How to Remove Old Furniture Stains


Old furniture stains are hard to remove because the stain has set for a long time. Many common household ingredients may not completely eradicate the stain, just lift the surface, leaving a darkened spot that makes furniture look ugly and worn. A number of cleaners--sprays, detergents and astringents such as rubbing alcohol and distilled vinegar--can be used if one doesn't do the job. Removing stains can restore and beautify old furniture, making it unnecessary to buy expensive new pieces.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective gloves
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Vinegar
  • All-purpose cleaning spray
  • Furniture cleaner
  • Wood cleaner
  • Color-safe bleach laundry detergent
  • Club soda
  • Salt
  • Rags
  • Towel
  • Put on protective gloves. For glue residue stains, which look white and flaky, dip a cotton ball into rubbing alcohol and dab the stain. For tough cosmetics stains, such as lipstick, pour a cap-full of vinegar onto a soft white cloth and pat the stain.

  • For food stains, which have discoloration and possibly an odor, use all-purpose cleaning spray or furniture cleaner. Make sure the furniture cleaner is appropriate for the surface to be cleaned; wood, leather, etc.

  • For an ink stain, dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and squeeze out the excess. Dab the stain and check the cotton to see whether it's lifting before applying more.

  • If the alcohol is ineffective, mix one part vinegar and two parts water and apply with a cotton ball. If the stain begins to lift, repeat with a clean cotton ball until the stain is gone.

  • For red wine stains, put club soda on a clean cloth and blot the spot. You may add salt to the club soda for an abrasive mixture that's still safe for most furniture.

  • For grease stains, mix one cap-full of color-safe bleach laundry detergent with two parts water.

  • Soak a clean rag in the detergent mixture. Wring the rag out and wipe the stain, repeating if necessary.

  • Wipe away any excess cleaning mixture with a clean rag and water. Dry with a clean towel.

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  • Photo Credit upholstered furniture. image by Yuri Bizgaimer from
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