How To Lighten Dark Stained Wood

How to Lighten Dark Stained Wood


You can lighten dark wooden furniture to suit your taste or to complement your interiors by applying a bleaching solution to wood. But how do you do this when your wood has a dark stain? This guide will show you how to lighten dark stained wood and how to get wood ready for bleaching using time-tested techniques.

Lighten dark-stained wood

Bleaching will lighten dark-stained wood. By using chemical bleaching solution, wood can become lighter and thus the grains are more pronounced. And since these are a chemical solution, be very careful that you don’t scratch the surface of the wood.

What you’ll need

  • Protective gear (gloves, goggles, and mask)
  • Varnish or stain remover
  • Bleaching solution
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Sandpaper 320 to 400 – grit
  • Finish
  • Rags


1) Prepare the area and the wood

Prepare The Area And The Wood


Wear protective gear to protect you from the chemicals used to bleach wood. Remove any dirt and grime from wood by washing it with regular dishwashing soap and water. You need to do this because the bleach won’t be able to work well when the wood surface is dirty.

Needless to say, you must work in a well –ventilated area or preferably outdoors because the chemical bleach used can create toxic gasses or fumes.

2) Remove old stain

Remove Old Stain


Now the old and dark stain will be removed by applying varnish or stain remover. Use a rag or brush to apply this product. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the product.

Let the varnish or stain remover settle on the area for about 5 minutes or depending on the instructions. Rinse the residue off with warm water.

You must dry wood for a day or more after using varnish or stain remover. Leave the wooden piece to a dry and ventilated area in your home for a day or two.

3) Using a two-part chemical system

Using A Two Part Chemical System 1


There are a variety of wood bleaching products in the market but the most effective and less toxic are bleach with a two-part chemical system. This type of bleach is known to be less aggressive to health and have the ability to alter the appearance of wood without will alter the appearance of wood without affecting the wood’s natural grain and character.

Use the chemical bleach according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, a package of wood bleaching product has two kinds of bleaches. Mix the two together using equal parts of the two bleaches. Mix these in a plastic container.

Dip a clean sponge in the solution to saturate the sponge. Apply the solution on wood and saturating the wood as well. Move slowly and steadily when applying bleach. Keep applying bleach until every millimeter of the surface is covered.

4) Neutralize with an acidic solution

Neutralize With An Acidic Solution


After applying bleach, neutralize it with a solution made with equal parts of white vinegar and water. Use a clean sponge to apply this to the surface of the wood.

Rinse the wood with water with a clean sponge. Repeat this until the water runs clear from the wood surface. Water will remove all the traces of bleach and vinegar from the wood.

The wood should be dried completely and not just dry to the touch. Check manufacturer’s instructions on the drying times for the product. Usually, you can find this from the label of the product.

5) Sanding wood

Sanding Wood


Sand the wood completely with grit 320 and 400 sandpaper. This sandpaper grade will smoothen out any rough surface and remove large and uneven grains in wood grains. Sanding will leave a lot of dust and residue from the wood so after sanding, wipe the area with a damp towel.

Use the vinegar and water mixture again to neutralize wood the second time. Rinse the surface again with water and dry the area completely. The wood will appear very light after it has undergone bleaching and neutralizing twice. It is time to apply the finish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply the brand of lighter finish you want to use.


You can lighten dark stained wooden furniture, flooring or wall by removing the old stain and by bleaching wood. The process may look painstaking but the rewards of having lovely lighter wood are definitely incomparable.