How to Remove Newspaper Stains on Wood

Things You'll Need

  • Scrubbing sponge, nonabrasive

  • Bucket of hot water

  • ¼ cup Murphy’s oil soap

  • Electric handheld sander

  • Fine-grit sandpaper

  • Stain

  • Soft cloths

  • Polyurethane

  • Soft bristle or foam paintbrush

Newspapers are printed using ink. When a newspaper gets left on a wood surface, the ink can be transferred onto the wood and stain it. Likewise, when there are newspapers on wood and they get wet the ink will transfer to the wood, staining it sometimes permanently. Washing the wood surface alone may save your wood. If the stains won't wash away, you will have to refinish the surface. Don't replace the wooden item. Sand and stain the surface your self for far less cost than what you'd have to pay someone to do it for you, or for the price of replacing the item.

Step 1

Try to wash off the stains with soap and water. Mix a bucket of hot water with a ¼ cup of Murphy's oil soap and gently scrub the wood using a nonabrasive scrubbing sponge. Scrub the stained spot well, but also scrub the rest of the surface to avoid leaving a clean spot. Do not scrub too hard. Rough scrubbing will result in scratch marks and wearing away of the wood's finish.

Step 2

Allow the wood to dry thoroughly, then examine it. If there are still newspaper stains, you will need to sand and refinish it. When the wood is still wet it will be hard to tell if the stains have been removed or not. You can only be certain when the wood is dry. Wet wood is darker than dry wood, and as the wood dries the stains may become visible.

Step 3

Sand the entire surface using an electric handheld sander and fine-grit sandpaper. Take the wood object outside or to your workshop to sand it so that the dust is not released into your home. Sand off the newspaper-stained finish. Sand down to the bright, bare wood.

Step 4

Apply stain using a soft, dry cloth. Once applied use a fresh, soft, dry cloth to remove all of the excess stain on the surface. If you want the color to be richer or darker, apply a second coat of stain. Promptly remove all excess. Repeat until you achieve the desired color.

Step 5

Apply polyurethane to the entire surface using a soft bristle or foam paintbrush. Do not shake or vigorously stir the poly before using. Air bubbles will result and will be apparent on the surface. If air bubbles occur, lightly sand them off and apply another coat of polyurethane. A second coat should be applied either way, and lightly sanding it will help the second coat stick to the first.


Scrub in a circular motion applying slight, not hard, pressure.


Wear a mask when sanding, and use care and caution.