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Removing Stains and Discoloration on Wooden Work Surfaces

36 Responses to “Removing Stains and Discoloration on Wooden Work Surfaces”

  1. Hi, I went away for the weekend not realising my partner had left a carrier bag with spinach and lettuce in on the oak work surface .
    When I got back, there was a pool of black liquid that had seeped through the bag onto and into the surface. I have tried to clean it , sanded it down and while it; s a little better there’s still a nasty black stain about a foot radius. I suppose its worse because of the iron in the decomposed greenery. Do I just sand down more?
    Your advice will be appreciated

  2. Hi Chris,

    It sounds like you have taken the right course of action in tackling the stain, but you may find that the mark has seeped quite far into the timber if the surface was not protected by a suitable amount of Danish Oil (or another suitable wood worktop treatment).

    Though we would not recommend it for cleaning wooden worktops, a bleach solution could help to remove the stain, and indeed special wood bleaches are available for lightening timber surfaces. If you decide to go down this path, you will need to bleach the entire top surface to ensure the colour remains consistent. Afterwards, you will have to thoroughly clean and dry the surface before re-applying a protective treatment – such as oil.

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  3. Hi
    What’s the best way to remove a build up of cooking oil from the upstand behind the hob please? It’s oak and oiled.

  4. Hi Barbara,

    If there is only a small amount of oil build-up, we recommend using warm soapy water and a soft cloth to gently remove the oil. However, if there is a significant build-up of cooking oil, we suggest using a solution of warm water and lemon or vinegar to help tackle the grease. Once the deposit has been removed, gently sand the upstand with fine-grain sandpaper, and reapply Danish wood oil to protect the timber.

    Please get in touch if you have any further questions.

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  5. Hi i have removed a stain on our kitchen worktop but it has left a white mark. I have experienced this before and tried light sanding and re oiling but to no avail. What do you advise on this new stain?

  6. Hi Darren,

    Did you use a natural cleaner to remove the original stain? Aggressive chemicals and bleaches are not advised for natural wood surfaces. If whatever caused the original stain has soaked through, you may unfortunately not be able to remove the stain, even if the whole surface is sanded.

    If the area is badly stained and won’t come out with a light sanding, the entire worktop surface may have to be refinished. Once you have sanded down the affected area, sand the rest of the worktop to re-create a flat, even surface and then apply several coats of oil with sufficient drying in-between.

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  7. Hi please could you help. We’ve cleaned out oven by putting the trays in bags with cleaning solution and left them on the worktop overnight. We moved the bags and they have leaked leaving the wood severely stained black. How can we repair this? I’m worried if we sand it that it’ll be stained through the wood. Any help would be much appreciated many thanks in advance


  8. Hi I’ve stupidly used white spirit on my the end of my finger, through a cloth, to scrub away some paint stains and has affected the finish, please help! I can provide photos

  9. Hi Colin,

    To remedy white spirit stains it’s likely that you will need to give the surface a light sanding and then re-apply a suitable number of coats of oil or the finish already used.

    If you want to send your photos to us, we can provide more specific instructions.

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  10. Hi Victoria,

    We’re really sorry to hear about the incident involving your worktops. Unfortunately oven cleaner is really nasty stuff and it might prove quite difficult to get it out of the worktop.

    Your only hope is to sand back the entire surface of the worktop and hope that the oven cleaner hasn’t sunk in too much so as to stain more than the top few milimetres of timber.

    We recommend you follow the guidance in the “Removing Stains and Discolouration on Wooden Work Surfaces” information guide, and then re-finish the worktop with Danish oil.

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  11. Finishing plaster, not wiped up… has left my teak -oiled wooden worktop looking wet. Presumably a similar coloured stain to the wood. Does this need a sand and re-oil?

  12. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your message. I’m sorry to hear your worktop has been affected by the plaster. It sounds like the finishing plaster has reacted with the oil, so you will need to sand the surrounding area and re-oil. Depending how much you need to sand back, it may be best to give the entire surface a light sanding to ensure you achieve an even finish when you re-oil them.

