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Q: Oil spill on wood floor ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Oil spill on wood floor
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: vla1-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 30 Jan 2003 18:27 PST
Expires: 01 Mar 2003 18:27 PST
Question ID: 155482
We live in an old (1927) house with [what look to be] the original
wood floors.  They've been kept in good condition for a long time,
including a refinishing job by us a few years ago - tho, it included
only the *lightest* polyurethane coating over the natural wood.  This
coating is basically worn off now.

Recently, my wife (glad it wasn't me :)) set a container of motor oil
on the floor and later found that it had leaked.  She tried to clean
it a few times with water and Murphy's Oil Soap.  No luck. There's a
big yucky stain on the floor where this occured.

Aside from sanding the floor down (who knows how deep?), how can I
clean this up or at least get it really close to the prior condition?

Thanks - as always - for your help.
Subject: Re: Oil spill on wood floor
Answered By: leep-ga on 30 Jan 2003 18:56 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Greetings vla1!

Below I have listed some various suggestions from a number of sites:

"To remove oil stains from wood floors, wash the stained area with
mineral spirits. If that does not seem to be working, you could also
try using Naptha. Depending on the finish on the wood, you could also
use paint thinner, but I would recommend trying this on a non-visible
area first to ensure that it would not damage the finish."
"Oil Stain on Wood":

"Oil Stains: Remove as much as possible with newspaper, paper towels,
or a plastic spatula. ... On wood and cork, put a cloth saturated with
dry cleaning fluid on the stain for five minutes. Then wipe the area
dry and wash with detergent and water."
"Wood Floor Stain Removal":

"Oil and grease stains: First rub area with kitchen soap having a high
lye content or saturate cotton with hydrogen peroxide and place over
the stain. Then saturate a second layer of cotton with ammonia and
place over the first. Repeat until stain is removed. Let the area dry
and then hand buff."
"Caring for Wood Floors":

"Oil and grease stains: For waxed finish-Rub on a kitchen soap having
a high lye content, TSP (tri sodium phosphate) or saturate cotton with
hydrogen peroxide and place over stain; then saturate a second layer
of cotton with ammonia and place over the first. Repeat until the
stain is removed. NOTE: Ammonia may discolor the wood. For surface
finishes-Wipe up with mineral spirits or TSP (tri sodium phosphate).
Buff with clean pad or towel."
"Wood Floor Care Guide: Removing Stains":

"Do not use water solutions, or cleaners which have to be rinsed off
with water, on wood floors. Use a solvent or solvent-based cleaning
"Grease and Oil Stains on Hard Surface Floors":

I hope this information is helpful.  If you would like for me to
clarify any part of my answer or further research your question,
please let me know before issuing a rating.  If possible, please
indicate how long ago the oil leak happened and how big of a stain it
is.  Thanks!


some search strategies used:
"oil" "wood floors"  remove stain

Request for Answer Clarification by vla1-ga on 01 Feb 2003 08:48 PST
Thanks for the answer, leep.  To clarify, per your note - the incident
occured about 2-3 weeks ago.  The stain is approximately 8" x 5".

I see in the links that you provided that mineral spirits are a common
suggestion.  I will try this in an inconspicuous area; are mineral
spirits safe for old, unfinished floors?  Can't be any worse than
motor oil, I suppose.....

Clarification of Answer by leep-ga on 01 Feb 2003 14:39 PST
Greetings again vla1!

I inquired about this matter in the rec.woodworking newsgroup and
received the following information.  The posting does not yet appear
in Google Groups and so I can't provide a link to the text, but I have
copied the info below.

Unfortunately, since this happened 2-3 weeks ago some of the hints may
not apply since oil needs to be acted upon quickly:

"[Mineral spirits are] a solvent, and they're likely to make the
oil penetrate deeper.

Work as quickly as possible. Motor oil doesn't soak into wood well, so
a few days makes a big difference in the severity and permanence of
the stain.

Remove all the oil. Use some combination of newsprint, kitchen paper
towels and fuller's earth cat litter (the grey powdery stuff,
preferably finely ground) to absorb all the oil left on the surface. I
always keep a sack of the right sort of cat litter in the workshop.

Now wet a paper towel with a _little_ white spirit (mineral spirits)
and wipe up what else you can. This is an attempt to remove oil that's
in the surface, but not deeply absorbed by the wood.  You do not want
to apply any more solvent to the wood itself than you can possibly

Now take a scraper (a freshly broken piece of glass is good) and
remove the finish on the wood and a thin surface layer of the wood
itself. This is an easy step, and whether it works or not depends more
on the finish beforehand and your luck, than it does on the skill of
the worker. Removing 1/4" thickness ought to remove most stains, but
that's obviously excessive !  How much you actually take off is a
matter for the severity of the stain and the flatness of the surface.
You may wish to repeat the paper towel treatment, but don't get the
timber wet !

Once you've removed all you can, allow it to dry. Then judge it, not
while it's still wet.

Now you've abandoned cleaning and you're into camouflage. Depending on
the colour of the oil and the timber, you might flood the area with
white spirit to try and dilute the edge of the stain, or you might
treat the whole board of the floor with something like tung oil, or a
commercial finishing oil. A stain is obvious. A single darker board or
tile usually looks much less so.

For refinishing a floor, the only stuff I'll use is Rustins floor
coat, an acid-cure formaldehyde. Quick to apply, quick to re-coat,
extemely hard-wearing and stinks disgustingly when working with it (I
wear a full-face respirator)"

I hope this additional information has been of some help.  If I
receive more info on this matter I will post it.

vla1-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
The additional info is discouraging, but likely reality :(  But, your
research was good and timely.  Thanks.

There are no comments at this time.

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