How to Remove Wood Stain From Skin

How to Remove Wood Stain From Skin – Erasing Wood Stain on Skin

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If you are an avid DIYer or a professional woodworker, you will be accustomed to how annoying it is when you get something sticky and staining on your hands. Luckily, if you manage to spill some wood stain on the skin of your arms, hands, feet, or any part of your body that was not covered by clothing, we will guide you through the process of how to remove wood stain from skin. So rest assured, if you are in a hurry for a meeting with the boss, or you might have a date later tonight, this article will cover the safest method to remove wood stains from skin.



Types of Wood Stains

A wood stain is quite a messy substance to work with, and no matter how hard you try to keep your clumsiness at bay, your efforts can only do so much, and it is likely that you will end up spilling some stain on your skin. There is no need at all for you to worry, however, as there will always be a way to get the substance off without causing damage to one of your most precious organs. Firstly, you must be aware of the type of wood stain you were working with so that you know what method to use in removing it.

Types of Wood Stain on Skin

Luckily, most wood stains use a natural formula, usually with ingredients that are based on water or oil. However, natural ingredients are not the problem – the issue of how to clean wood stain off hands lies in the extra ingredients in the concoction. Indeed, it is the resins, binders, and pigments that act as dyes that are the root of the stain on your skin.

Fortunately, it is far easier to remove wood stain from your skin than it is to remove it once it has landed on the wooden surface. If you know what kind of wood stain you were working with, it will be a cinch to get it off your skin.

Here is a list of the different types of wood stains available on the market.


Iron Oxide Wood Stain

Iron oxide-based wood stains are perfect for use on wooden surfaces that are mostly outdoors. This is one of the most popular wood stain products available, composed of oxidized metal and iron oxide. General Finishes offers an excellent iron oxide-based wood finish.

When trying to remove wood stain from skin, you must first determine the intensity of the pH level of the wood stain you are working with. Generally, wood stains with iron oxide as a base have a pH level of 6.0. Thus, if you get some on your skin, you just need to use white vinegar (which has a pH level of 2.5) and the wood stain will come off. This is particularly handy as it is generally something found in most households.


Tannic Acid Wood Stain

Other than iron oxide wood stains, which are primarily for exterior use, tannic acid is another great choice, perfect for interior use as well as exterior. Tannin, taken from the bark of a tree, is the pigment in this wood stain. You can find tannic acid wood stains in powdered forms, like this one, but generally, they are found as a water-based formula. Tannic acid wood stains have a pH level of 6.5, so if you rub some whiskey over the stain, it might come off. This works because the whiskey has a pH level of 4.5, which makes it mildly acidic.


How to Test the Type of Stain

In order to work out what your best method for removing the wood stain from your skin is, you need to work out what type of wood stain you are dealing with. We have a simple, three-step test for you to do that will make your investigation short and simple.

  • The first step is easy: Drop a small amount of water over the wood stained area.
  • If the water sinks into the skin, the wood stain is water-based. This means that using a water-based acid will be your best stain remover in this case.
  • If the water does not absorb into your skin, the wood stain was oil-based, and you will need to apply an oil-based acid to remove the stain.

If the wood stain was an oil-based stain, you will need to use stronger products that have a higher pH level. The more acidic the acid is, the better the chances of it removing the wood stain.

Spilled Wood Stain on Skin



How to Clean Wood Stain off Hands

In terms of how to clean wood stain off hands, you can use a chemical-based cleaning solution or a natural one. A chemical solution will get the stain off faster, but it will potentially be more harmful. On the other hand, a natural cleaning solution might struggle to remove it as well as the chemical-based one, but it will be safer to use. Below are some examples of both chemical and natural cleaning solutions for wood stain on skin.


Chemical Cleaning SolutionsNatural Cleaning Solutions
  • 80% denatured alcohol
  • 80% acetone
  • Citric acid
  • White vinegar
  • Turpentine
  • Mineral spirits (Can be used for both oil- and water-based stains)
  • Vegetable oil


Natural Stain Remover

If you are someone with particularly sensitive skin, you might prefer to use natural cleaning solutions. Or perhaps you are sensitive to the needs of the environment. Either way, we have listed a few of the advantages and disadvantages of using natural cleaning solutions when removing wood stains from your skin.


  • Found in most households
  • Affordable
  • Harmless


  • Take longer to remove the stain
  • More effort is needed

Cleaning Wood Stain on Skin


Using Vegetable Oil to Remove Oil-Based Stains

Vegetable oil works wonders when trying to remove wood stains from your skin that are made by an oil-based wood stain. This is a much less abrasive method, making it great for sensitive skin. Read further to find out how to use vegetable oil as a wood stain remover.

