How to Remove Grease from Wood [In 3 Easy Steps]

If oil or grease drips on wood, it is quickly absorbed and leaves ugly stains. Regardless of whether it is a stain on the wooden table, the floor or another piece of furniture: the trouble is big. But don’t worry, there are a few effective ways how to remove oil and grease from wood.

How to Remove Grease from Wood Step by Step

Material to use:

  • Cat litter
  • Blotting paper
  • Magnesium
  • Detergent

To remove the grease from wood, the first thing to do is to vacuum up the grease. This not only saves work, but also saves time in removing grease stains from the wood.

Grease stains on varnished or otherwise coated wood can usually be easily wiped off with a little washing-up liquid and warm water. Only if the wood is untreated, you have fresh grease or the grease penetrate deep into the wood grain. If so, do the following to remove the grease stain:

Step 1: Soak up the Grease

How to Remove Grease from Wood Step by Step

Paper towels: Due to their structure, paper towels are great for sucking up grease stains from the wood. To do this, simply place one or two layers of the paper towels on the fat. It is also advisable to wait a moment here so that the cloth can be completely absorbed. If a paper towel is not enough, you can of course add more to remove the coarsest grease.

Cat litter: Each of the cats knows how absorbent the cat litter is. The grease stains can also be removed from wood. A slightly finer cat litter is recommended in order to completely reach the surface of the fat. Here, too, you should wait a moment so that the litter has soaked up. If you don’t have cat litter in your household, you can also use sand as an alternative. Sand has the same properties as litter.

Blotting paper: Blotting paper has a similar structure to paper towels and can easily be used to remove grease stains from wood. To do this, put some blotting paper on the grease stains and wait a moment. The coarse grease stains on the wood can be easily removed. If it is dried old grease, place the blotting paper on the grease stain. Then run a heated iron over the wood surfaces. This makes the fat, liquid again and makes it easier to absorb using the blotting paper.

Step 2: Remove the remains of the grease stains from the wood 

Remove the remains of the grease stains from the wood

Detergent: Dish soap helps you in all areas of the household. Be it in the kitchen, in the bathroom or when fat splashes become too obvious. To remove grease stains from wood with washing-up liquid, do not use too much of it. A few drops are usually enough. So put the detergent on a wet sponge and scrub over the wood surface of the grease stain. You can also let the detergent take effect for a while and run the sponge over the grease surface again. Then the surface should be washed out with clear water.

Flour: Have you ever dropped your cell phone in water and then put it in the rice? The reason why rice dehydrates is as follows. In this method, the flour basically has the same effect as the rice. Flour effectively removes the grease stains from the wood. So that the variant is easy to use, sprinkle some flour over the grease stain. Then you can wait about two hours and let the flour soak in. Afterwards you can wipe away the flour with a wet cloth. If the grease stains have not yet been removed from the wood, you can repeat the method.

Magnesium: If you only have magnesium at home instead of flour, you can also use this. Magnesium also helps you to remove grease stains from wood, as it is very absorbent like flour.

Step 3: Protect the wood after you’ve removed the grease

Protect the wood after you've removed the grease

After the grease stain has been removed, the wood often needs extra care , which can be given with care oil or wax. 

To do this, simply smooth the surface with a fleece and treat it with a little wood oil or wood wax. After that, the wood is protected from moisture and dirt for around six months. 

If the wood is regularly treated with it, grease has a bad chance of penetrating the wood in the future. Attention: When buying wood oils and waxes, you should only use the products that are declared for the respective wood.

The most radical solution is also the best. Especially when the fat has already settled in the pores of the wood. Then we advise sanding the wood. This is a lot of work, but it also produces the best results. Namely, a beautiful and well-cared for wood, completely free of greasy stains.

Here is a step by step guide how to oil a wooden floor with the best tips and tricks !

In the following table you will see exactly which methods are effective for different types of wood:

Methods to Remove Grease from WoodEffectiveness on Different Types of Wood
1. Blotting PaperOlder wood
Solid wood
Teak Wood
Beech Wood
Natural wood
2. Baking PowderOlder wood
Garden furniture
3. Sand or Cat LitterOlder wood
Solid wood
Spruce Wood
Beech Wood
Natural wood
4. Detergent or Dish SoapOlder wood
Solid wood
Maple Wood
Hornbeam Wood
Natural wood

Do you know how to easily recognize teak furniture? If the answer is no, then this article will show you step by step how to do that!

Home remedies for removing grease stains from wood

These home remedies help to remove grease stains from wood:

  • Old grease stains
  • Fresh grease stains
  • Stubborn grease stains
Home remediesEffective AgainstHow to remove it from wood
FlourOld grease stainsPut on the grease stain, removes the grease.
MagnesiumFresh grease stainsGiving up magnesium removes the fat.
Dish soapFresh grease stains“Clean” the grease stains from the wood
Blotting paperOld and fresh grease stainsRemoves the fat, but can also be used with an iron.
Neutral soapFresh grease stainsDissolve in the water and sprinkle it on the grease stain.
Cat litterFresh grease stainsThe fresh grease stains are removed from the wood by giving up.

