Black stains where some of the nails were

Q: I removed the carpet from our stairs. Some nails from the carpet strips must have been wet a time or two, because there are black stains where some of the nails were. It looks like rust to me. How can I remove these stains? Or at least lighten them? I thought that Clorox may work, but some say that this will darken the stain.

The Fe will react with the Cl and form FeCl3. CLR (The household cleaner) does not recommend any use with wood. I looked at OxiClean and there was no information there. CARBONA has a product that is targeted for rust, but it is only available over the Internet. Any suggestions? What about something as simple as vinegar or baking soda?

A: Household bleach isn’t near strong enough to remove stains in wood. Try to scrape or sand them out. The treads will have to be completely sanded and finished.

Similar Q: I am redoing my oak hardwood floors and there are black marks from staples used to staple down the carpet pad. How do I get rid of these black marks?

A: If they won’t sand out and you feel they are too much of an eye sore, you could use a fine nail set and depress them below the surface, then fill the depression with a wood filler that will be less visible.