There are a lot of wood furniture pieces in our homes – bookshelves, coffee tables, dining tables, dressers, flooring just to name a few.
One of the most common makeovers for that wood furniture is a new stain.
What do we do when we stain our wood furniture?
Step one is usually to remove it from the house, because who wants that stain mess all over the walls or floor?
Moving furniture to the garage or driveway for staining makes the most sense.
There’s a problem of stray wood stain blemishing the concrete.
Besides being a bit annoyed that you may have added a permanent color addition to your driveway, getting the stain out is actually possible.
So, want to know how to remove wood stain from a concrete driveway?
Read on and I’ll share some simple solutions for this very common problem!
What’s the Big Deal with Wood Stain and Concrete Anyway?
Staining furniture can be a fun, albeit messy, DIY wood furniture project.
It’s the perfect way to update and revive old furniture, or upcycle a rare find from a yard sale.
With stain being half of the phrase:
You can imagine it’s not something easily cleaned up or reversed if you change your mind.
The pigments in wood stain penetrate wood fibers, rather than sitting on top of the wood’s surface.
The nature of wood stain means it can easily stain other surfaces as well.
Is it permanent?
Not always, although when certain things get discolored by wood stain, it’s sometimes easier to cut your losses rather than spend resources trying to save it.
For example, that old shirt you wore while you stained a chair?
You’re facing an uphill battle restoring it to normal.
Hopefully, it wasn’t a sentimental shirt.
We can’t always just toss out or forget things that have been defiled by wood stain, however.
Like the driveway, walkway, or garage floor where you completed the staining project – replacing it to get rid of stains isn’t practical.
The unsightly stains can be annoying at best and lower the property value of your home, at worst.
It’s essential for you to keep your concrete clean, and you don’t want pesky stains hanging around.
There are two common scenarios when dealing with wood stain on concrete.
You used spray stain, and there’s a nice stencil of whatever furniture you stained gracing your concrete.
You used a liquid stain applied with a brush and spills, drips, and splatters occurred.
Even if you had a clumsy moment and tipped over an entire can of wood stain, the method I’ll cover below is the best bet for cleaning it up.
How to Remove Wood Stain from Concrete – The Steps
For Fresh Stains
How to get wood stain off concrete when it’s recent?
If you have just spilled the stain, you’re at an advantage – it’ll be easier to get ahead of the stain if you deal with it before it dries out.
Step 1 – Soak it Up
If you spill stain on your concrete, it’ll help if you can soak up as much as possible before it has a chance to dry or soak in.
Old rags, a mop, and even newspapers are helpful in blotting up the excess stain.
Concrete is more porous than you might guess, and it can drink up a lot of that wood stain liquid.
Absorbent substances like kitty litter can help draw out the last bit of stain.
You should pour enough to cover the area and let it sit overnight or at least twelve hours.
Step 2 – Sweep it Up
Time to get rid of the kitty litter.
I recommend simply using a broom and dustpan, as large amounts of kitty litter tend not to play well with most vacuums.
Step 3 – Wash it Up
Fresh stains can often be solved with simple dish detergent and some scrubbing on your part.
If the spill is fresh, it can’t hurt to try – it’s a little less complicated than trying to clean once things have dried.
You can use liquid dish detergent or even liquid laundry detergent in a pinch.
You’ll need a scrubbing brush and warm water for this step. This is typically when you’ll see the stain begin to disappear.
It can take a little time and effort spent scrubbing to kick the stain to the curb (or off of the curb), but small spills and fresh stains are often eliminated without treating it further.
Step 4 – Wipe and Spray
The lather from your detergent needs to be soaked up with newspapers or old rags.
Then, you can take the hose to the excess mess and wash everything away.
If you tackled the stain soon enough, your concrete should be good as new.
For Old and Dried Stains
How to get wood stain out of concrete when it’s an older spot?
You might be concerned it’s there for good, but there’s an option for these dried, stubborn stains.
You’ll need a particular type of bleach known as oxalic acid.
This is a very potent substance, and you’ll need to take precautions when using it.
Proper ventilation and skin protection are an absolute must.
You might already have a cleaner containing oxalic acid under your kitchen sink – Bar Keepers Friend – Buy Here.
If you have this on hand, I recommend giving it a chance before purchasing pure oxalic acid, which can be overkill.
Both oxalic acid and Bar Keeper’s Friend comes in powder form and will need water to activate it.
Wet the stained concrete, and sprinkle the Bar Keeper’s Friend on the spot – only a little is needed.
