How to Remove Water Stains from Oak

Considering how good it looks and how much you often pay for it, wanting to take care of your wood furniture only makes sense. Unfortunately, this beautiful furniture can often be damaged by nothing more than something as simple as water. While wiping it off right away is usually good enough to handle the problem, you can run into a lot of issues if water is left to sit on your wood furniture for too long.

Nothing ruins the look of beautiful wood furniture quite like a nasty water mark. While we all try our hardest to protect the surface, there just never seem to be enough coasters, are we right? sometimes we just don’t have enough coasters to place everyone’s drink upon. Luckily, you don’t have to live with the unsightly stain because How To Clean Stuff found a great way to remove water marks from wood… with a hair dryer.

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White Stains

For the most part, these stains come in one of two varieties: white and dark stains. Knowing the type of stain you’re dealing with is the first step you need to take toward actually dealing with it.

White stains occur when water penetrates the surface of the furniture—the finish—but not into the actual wood itself. These are the stains you get when someone leaves their glass on a wood table for too long without a coaster and condensation builds up.

Dark stains are the result of water penetrating the finish and actually making it to the wood itself. These are the types of stains you often get when a planter is left on a wood floor and begins leaking. After enough time, the moisture finally makes it to the wood below.

Hair dryers have also been know to be effective at removing white stains

Remove Water Marks on Wood Furniture with a Hair Dryer

Rebecca found this guy on her coffee table and thought the table was ruined. . . We used a blow dryer on high. We held it fairly close to the stain. Slowly it stared disappearing!

After about 20 minutes the stain was almost completely gone. We put a little olive oil on it to moisturize the wood.

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Removing White Stains

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get rid of as common a stain as the white kind. All it takes is a little mineral oil and a soft rag to begin working the stain out. Simply use the soft rag to apply the mineral oil to the stain and then let it sit like that overnight. It may take several applications, but eventually you’ll wake up one morning to a noticeably diminished stain.

If you don’t see any traction with this method, try mineral spirits instead. Once again, apply the liquid directly to the stain. Be sure you’re wearing gloves and handling this application in a well-ventilated room. Give it a few minutes before reapplying if necessary. Once the stain is gone, give the surface a new coat of furniture polish.

Otherwise, try mixing toothpaste with baking soda if these other two options aren’t doing it. Don’t use toothpaste gel, but otherwise the exact proportions you use really aren’t that important. Use that damp cloth again to rub the mixture into the grain until you don’t see the stain anymore. Then wash the area with oil soap. Follow with furniture wax.

Heloise Hints (from the Arizona Tribune) suggests to start by making a paste with equal amounts of baking soda and white non-gel toothpaste. Dampen a sponge or a clean, soft cloth with water and then dip it into the paste and work at the stain using a circular motion. Do a small area at a time until the stain is removed. It may require more than one application and lots of elbow grease! Once the stain has been removed, wipe with a soft, damp cloth and buff dry. Lastly, rub on some of your favorite furniture polish.

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Removing Dark Stains

To start, you’ll need to remove the finish on your furniture. Sandpaper will do the trick, just be sure to apply it along the grain of the wood. Then sand the stain itself using #150-grit sandpaper. Once the stain is gone, use tack cloth to remove any remaining dust.

When the surface is repaired, the final step is to add several light coats of varnish to it in order to match the original finish. End by waxing the wood with quality polish.

Another reliable method is to use bleach on a dark stain. This is the route to take if you can’t reach the stain without excessive amounts of sanding. Chlorine bleach and a brush are all you need, but be sure you’re wearing gloves when it’s applied. Let it sit for a few hours. Though it’s a slow process, you should finally see the stain faded into the wood’s original color.

After a few hours is up, just apply some water with a sponge in order to remove the bleach completely. This will remove any leftover bleach and keep the wood color from fading further. Then apply vinegar to neutralize any remaining bleach and finally a wood stain.

Tips from

  1. Rub the area with an oily furniture polish, mayonnaise, or petroleum jelly.

    The goal is to displace the water mark with the oil. If the stain disappears, good; skip to Step 6. If the stain is still there, try Step 2.

  2. Put a little toothpaste on a wet cloth and rub the stain gently until the spot disappears.

    Toothpaste sometimes contains a mild abrasive that will help get rid of the stain. If toothpaste does the job, skip to Step 6.

  3. If the stain is still there, mix equal amounts of baking soda and toothpaste together to make a slightly stronger, yet still mild, abrasive and rub that mixture on the stain.

    Depending on the size of the stain, 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of each should do the trick. Apply a little more pressure than you did in Step 2. If the stain is gone, go to Step 6; otherwise, proceed with Steps 4 and 5 for stubborn water marks.

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Tips from

  1. Spread about 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise on a paper towel.
  2. Place the paper towel on the white water mark. Press lightly.
  3. Leave the mayonnaise on the stain about 15 minutes.
  4. Lift the paper towel and check the stain. If the mark remains, rub more mayo into it again and check it later.
  5. Stain should be gone. Reapply if necessary.

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