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  13. Hi,

    I’ve re-oiled some oak worktops recently which had several stains. I sanded out the stains then gave all the worktops a light sanding. The poblem is two of the areas that were stained now look a lot lighter than the rest of the worktops! Any advice please? Would placing a cloth/plate etc. over the stained areas for a few weeks darken them because of lack of daylight?

  14. Hi David,

    I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues with a stained worktop. It sounds like you were following the correct procedure for removing a stain, but as you have found out, the timber will have matured in colour quicker on the surface quicker than any exposed timber underneath.

    If you cover the new area, it won’t be exposed to the UV in sunlight, meaning it will stay lighter, so won’t help the area to darken. Our suggestion would be to give the entire surface a light sanding and then re-oil it. This will ensure the surface is even and will be a uniform colour once the oil has dried fully.

    You can find out more information about oiling your worktop in the following guide:

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  15. Hi

    I have sanded back an oak work top and finished it off with wire wool.i have then wiped down Somehow I have ended up with wire wool flecks in the grain of the oak and now have little black specks everywhere. I think I will have to sand down the worktop but don’t want to make the situation worse. Can you please advise ?

  16. Hi Dan,

    Unfortunately – as you have found out – wire wool isn’t ideal for finishing wood worktops as tiny pieces of the metal can get snagged in the grain of the timber. Unfortunately you will have to sand down the surface to remove these flecks, then finish the surface with a treatment of your choice – we recommend Rustins Danish Oil.

    To achieve a perfectly smooth finish, use increasingly fine grades of sandpaper, starting off at between 120 – 150 grit.

    You can find out more more information about sanding wooden worktops in the following guide:

    Kind regards,
    Ben @ Worktop Express

  17. My beech worktop has been scrubbed too hard and worn away the stained finish. How can I bring the worn patches back to life?

  18. Hi Claudia,
    It may be possible to retreat the worn patches to match them up to the rest of the worktop, but depending on the level of wear, it may be difficult to get right. We would suggest that initially, the worn patches are sanded very lightly, then re-treated (with the number of coats to match the number of coats on the rest of the worktop) to protect them and blend them in with the rest of the surface. If this doesn’t work, the entire work surface may need to be sanded and treated again.

    We always recommend that our wooden work surfaces are cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft cloth, as chemical cleansers can be abrasive and remove the finish of your worktop. This should avoid further damage.

    Kind regards,
    Stephanie @ Worktop Express

  19. Hi

    I’ve got some rings, and a ‘droplet’ mark on my oak worktop which I think are from distilled vinegar. How can I get them out? Thanks.

  20. Hi Ros,

    The process for removing any stains is much the same, and for removing vinegar we would recommend following the recommendations in our “Removing Stains and Discolouration on Wooden Work Surfaces” information guide.

    Vinegar can be quite acidic, so it is likely you will need to sand down the affected area and apply a new coating of oil (or whatever treatment you have used on the surface).

    Kind regards,

    Ben @ Worktop Express.

  21. Hi
    I have iroko worktop in my kitchen, 15 years old now. I has acquired a number of stains that I’d like to get rid of & which haven’t gone with the usual sanding/re-oiling process. They are are lightening ring type mark caused when either the washing up or laundry detergent bottle has been left on the wood by mistake. You can also feel a very shallow indentation in the surface as if it’s stripped through the oil layer.
    I do re-oil every 6 months but this hasn’t helped.
    Is it possible to strip all of the wooden surface back to it’s base and re-oil as if from new?
    Or is that too drastic?

  22. Hi Julian,

    Thank you for getting in touch – we are sorry to hear you are having difficulties in removing stains from your iroko worktops. If the usual sanding and re-oiling process has not been successful, you will need to give the worktop a more thorough sanding to get it back to raw wood. Once you have done this, you will be able to start the oiling process from scratch – it does sound like you have had plenty of practice, but our wooden worktop oiling guide has been written for your reference, should you need it.