You’ll need to do a little bit of scrubbing, similar to the detergent method.
You can use a brush or other abrasive pad to distribute the product evenly over the stain.
Let it sit.
Bar Keeper’s Friend is primarily used on stainless steel, ceramics, and other kitchen surfaces.
Because of this, the instructions advise to rinse it off after a minute.
Concrete is a bit of a different story.
For this purpose, you can let it sit up to ten minutes before rinsing the concrete.
Rinse thoroughly, preferably with a hose or power washer.
Once the concrete has had a chance to dry, there should be no traces of stain left.
If there are minor remnants of the stain, you can repeat the process as needed.
Trying to work out how to get wood stain out of concrete is typically more work than some simple preventive measures.
While a DIY project like staining furniture can be rewarding, it can also be a lot of work.
You’ll need to choose your stain, purchase it and the needed tools, and perhaps most difficult of all, move a bulky piece of furniture outside.
If you’re willing to do all of that in the name of refurbishing a bookshelf, then do yourself a solid and add one more step:
Lay down drop cloths.
Plastic and canvas drop cloths are best to protect your concrete since wood stain can soak right through fabric and newspaper.
Old sheets or the Sunday paper are better than nothing if you can’t make a last-minute run to the store before tackling your DIY adventure.
If you’re using a spray wood stain, I recommend covering a wider radius than you think you need to.
Even in seemingly calm weather, the aerosol sprays can carry quite a way as a vapor.
If you cover four square feet of your driveway, you might find dried stain residue well outside of your protective coverings.
Another way to protect concrete from wood stains – and a variety of other stains and messes – is to have your concrete sealed.
Or, at the very least:
Do your wood staining project over concrete that has already been sealed, if at all possible.
How does the seal make a difference?
A seal creates a barrier between the actual concrete and the environment. The protective layer will prevent your concrete from absorbing paint, stain, and even pet messes.
It’s a much easier task to clean any mess off of sealed concrete versus unsealed.
Remember the Bar Keeper’s Friend mentioned earlier?
There are a lot of good reasons to keep it around other than wood stain removal.
So if you’re hesitant to try it on your concrete, know that it’ll come in handy on many other household issues.
You can use it on stains from rust, mold, and hard water; on nearly any surface that those types of stains can occur.
Bathrooms and kitchens are common areas you might find yourself using Bar Keeper’s Friend, but it can be useful in the entire house.
How Do I Know If I Need to Use Pure Oxalic Acid to Remove the Stain?
The success of the methods listed here depends on a lot of factors, but I usually recommend trying the gentler option first, save for a few situations.
If you are dealing with a very large stain – think tipped-over can of wood stain – then it’s probably worth it to bust out the heavy-duty option of oxalic acid.
Another scenario where oxalic acid is better is if you’re trying to clean up a workspace where multiple stains have occurred over a long period of time.
The Concrete I’m Cleaning Is in the Basement Where I Can’t Use a Hose. Now What?
Rinsing is an integral part of each method listed in this guide.
However, if a hose is not a viable option, that doesn’t mean you should overlook the rinsing step altogether.
In this situation:
A mop and bucket are the next best thing.
You would need to rinse the area thoroughly regardless if you used detergent or Bar Keeper’s Friend, so be prepared to change the water a few times.
The Wood Stain Got on My Concrete Foundation – Can I Use These Methods?
If you’re dealing with wood stain that’s on a vertical surface, it can present some challenges.
That doesn’t mean these methods can’t be tweaked to work for you, though.
The main issue you might encounter is allowing absorbent material like cat litter to sit on the stain isn’t an option when the stain is on a wall.
In this case:
Try to blot up as much of the stain as you can with paper towels or rags.
You can still use Bar Keeper’s friend on the spot by creating a thick paste with the powder and a little bit of warm water.
The paste should be thick enough you can smear it on the spot without it sliding off.
You should still wet the spot slightly before applying the cleaner.
Stain the Wood, Not the Driveway
Learning how to remove wood stain from concrete probably isn’t the hardest part of a DIY wood-staining project.
That award goes to trying to maneuver a heavy piece of wood furniture back up the stairs.
Having said that:
Avoiding stains on your concrete is better than dealing with a wood stain mess in your driveway, garage, or walkway.
You must protect any surfaces before staining wood, no matter where the project occurs.
If a stain does happen, don’t worry too much about it – there are ways of getting that stain out and getting your concrete back to normal.