on removing dark spots, white marks, grease and oilstains, mold or mildew, and wax or chewing gum on wooden floors.

MATERIALS

NOTE: Chemical products are sometimes sold under a common name. This usually means that the substance is not as pure as the same chemical sold under its chemical name. The grade of purity of common name substances, however, is usually adequate for stain removal work, and these products should be purchased when available, as they tend to be less expensive.

Common names are indicated below by an asterisk (*).

A. Steel wool pads (Fine Grade 000)

B. Mineral spirits:

1. A petroleum distillate that is used especially as a paint or varnish thinner.

2. Other chemical or common names include Benzine* (not Benzene); Naphtha*; Petroleum spirits*; Solvent naphtha*.

3. Potential Hazards: TOXIC AND FLAMMABLE.

4. Safety Precautions:

a. AVOID REPEATED OR PROLONGED SKIN CONTACT.

b. ALWAYS wear rubber gloves when handling mineral spirits.

c. If any chemical is splashed onto the skin, wash immediately with soap and water.

5. Available from construction specialties distributor, hardware store, paint store, or printer's supply distributor.

C. Sealer

D. Solvent-based floor wax

E. Household vinegar:

1. Potential Hazards: CORROSIVE TO CONCRETE, STEEL, WOOD OR GLASS.

2. Available from grocery store or supermarket.

3. Vinegar contains about 4% acetic acid and may be suitable for some purposes requiring acetic acid.

F. Household bleach:

1. Other chemical or common names include Bleaching solution*; Laundry bleach*; Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl); Solution of chlorinated soda*.

2. Potential Hazards: CORROSIVE TO FLESH.

3. Available from chemical supply house, grocery store or supermarket, hardware store or janitorial supply distributor.

G. Oxalic acid (COOH)2 or (H2C2O4):

1. A poisonous strong acid that occurs in various plants as oxalates and is used especially as a bleaching or cleaning agent and in making dyes.

2. Other chemical or common names include Dibasic acid; Ethanedioic acid; Acid of sugar*.

3. Potential Hazards: TOXIC; CORROSIVE TO CONCRETE, STEEL, WOOD OR GLASS.

4. Available from chemical supply house, dry cleaning supply distributor, drugstore or pharmaceutical supply distributor, hardware store, or photographic supply distributor (not camera shop). (Often sold under a manufacturer's brand name; the chemical name may appear on the label.)

H. Paper towels and clean, soft cotton cloths

I. Plastic bags

J. Ice cubes

K. Clean, potable water

EQUIPMENT

A. Industrial-sized floor buffer

B. Plastic spatula

PREPARATION

A. Protection:

1. Carefully read manufacturer s instructions for any chemical to be used for cleaning. Follow recommendations for safety and handling as well as application.

2. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation when using solvents.

B. Surface Preparation: ALWAYS test selected method of cleaning on a small area first before beginning the actual job.

ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION

NOTE: USE CAUTION WHEN USING SCOURING POWDER AS IT CAN PERMANENTLY SCRATCH WOODFLOORS. DO NOT USE WATER-BASED CLEANING SOLUTIONS OR CLEANERS THAT REQUIRE RINSING WITHWATER. USE A SOLVENT OR SOLVENT-BASED CLEANING WAX.

A. For Dark Spots:

1. Rub area with steel wool and mineral spirits.

2. Then, wet a rag with household vinegar and apply to the stain. Allow to sit on dark spot for a few minutes.

3. Repeat this process if it seems to lighten the stain.

4. If the spot does not lighten, mix a 50/50 solution of household bleach and water and apply to the stain.

5. If the spot still does not lighten, then apply oxalic acid to the center of the spot. Avoid getting bleach on the surrounding wood. Several applications may be necessary.

6. When the spot has disappeared, neutralize the bleach with vinegar and allow to dry. Sand, stain and refinish to match the original color.

B. For White Water Marks:

1. White marks are usually a stain in the finish, not in the wood.

2. Rub the mark with very fine steel wool and apply paste wax.

C. For Grease and Oil Stains:

1. Blot stain with clean towels.

2. Saturate stain with dry cleaning fluid. Check appearance every few minutes.

D. For Mold or Mildew:

1. Wipe area with rag soaked in household bleach.

2. Provide adequate ventilation in future to eliminate damp, stagnant air conditions that can result in the growth of mold and mildew.

E. For Wax or Chewing Gum:

1. Put ice cubes in a plastic bag and place on top of the wax or chewing gum. Allow it to sit for a few minutes.

2. When the material has hardened, scrape it away with a plastic spatula and recoat the floor with floor polish.

ADJUSTING/CLEANING

A. Upon completion of stain removal, rinse the area thoroughly, and allow to dry. Repair any areas where finish has been removed.

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