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How to Remove Paint Stains from Hardwood Floors: Top 5 Tips and Tricks

Paint set on hardwood floors
Posted on March 22, 2023 by fivestarwood

We’ve all been there. Maybe you just repainted your living room walls to make it feel a bit more cheerful, or maybe your kid got a little wild with their acrylic paint collection, and now you have a bunch of paint stains all over your beautiful hardwood floors.  

Luckily, this isn’t the end of the world, and you can likely get those stains out with a bit of elbow grease.  

Here’s how to remove paint stains from hardwood floors in 5 amazing ways.   

1: Paint Thinner

This is not the first thing you should try. If you do it wrong, you can damage your hardwood flooring beyond whatever the paint did to it. However, this is a very effective method, and when all else fails, it’s better than the next option we’ll give you.  

To do this one, you just need whatever brand of paint thinner you can find, a rag, and a bit of elbow grease. Make sure you open windows and doors to provide plenty of ventilation throughout the entire process.   

Start by dabbing a bit of paint thinner on the rag, and then scrub the paint-stained spot you’re trying to fix. Within a few moments, the paint should lift and scrub off with relative ease.  

The problem with this is that it will certainly ruin any protective stains or coatings on your flooring, and it’s highly corrosive to the wood itself. Make sure you clean off the paint thinner after you get the paint up.

As this method is highly damaging to the hardwood floor, be prepared to call wood flooring services to fix potential damages, as they can occur.

2: Sanding

Sanding is a last resort, but it is a valid option. The reason you don’t want to sand your flooring is that it removes material from the floor.

Not only does it remove any protective layers you have on it, but doing it enough will leave you with thin, worn-out flooring. Also, sanding in only the affected spot can create a distinct visual mark of where the paint was.


If you do need to sand, such as when the paint seeps into the hardwood, and thinner won’t work, start at a higher grit of paper and work your way down to a buffing pad to make the affected spot look as close to the rest of the floor as possible. If you fail to do so on your own, you’ll probably need hardwood floor refinishing contractors to rehabilitate the damaged area, so be careful when sanding.

Don’t forget to re-treat that area, regardless!

3: Dish Soap and Water

This is the most preferable method to use, and it should help with any paint as long as you take action quickly. Simply mix some warm water with dish soap designed to lift grease and other materials from dishes. Apply that mixture with a rag and scrub the floor clean.

This method loses effectiveness the more time passes and the stain sets. So, try to clean up the paint quickly.  

4: Commercial Paint Removers

This is like the paint thinner method, but it’s not nearly as harsh on your flooring. There are commercial cleaning products designed to remove paint stains and minimize the damage left behind. Look for brands that use natural acids and ingredients.

Those are less likely to damage your floors, and while they take a little longer, you won’t have to worry as much. Goo-Gone and other gentle paint removers are valid options, too.  

5: Alcohol and Lemons

This is an even gentler stain remover you can make at home with household ingredients. Mix three parts propyl alcohol with one part lemon juice, and apply that mixture with a rag. This will pick up water and oil-based paint stains, but it usually requires multiple applications if the stain is severe enough.