Grease stain removal from bare wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Grease leaves a stain on wood that may be difficult if not impossible to remove with a simple sponge and soapy water solution. For major grease stains or minor grease stains, there are several methods that will bring you old wood back to life. Choose one that will allow the wood to retain most of its shape but is effective in removing all of the grease stain.


The most effective way to remove any major stain from wood is to sand the wood down past the depth to which the stain has penetrated. With grease, some staining will occur below the surface of the wood, especially if the grease has had time to work into the pores of the wood. To effectively sand clean your wood, use a high grit sand paper (usually 120- to 240-grit works best) and sand carefully, checking the wood surface often to see if the stain has been removed.

When sanding down wood, always use a vice to hold the wood piece in place. It will be more effective to use an orbital sander on larger grease stains. If the wood already has a fine finish, use a higher grit sand paper to match the finish like 320 grit. This will create a more uniform surface on the wood.

Alternative Natural Solutions

There are alternative natural cleaners that will extract grease stains from wood. Salt is one of them, wood chips, and sand are two others. To use salt, simply apply it to the area of the stain on the wood and allow it to sit there for several minutes absorbing the grease. Wood shavings and sand work in a similar manner. These remedies must be applied immediately in order to work effectively, so for older grease stains they are not your best option.

In addition to applying salt you may also find that sanding is still necessary to remove all evidence of the stain. If there are traces of grease remaining, attempt hand sanding to remove them.

Scrubbers and Brushes

You may find that scrubbing the wood with a stiff bristle brush or scrub pad removes some grease stains. If you being scrubbing the wood immediately after the stain occurs, a simple solution of water and soap may be all that is required to remove the stain. A scrubbing pad and sponge combination will be effective in lifting off some of the grease stain. In addition to this application, apply dry paper towels to the stain. This naturally lifts grease away. This method is more time consuming but it is the best method if you have to retain all of the original wood and are not able to sand the bare wood. Grease cutting cleaners safe for wood may also be used, however some grease cutters bleach or discolour wood. Apply them with caution.

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About the Author

Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.