    We hope that you are able to get rid of the staining on your iroko worktops – but, if you do need to replace them, we have a wide selection of iroko surfaces.

    Kind regards,
    Stephanie @ Worktop Express

  23. Hello
    I have sanded and bleached out a large nasty stain on our pine worktop. I have got it all out but now have a large very light patch which after multiple oilings looks as though it will never catch up colour wise to match the rest of the worktop.
    Is there anything I can do to speed up the natural colour change so that the area is not so obvious?
    Would and ultraviolet light help?
    Also does there come a point at which pine stops darkening?
    Thank you in anticipation

  24. Hello Susan,

    Sorry to hear that you have not managed to get rid of the light patch on your pine worktop, even following multiple coatings of oil. We would suggest that the whole worktop is sanded right down to the raw timber so you can start again and build up the layers of oil evenly. As the surface has been bleached, you may not be able to get rid of the area that appears lighter than the rest of the top which could mean the worktop will need to be replaced.

    We hope you are able to get your worktop all back to the same colour.

    Kind regards,
    Stephanie @ Worktop Express.

  25. I sanded out a couple of black stains on the beech worktop, and have since reoiled. Strangely the areas will not seem to match up and any oil added seems to soak in rather than dry on the surface meaning it’s a matt patch rather than glossy finish like the rest of the surface…any ideas as to how to get this to match in rather than have obvious patches…?

  26. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for your query.

    Are you using the same oil that was used originally to finish the surface? Most oils dry to a matt finish, rather than the glossy finish you describe. Perhaps it was originally lacquered, varnished or treated with a plastic coating finish that is different to your oil.

    If you are sure it is the same treatment, it may be simply that you need to apply further coats, or alternatively sand a larger area before treatment to ensure consistency.

    Kind regards,

    Ben @ Worktop Express

  27. Hello,

    I’ve recently noticed two black stains on our new wooden work surfaces – one an oak end cut butchers block and another part of a wooden unit. They were finished with Briwax. The stains are definitely not from water or a burn but seem to stem from some sort of reaction to something on a pot of some sort, as they are circular. We are not sure which pot and nothing reckless has been done, but they are there and will not be removed… Is it a chemical reaction? Any advice?

    Many thanks, Scott

  28. Hello Scott,

    Whilst we do not have any experience with Briwax, your suggestion that it is a chemical reaction of some description is entirely plausible. It looks as though Briwax is designed for use on furniture where it will not come into contact with moisture, heat, or water spillages, as it is a natural wax, so this could be where the issue has arisen.

    Our Quality Standards Manager has suggested that you may be best removing the Briwax completely by giving the entire worktop a light sanding, which should also remove the marks, although you may need to give these areas a more rigorous sanding to get rid of them completely. You will then need to treat the worktops, and we would suggest using Rustins Danish oil for this. We have written a number of guides regarding worktop treatment and maintenance and our Nutshell Guide to Oiling Worktops can be found here: for a detailed overview of our recommendations.

    Kind regards,

    Stephanie @ Worktop Express.

  29. Hello and thanks for offering to help people like me with wooden worktop issues.

    My parents have thirty-year-old Kauri Pine worktops which they originally finished with polyurethane. Unfortunately they haven’t recoated them in that time. Next to the sink there are some patches where the poly has worn off and water has got in. These have turned black and look terrible.

    I have removed the worktop and plan to sand it back before refinishing but I suspect that sanding will not remove the black stains. Some suggestions I have found online include treating the stained area with bleach or oxalic acid or a lemon/salt combination. My main concern is that bleaching might over-lighten the area so it won’t match the rest of the wood (as per Susan’s problem above).

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Andy

  30. Hello Andy,

    Our recommendation would be to sand the pine back to the raw timber and then re-treat the worktop to match the remainder of the surface. As you have identified, application of bleach may cause a lighter patch on the worktops, resulting in an uneven colour. One of the issues with bleach is that it will penetrate the timber and continue to have an effect even after it has been washed away, so it is difficult to control the reaction it has with your surfaces.