  • The first step is to dip a cloth, or a rag, into some vegetable oil, drenching it nicely.
  • Now, vigorously rub the cloth over the wood-stained area until the stain is gone.
  • Next, rinse off your hands and then wash them with water and soap.


Using Vinegar to Remove Water-Based Stains

Where vegetable oil works best for wood stains that are water-based, vinegar is one of the most effective natural remedies in removing stains made by water-based wood stains. To find out how to use it, keep reading.

  • The first step is to get some ordinary white vinegar and rub it over the wood stained area.
  • Then use some steel wool or a scrubbing brush with hard bristles and scrub the stain in circular motions.
  • Finally, rinse off the vinegar and then immediately add some vegetable oil. Rub this in with circular motions using a softer sponge to get the stain off your skin.


Using Citric Acid to Remove Water-Based Stains

Citrus is a great option for cleaning and it can be found in most supermarkets, hardware stores, or general home-improvement stores. Citric acid comes in a powdered form and only has a few simple steps to use as a cleaning method.

  • The first step is to make a paste with the citric acid. Do this by mixing half a teaspoon of water with one whole teaspoon of citric acid.
  • Apply the paste to the stained area.
  • Scrub the paste of the stain on your skin for a few minutes and then wash it off with water and soap.


Chemical Skin Stain Remover

If you are lucky enough to have skin that is a little bit hardier and that can handle chemical-based solutions to clean off the wood stain, then you will be in for an easier job that takes half the amount of time. Make sure that the solvent’s base is aligned with your skin’s base; ultimately, this means that you need an oil-based cleaning solvent for an oil-based wood stain and water-based cleaning agent for a water-based wood stain.

The key to the chemical solvent’s effectiveness is the level of its pH – if it is not higher than that of the wood stain, then you will struggle to get it off.


  • Faster removal process
  • Not many other materials are needed
  • Effective stain remover
  • No extra sand or salt needed to scrub off the stain


  • Flame-prone
  • Irritating to sensitive skin
  • May need to take precautions to care for skin after the cleaning process
  • More expensive
  • Toxic

Wood Stain on Skin


Using Acetone to Remove Water-Based Stains

Nail art lover? Then you will be familiar with acetone, which is also known as nail polish remover. This is a chemical cleaning solution that is water-based and it is one of the less harmful chemical cleaning solutions. You must work fast with this solvent because it tends to evaporate into the air quite quickly. Read further for instructions on how to use acetone to get wood stain off skin.

  • The first step is to make sure that there is sufficient acetone on the cloth you are using – it evaporates quickly so pour more than you think is necessary.
  • The second step is to rub the cloth in circular movements over the stained area until the stain is gone.


Using Denatured Alcohol to Remove Water-Based Stains

If you are wondering how to remove wood stain from skin using denatured alcohol, just know that it is probably the least harmful or hazardous chemical cleaning solution. Follow the same instructions given for using acetone to remove the wood stain.

  • Dip a cloth into the denatured alcohol and ensure that the cloth is saturated well so that the alcohol does not evaporate too quickly.
  • Then, rub the cloth in circular movements over the stained area until the stain is gone.


Using Turpentine to Remove Oil-Based Stains

This is a chemical cleaning solution that has a natural origin. It comes from the resin of a tree and is much less hazardous to our skin’s sensitivities. Also known as turps, it is a highly effective solvent in removing wood stain and varnish off your hands

  • The first step is to dip a cloth into the turpentine solution.
  • Now rub the turpentine-infused cloth in long sweeping movements from left to right (as opposed to rubbing the cloth in circular movements).
  • Then wash off the turps with water and soap.


Using Mineral Spirits to Remove Oil-Based Stains

If you are looking for a fast oil-based wood stain remover that gets the job done, mineral spirits are your best bet. It is, however, the most toxic and may cause your skin to feel like it is burning and overall generally sensitive. This means that it should only be used as a last resort.

  • First, dip a cloth into the mineral spirits, soaking it generously.
  • Second, use long and sweeping motions to rub the cloth from left to right. You will do this instead of the usual circular movements.
  • Finally, wash off the mineral spirits with soap and water as soon as the stain begins to loosen.


Stain Absorber

Sometimes a stain absorber is used to remove wood stains from your skin. Examples of these are things like peat moss, clay, gypsum, and topsoil. After being made into a paste, these substances are infused with the stains and they start to lift it off your skin, absorbing the pigment into the mixture. If you so wish, you can always add a chemical cleaning solution, as mentioned above, to the mix. This will strengthen the stain removal properties of the method.

