How To Easily Clean Oil Stains Off Your Precious Wood Floors

Picture it: You're in the kitchen making a dish you love, one that likely calls for cooking oil before anything else. While sautéing the first ingredient, a splash of oil falls from the pan onto the precious hardwood floors of your kitchen. The response is almost automatic — grab a paper towel, drench it in water, and aggressively wipe away at the splash of oil to ensure there's no stain left behind. But what if we told you there's a better way? Rather than a paper towel, consider grabbing a soft cloth, some mineral spirits, and soapy water to wipe away the oil stain and efficiently clean your wood.

Mineral spirits are an advanced type of paint thinner that's created from petroleum and capable of thinning and dissolving most ingredients. When oil-based stains dry atop wood, they begin to develop a sticky sap around the affected area, harden, and ultimately damage leveled flooring — to avoid this, applying a small dose of mineral spirits onto a soft cloth can help you dab off the cooking oil stain (and help you avoid future instances). With this household ingredient and our step-by-step guide, you'll be sure to efficiently get rid of stubborn oil stains.

Start by blotting the stain

The time between when you first spill the oil and when you clean it up is crucial. Immediately grab a rag or paper towel and blot the oily stain. Since oil spreads quickly, be sure not to wipe in vertical or horizontal motions — this will spread the oil even more, creating a bigger mess for you to clean up. Instead, small dabbing motions will be enough to lift the excess oil and leave you with a smaller problem to deal with.

Apply a dollop of mineral spirits to the cloth

After you dab away the excess oil, you'll have some time to grab a soft cloth for our next step. Apply a substantial amount of mineral spirits to the cloth and gently wipe it against the stain. While you can be more liberal than you were initially, use gentle strokes to ensure you're not allowing any oil or mineral spirits to permeate the wooden surface (especially on precious hardwood). Do this for several minutes until any remnants of oil have been lifted from the affected surface.

Follow up with some soapy water

Once you've tackled the brunt of your oil spill, it's time to use a bit of soapy water to mop up the floor. Believe it or not, using soapy water on hardwood floors is completely fine as long as you're not adding harsher ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice to the mix. Dip your mop or sponge into a bucket of soapy water, wring out any excess water, and absorb any remaining moisture from the floor. Spend a few minutes targeting the affected area before moving on to the final step: Drying.

Dry the wet surface with paper towels

Time to wrap up this unexpected cleaning project! Once you've washed away the oil stain, use a paper towel to absorb any of the extra moisture left behind from the mineral spirits and soapy water. You may benefit from using multiple paper towels to ensure each corner of the affected area is wiped away, blotting away at the floor until the surface is once again dry. If oil ever ends up on your precious hardwood floors again, you'll know what to do.