    If you are unable to get rid of the black marks entirely, you may want to look at replacing the worktops. The best way to ensure the areas around a sink do not stain or mark is to keep them dry and treat them regularly. As an alternative, a different material could be used around the sink area to make it more low-maintenance.

    Kind Regards,

    Stephanie @ Worktop Express.

  31. Hi,

    My partner recently cleaned a patch of our worktop with a really abrasive sponge (no idea why he thought that would be a good idea!) and it has left a large dark mark on the side with some areas looking like they have been worn away. We’ve recently moved into this home so have no history of how the counter has been treated or maintained.

    Any ideas on how we can get this back to how it was?


  32. Hello Rachael,

    Sorry to hear that you have been left with a dark mark on your worktops!

    Sanding the timber should get rid of the marks – the amount of sanding needed will depend on how far the dark marks have penetrated the wood. Once the marks have been sanded away, we would usually advise applying several layers of the oil, wax or varnish originally used to match the rest of the worktop – without knowing how it has previously been treated, it may be difficult to get the entire surface looking uniform. You may need to sand the whole of the worktop before applying a treatment to protect them, to ensure an even look. We recommend using Rustins Danish oil as it is food safe and easily available nationwide, but there are other worktop oils available and it is possible to lacquer or varnish your wooden worktops too.

    Hopefully this will be sufficient to restore your kitchen surfaces to their former glory.

    Kind regards,

    Stephanie @ Worktop Express.

  33. Hi there,
    I have a wood countertop in the kitchen and unfortunately when I was a away for several weeks others in the house were leaving dishes to dry on a cloth beside the sink. This caused the counter to bow. The top side is concave and has cupped downwards at least an 1/8″ from the edge of the sink. The surface has also browned due to the sustained moisture. Are there any recommendations for these two issues? Fixing the concavity in particular is a concern. Thanks a ton in advance for any advise!


  34. Hello Matt,

    We are sorry to hear that your worktop has bowed and sustained some water damage – there are ways to fix both of these issues but in more severe circumstances the best course of action can be replacing the surface.

    For the water damage, you will need to sand the work surface down until this is no longer visible, then re-treat the sanded area to match the remainder of the worktop. You may need to build up several layers of the treatment used previously to ensure the area that you have retreated blends in with the rest of the surface. To correct the cupping, you will need to pull the worktop slowly and gently into place using clamps and battens – this can take a week or two and it is important not to rush as moving too fast can cause the timber to split. When the worktop is back in the correct position, secure it to the base units beneath it. Our guide to fixing cupped or bowed worktops contains more detailed information and may be useful to you when rectifying the bowing.

    Kind regards,

    Stephanie @ Worktop Express.

  35. Good morning

    My partner has managed to spill a ‘blob’ of carpet cleaner on our 9 month old oak worktops. The stain is almost blood like and seems to have penetrated the wood.

    It’s not a large stain but is quite obviously placed. We have diligently oiled with teak oil and have just moved onto Ronseal worktop oil. It’s only been treated with these oils since being installed.

    Is bleach the best option? I’m concerned a lot of sanding will be required if the stain has gone beyond the surface.

    Many thanks


  36. Hello Vicky,

    We are sorry to hear that your worktop has been stained! The stain may need a reasonably thorough sanding, but we would recommend this as a first course of action over bleach – due to the chemicals in it and the porous nature of the timber, bleach is also likely to penetrate the surface and you would likely end up with an obvious light patch on the worktop.

    The worktop may need to be sanded back to raw timber, depending on the level of discolouration that has occurred. Once the stain has been removed, the oak can be re-oiled – though it can be difficult to build up even layers to create a uniform finish. In this situation, you may need to sand the entire worktop down before re-coating with several layers of oil.

    If you are unable to remove the mark with sandpaper, a weak bleach solution may be a final resort – but, as previously mentioned, this may cause discolouration to the worktop, which may then need to be replaced.

    We hope this is enough to remove the stain and restore your worktop Vicky, please do get in touch if you require any further assistance.

    Kind regards,
    Stephanie @ Worktop Express

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