How To Remove Water Stains From Wood (2 Bonus Tips Included)

how to remove water stains from wood

Watermarks damage the sheen of wood furniture like nothing else. Cold drinks, spills, or hot dishes placed directly on the wood often generate watermarks or water stains. Fortunately, they aren’t necessarily permanent.

If you are searching for some tips on how to remove water stains from unfinished wood. Spreading mayonnaise, using toothpaste, baking soda or a steel wood can do the job in a neat manner.

The first thing to note is that it does matter how small the stain is; it can still damage any wooden surface. Therefore carefully pay attention to the guidelines when removing stains and also be patient.

Read: How to tackle water spill on hardwood

How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

Spread Some Mayonnaise On The Stain

Using mayonnaise is one unique way to remove water stains from wood, and it’s most likely already in your refrigerator. Although mayonnaise has a few calories not good for our body, it’s safe for most wood. Mayonnaise’s oil can permeate into the wood and removing the moisture, thereby causing stains to fade or vanish.

For this method, you have to exercise the patient as removing stain from wood takes time to show its full effect.

Apply the mayonnaise to the water stain with a paper towel. Leave it there for some hours or overnight. Pick up a clean cloth the next day and wipe away the mayonnaise, then polish with vinegar. This is one of the most successful processes for removing water stains from wood.

Read: How to clean discolored linoleum floors

Vinegar And Olive Oil

Another method of removing water stains from wood is through the use of vinegar and olive oil. Get a small bowl and combine an equal amount of vinegar and olive oil.

Afterward, use a cloth to dab some of the mixtures to the stain. Then wipe it in the wood’s grain direction until there is no more stain. The content of this mixture has an effective role.

The vinegar removes the stain while the olive oil polishes the furniture. Finally, wipe the surface clean with a clean, dry towel.

Read: Is murphy’s oil soap bad for hardwood floors?


For this method of removing water stains from wood, lay a clean cloth over the mark. Next, warm up the iron at a shallow temperature. When the iron gets hot, place it on the material on the water stain for a few seconds. Then lift the iron and cloth to inspect the water stain.

If the stain persists, keep repeating it until the stain is gone. Again, cotton material with no print or color is preferable to avoid transferring any patterns to the wooden surface.

Keep in mind that this removal method is ideal for water stains that are still damp instead of old watermarks because of its ability to eliminate moisture content.

Hair Dryer

This method requires your hairdryer. Connect the device and set it to the highest possible setting. Position it at the stain and hold it there until the stain is gone. Remove the hair drier from the outlet.

Then polish the table with some furniture oil. If you don’t have any furniture oil, you can use olive oil. Also, this method is best for freshwater stains.

Baking Soda

Apply a paste made from one tablespoon baking soda and one teaspoon water on the stain. Then, using a soft cloth, gently rub the area. If the same problem persists, apply the extra paste and leave it to dry overnight. In the morning, wipe away the paste with a piece of cotton fabric.

Read: Easy homemade hardwood floor cleaner


Grab a white non-gel toothpaste and spread it over a clean piece of cloth. Use the material to apply the paste over the water stain and rub. Keep rubbing until all the stains are gone. Then, get a new piece of cloth and wipe the surface clean.

Steel Wool

Use steel wool to apply lemon oil over the stain in the grain’s direction. Do this gently and stay inside the boundaries of the stain or avoid damaging the finish. Use an adequate amount of lemon oil to prevent scratches from forming on the wood.

Instead of using standard household cleaner wool, use high-quality steel wool. You can get one from the home improvement store around.

Salt And Oil

Another method of removing water stains from wood is to combine salt and olive oil to form a paste. Carefully apply this paste to the surface and leave it there for 15-20 minutes.

Afterward, with a clean piece of cloth, remove the paste and polish the wood. You do not need a large amount of this paste, and you can use a teaspoon of salt and a little water to make it.

Read: can you use vegetable oil on hardwood floors

Ashes And Butter

Combine an equal volume of butter and cigarette ashes. Carefully apply it to the water stain with a piece of cloth and rub it in. Pick another clean cloth and remove the residue.

Petroleum Jelly

With a clean cloth, apply some petroleum jelly over the stain and let it stay there overnight. You can use your fingers to wipe it or remove the paste with a clean cloth the next day.

Read: What causes yellow stain on vinyl flooring

How To Remove Dark Water Stains From Wood

The most challenging form of stain to remove from wood floors and furniture is black water stains. When water seeps through the finish and into the wood, these stains appear. Cleaning these stains with a standard or wood bleach is the best option.

With Bleach

Firstly remove the wood finish. For antiques, this might be a bad idea as it reduces its market value. If this isn’t an issue, proceed with the instructions below:

  • Remove the finish from the wood piece by sanding it.
  • Rub regular bleach into the stain with a toothbrush or a paintbrush.
  • Leave the bleach on for about two hours to penetrate the floor.
  • Repeat the process and allow it to sit overnight.

Doing this process ensures the removal of water stains deep within the wood. As soon as you notice the stain is gone, you can refinish the wood.  Should the stain persist, wood bleach is the next available option.

Read: How to remove polyurethane from wood floor

With Wood Bleach

Wood bleach is the ideal choice to remove stubborn black water stains.

  • Remove the wood finish, then use a brush to apply mixed wood bleach on the wood.
  • Leave the wood bleach on the surface for four hours.
  • Use a sponge to apply a solution containing two parts water to one part vinegar to neutralize the wood bleach.

Read: How to fix laminate flooring water damage

With Toothpaste

Toothpaste, like white water stains, can be used to remove black stains. Use a white paste for this step. Apply it on the stain with a brush in the direction of the wood grain. Do this carefully and slowly to avoid removing the finish.

Read: How to fix laminate flooring water damage


It can be annoying to have your lovely wooden furniture or floors ruined by water. However, if you use one or more of the steps we’ve mentioned above, your wood will look brand new in no time! Removing water stains from wood has never been so much fun.

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