How to Get Wood Stain off Skin


How to Remove Wood Stain From Skin Using the Brush Method

In terms of how to get wood stain off skin using a brush, here is a suggestion from us. Before you start the process of removing the stain, a good idea would be to loosen up the pigments with some warm water and soap. Give your hands a good scrubbing down before you start, ensuring tht you have a thorough scrubbing brush like a piece of steel wool or one with hard bristles.

Wood stain will be in need of a good scrubbing to better break through the stain to the skin, so use circular motions.

As soon as you feel that your skin is feeling sensitive under the scrubbing brush, it is time for your acid stain remover solution to be applied. Rub it on gently until the stain has dissipated. If you prefer, you can use a softer brush for this part. A kitchen sponge or even a loofah are good options.



How to Get Wood Stain off Skin Safely

The aim of the game is to remove the wood stain without taking your skin with you – we want to keep your skin intact. Typically, you will already know if you have sensitive skin and if you must avoid using the chemical-based cleaning solutions and stick to the natural ones.

If you are feeling gung-ho and would like to use chemicals for faster removal, first test the chemical on a small area of your skin and wash it off quickly. If you feel that it is burning, you might want to stick with the natural solutions. Keep a bowl of fresh water or make sure that you are near a water faucet for an immediate rinse-off in case you start to feel the burn.

How to Clean Wood Stain off Hands


Tips and Tricks for Wood Stain on Skin Removal

Whether you chose the natural route or the chemical route, we have listed a few good tips for you to read before you start the process of removing wood stain from your hands.

  • Before you apply any of the cleaning solutions, natural or chemical-based, you must be sure to scrub down the stained area. A good amount of exfoliation will help to lift the pigments from your skin.
  • If your scrubbing brush does not do the trick, you can always add some beach sand to the bristles, which will increase the level of scrubbing, causing the stain to lift in no time.

Make sure that you are working with an oil-based cleaning solution if the wood stain is oil-based, and vice versa for water-based stains.

  • If the stain you are working with is also from a varnish, you can rub some peanut butter over it and massage it in rounded movements for at least one minute.
  • Mineral spirits is a multi-purpose cleaning solution. It is effective in removing water- and oil-based stains, varnishes, and more. It is highly corrosive, however, so you should only use it if you are desperate.


How to Prevent Getting Wood Stain on Skin

Prevention is better than…? Well, we all know how it goes. There would not be the issue of a stain if you took some precautionary steps to prevent the stain from happening. We have, for your benefit, listed a few suggestions that you can attempt the next time you are working with wood stains and varnishes to avoid staining your skin.

  • Protective gloves 
  • Shirt with long sleeves or a protective jacket
  • Pants with long legs down to the ankle
  • Safety eye-mask
  • Respiratory mask in case of fumes from chemical solvents
  • Protective smock

Preventing Wood Stain on Skin

Protective gear is not the only preventative measure you can take – there are a number of others. One of them is lathering any skin that is at risk of being stained, like your hands, with an oil or a moisturizer. This will stop the stain from sticking too intensely and staining the sin.

Another suggestion would be in terms of how much excess wood stain drips from your brush after you dip it into the can when painting. The preventative method would be to only dip the brush into the stain a quarter of the way. Make sure that there are no drips before you move it over to the wooden surface you are staining.



Frequently Asked Questions


Is Wood Stain on Skin Permanent?

No wood stain is permanent. Your skin will eventually regenerate its cells and fresh skin will appear, so no matter how intense the wood stain is, it will always come off – eventually.


Any Long-term Health Issues To Worry About with Wood Stain on Skin?

It depends on how often you spill wood stain on your skin. If you are an occasional DIY worker and you get wood stain on your skin only once in a while, you should not have to worry about long-term health issues. If, however, you are working with wood stain every day and it spills often, you will need to keep an eye on your skin and see how it feels in case of any issues.


Will a Good Scrubbing Brush Prevent Wood Stains on Skin?

A scrubbing brush will help to loosen a stain that is already on your skin, but protective gear like a pair of gloves and a long-sleeved shirt will do better at preventing stains.


Are There Wood Stains That Do Not Stain Your Skin?

If you are looking for a wood stain that leaves less of an impact on your skin, use a naturally pigmented wood stain. Walnut oil, tung oil, linseed oil, coffee powder, and tobacco powder are all good options to try out.


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