Want to remove linseed oil from your favorite furniture? I will show you how it is done in this article!

How to Remove Fresh Grease Stains from Wood

With fresh grease stains, the chances are that you will get them completely out of the wood. Here is our tip for removing fresh grease stains from wood:

1. Using Dish soap or neutral soap

This method is suitable for:

  • Older wood
  • Solid wood
  • Decking
  • Teak Wood
  • Spruce Wood
  • Beech Wood
  • Maple
  • Hornbeam
  • Natural wood

Simple and good: Fresh grease stains are best removed with water and a little washing-up liquid or soap.

  1. First remove grease stains with a dry cotton cloth
  2. Then dip a fresh cotton cloth in the cleaning solution and wash out the stain. 
  3. As a rule, the grease dissolving power of these two cleaning agents is sufficient to completely remove the grease stain. 
  4. If necessary, wipe the wood dry with kitchen paper.

How to Remove Old Grease Stains from Wood

Getting old grease stains out of the wood completely is difficult. Therefore we put the best, but also the most radical solution at the beginning of this list.

1.Sanding down

  • This solution is suitable for: all types of wood
  • Best solution for: lacquered wood

If nothing helps, but you want to keep your beloved wooden table or expensive wooden floor, then it’s time to get on with the sandpaper! For small stains, a hand sanding block and fine sandpaper, which is used to sand in the direction of the wood grain, are sufficient.

See here the complete guide how to sandblast wood like a pro!

Sanding will damage the paint. You should also expect unevenness in the wood. This can be counteracted by sanding the entire wooden table or the entire parquet floor and then resealing it. Tools such as random orbit sanders, belt sanders or parquet sanding machines are used here. The full-surface application is the variant of choice if you want a perfect end result.

2. Using Citric Acid

This method is suitable for:

  • Older wood
  • Natural wood

Risky but good: with this solution, too, the grease stain is first moistened with a little hot water from the tap. Instead of the baking powder, however, you cover the stain with citric acid and let the citric acid-water mixture take effect for a while. After the exposure time, remove with a cloth and wipe dry.

Helpful TIP!
Caution: Citric acid has a bleaching effect and is therefore not suitable for sensitive types of wood.

3. Using Spirit, pure gasoline and acetone

This method is suitable for:

  • Older wood
  • Natural wood

The last solution: Put on household gloves and moisten a cloth with alcohol, benzine or acetone. Carefully dab / wipe over the stain with the wood grain.

Helpful TIP!
Warning: this solution is not suitable for varnished wood types. Spirit attacks the varnish layer on the wood.

If alcohol is used due to the stubbornness of the stain, the wood must be repainted / sealed after the treatment.

You can also remove dried glue from wood using alcohol by following this article I wrote!

Remove grease from wooden table

Grease stains are easier to remove from sealed wood than from untreated furniture. You should react particularly quickly to natural wood so that the stain does not penetrate deep into the grain.

Here are the steps to remove grease from wooden table:

  1. If the wood is coated or varnished, mix washing-up liquid with warm water. 
  2. Dip a lint-free cloth in the water and wipe the stain several times.
  3. On uncoated wood, take a piece of kitchen paper as quickly as possible, press it onto the stain and use it to suck up the fat.
  4. If the stain can still be seen afterwards, you will need an iron and blotting paper or a napkin. 
  5. Set the iron on the lowest setting, place the blotting paper on the stain and iron over it to lift up the grease.
  6. You can tackle particularly stubborn stains with a mixture of white spirit and flour. 
  7. Mix the two ingredients together to form a thick paste. 
  8. Apply the mixture to the stain and let it work for at least 15 minutes. 
  9. Then remove the remains with a clean cloth. Repeat the process if necessary.

Permanent marker stains are hard to remove from wooden tables but if you follow the steps presented in this post you will succeed in removing the permanent marker from wood!

What to do if the grease stains cannot be removed from the wood?

If the grease stains don’t come off the wood, there are only a few methods that can help to get rid of the stains. Alternatively, you can also sand the wood. However, the question arises as to how deep the fat has seeped through the wood.

Another method would be painting the wood. So you not only remove the grease stain, but also have freshly painted wood afterwards.

If this is not an option for you, you can also oil the wood as an alternative . This not only gives the wood a certain shine, but also removes the grease stain.


After successfully removing stains, think about whether you want to prevent such mishaps in the future and varnish or otherwise treat your wood so that it is resistant to stains.

Follow any of the above methods and you can easily remove grease from wood!

Adrian Tapu

Adrian is a seasoned woodworking with over 15 years of experience. He helps both beginners and professionals expand their skills in areas like furniture making, cabinetry, wood joints, tools and techniques. Through his popular blog, Adrian shares woodworking tips, tutorials and plans related to topics such as wood identification, hand tools, power tools and finishing.

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