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Stains on light colored wood furniture can mar the beauty and damage the finish. In many cases even the highest quality of light wood furniture will darken with age or use as well. Although most people believe when this happens that nothing can be done just short of refinishing the piece or having it professionally redone, it is a simple matter to remove stains or spots and lighten darkened wood yourself.

Most stains can be removed from light wood with liquid laundry bleach. Even wood finishing stains, ink and other marks will respond to this liquid. In order to remove a stain or spot you will need to strip any finish of the stained area. In most cases you will get better results if you completely strip any finish off the entire surface area before you start. This is because when you are treating a dark spot the area around the spot may end up appearing darker after the spot is removed. If the wood is unfinished you need only to apply the bleach, full strength, to the surface. Allow this to set for 20 minutes and during this time be sure the entire surface stays wet with bleach. To neutralize the bleach, clean the surface with a solution of 1\2 vinegar and 1\2 water. Wait four hours and if the stain still persists, re-bleach and neutralize the surface. When the stain has disappeared, allow the wood to dry for 24 hours before sanding and re-applying finish to the surface. If the wood is unfinished you simply need to allow the surface to dry.

If you are trying to lighten naturally dark wood you will need to purchase a two part commercial wood bleach. In most cases this can be purchased from a local hardware store or lumber yard. This type of preparation contains lye and hydrogen peroxide so they are very caustic. Work with these products in an area that is well ventilated and be sure to wear protective gloves. Follow the directions on the package closely to insure your wood will end up the desired color. In a case where you do not know how much you want to lighten the wood, test a spot in an area that will not show with the bleach. Make a note of how long you have left the bleach product on the spot in order to reach the desired color and then proceed with the surface of the wood.