If you’re like me and you always manage to make a mess, I feel your pain. As a furniture refinisher and painter, I am always making a mess one way or another. Whether it’s paint, glue, dirt, grease, or wood stain, I manage to make a mess of it. However, I like to make sure I clean up my major messes, and one day I made a pretty big spill. I was staining some wood furniture and I accidentally kicked the can over causing the wood stain to spill all over my concrete garage floor. So I decided to make a guide on how to remove wood stain from concrete.
In short, to remove wood stain spilled on concrete you need to determine whether or not your wood stain is oil-based or water-based wood stain. If oil-based wood stain is spilled on concrete you can use mineral spirits and a rag to clean it up. If water-based wood stain is spilled, you can use water and dish soap.
Of course, it sounds pretty simple, right? Well, that’s because it is if you get to it quickly. If the stain dries then you may want to try another method which I mention below. But first, let’s break down the method to follow when you just spilled the can of wood stain because let’s face it you’re probably freaking out right now.
How to Clean Oil-Based Wood Stain from Concrete
Since you just spilled the wood stain you need to get to work, so let’s get started.
1. Soak Up the Oil-Based Wood Stain
Before trying anything, try soaking up the puddle of wood stain with an old rag or towel. The less the amount of pooled stain on the floor the better. This may take a couple of rags, or an old t-shirt, but keep in mind the rag used is going to end up in the garbage unless you want to bag it up in a Ziploc bag and toss it in the fridge to try and use later on.
Throw the rag over the stain as if you were tossing a bedsheet over your bed. Open it wide and toss it over the top. This helps make sure you cover as much of the stain at once. Soak it into the rags and wipe as much stain up as possible.
2. Apply Mineral Spirits
Since you spilled oil-based wood stain you can’t use water to clean it up, I like to use mineral spirits but you can also use Denatured Alcohol or paint thinners. Each option will work with oil-based wood stains.
The reason you want to use one of these products is to help lift the stain from the concrete. If I make a mistake when staining furniture, or I add too much gel stain, I apply a small amount of mineral spirits to clean rag and begin wiping. The mineral spirits almost re-activates the stain and you can wipe it up.
I decided to do this when I spilled my oil-based wood stain. First I opened my garage door because mineral spirits and thinners are toxic, I then poured the mineral spirits directly on the spilled wood stain. I used my rag and wiped the mineral spirits into the stained concrete floor and you should start to see the stain lift from the concrete.
Mineral spirits are known to evaporate rapidly, so after a few minutes of wiping you may notice the mineral spirits kinda dissapearing. No problem, if the stain is still visible just repeat the steps using a clean rag. After 2 or 3 applications your stain will be removed.
How to Clean Water-based Wood Stain from Concrete
Not that water-stained wood stain is any better or worse, that’s not the debate here, its the fact you can’t use mineral spirits and thinners to clean p water-based products. We follow the same steps as oil-based wood stain clean up but use soap and water.
1. Soak Up the Water-Based Wood Stain
Just as we described for soaking up oil-based stains we want to grab a couple of old rags and soak up as much wood stain. Throw the rag over and soak and wipe, when you remove as much as you can you can move onto the next step.
2. Mix Warm Water and Dish Soap
Grab a bowl or bucket and mix together warm/hot water and some dish soap. I like to use dawn dish soap because that stuff is known for its grease-cutting capabilities. Make sure the mixture has some suds, the soap helps here. Now pour some of the water/soap mixture onto the concrete and let it sit for 10 seconds.
3. Scrub the Spilled Area
If you have a scrub brush of some sort, like this one, make sure to take it out. If not, you can scrub using a clean rag instead. Begin scrubbing the suds into the spilled stain area, this should begin lifting the stain from the concrete surface. After a few minutes of scrubbing you can wipe up the water. Then repeat the process until the stain is no longer visible.
What to Do With Wood Stain that’s Been Sitting On Concrete?
Ok, maybe your stain isn’t coming out with the methods above or you didn’t notice you spilled stain on the concrete floor. Now its dried up, it may not have dried fully and its like sticky now. No worries, here is what needs to be done.
1. Scrap Up the Stain Gunk
I the stain was sitting in a pool it likely in need of removal. No problem, take a scraper or a putty knife and scrape up as much as you can throwing it in the garbage. Make sure to remove as much as possible.
You can try using the methods above to see if the sitting stain will lift, often it works fine without the need of the next step.
2. Try Applying Paint Stripper
Yup, I said paint stripper. This method is popular if you spill paint on concrete, so using it on wood stain can work too. Paint stripper or varnish stripper is a liquid solution that lifts stain and paint completely off the surface. It is designed for wood, but it can be effective on other surfaces such as concrete or metal.
How’s it done? Simply pour a semi-thick layer of stripper over the spilled stain area, let it sit for the recommended time on your particular stripper products container. If you can buy the 10-minute stripper do it, this will help if you need to do it a few times.
To pick up the stripper you can use a scraper to pick the gunk up to throw it into a disposal bin. If the stain is caked on good, you may need to do a second pass with the stripper.
3. Apply Mineral Spirits
Whether you used water or oil-based stain you can use mineral spirits to clean in the remaining stripper residue. Typically its needed because paint stripper makes a mess. Use a rag to wipe up the stripper residue and mineral spirits. After all this hard work you should have no more wood stain on your concrete surface.
What if Nothing Works to Remove the Stain?
If nothing is working you may want to consider covering the stain up.
I had a bare concrete floor in my garage and I always wanted to apply a concrete sealer or some concrete paint. I think covering the entire floor may be a good option to cover up that stain. I know it may be a bit expensive but a finished garage flooring does add value to your home!
I recommend taking a look at this Rust-oleum Garage Floor Coating kit on Amazon, it may be an option, and its pretty affordable if you ask me!