Removing Water Stains from a Wood Table

Water Stains on Wood and How to Remove Them.

How to Remove Water Stains from Wood

Water stains or hard water spots are caused by minerals and can be avoided completely by wiping your wood surfaces dry. (When they are still wet, of course!)

Of course, it’s too late for that now and there’s a white circular ring on your beautiful wood table.

But don’t worry!

These unsightly water rings (I call them the ghosts of drinks gone by) can be removed with the right method.

The heavier the stain, and the longer it is allowed to remain, the harder the mineral build up will be to remove.

Here are a few of my favorite cleaning tips (that really work!) to remove water stains fast.

What are Water Stains?

A water stain is a white ring or spot on the wood that doesn’t come off with normal cleaning.

It is caused by minerals naturally present in the water that are left on a surface and allowed to air dry. The water evaporates and the mineral solids remain, causing the stain. Real wood that hasn’t been treated with a impervious wax, varnish or a polish are easily susceptible to water stains.

How to Remove Water Stains

If your table is of particular value, antique or a family heirloom, you may want to contact a wood professional to help you out.

Regular Toothpaste

Regular toothpaste (not gel toothpaste) contains very fine abrasives and is a simple, yet effective way to eliminate white water marks on wood furniture.

  1. Slightly dampen a rag, apply a little white toothpaste.
  2. Gently rub into the spot.
  3. Dampen the rag again to remove the stain and any remaining toothpaste.
  4. Re-polish as you usually do.

Lemon Juice/Vinegar and Salt

Lemon juice and vinegar are mild acids that help to dissolve mineral solids.

  1. Simply mix the lemon juice or vinegar with salt to form a paste.
  2. Rub over the white mark using a circular motion until the stain is gone.
  3. Use a damp rag to clean up any left over residue.
  4. Polish thoroughly to restore the original luster.

Apply Heat from a Dry Iron

I was skeptical on this remedy, but it really does work. The heat softens the minerals enough so you can wipe them away. Any remaining water in the finish is evaporated away.

  1. Plug it in and set it to medium high. Do not use the steam setting.
  2. Get a clean lint free rag and place it over the stain.
  3. When the iron is hot, run it over cloth covering the stained area for a few brief seconds.
  4. Pick up the rag and check the stain, repeat until the mark is gone.
  5. Add polish or wax when finished.

Salad Oil and Salt

The salt helps remove any remaining moisture and is an abrasive. The oil penetrates the wood and removes the white discoloration.

  1. Mix up a 50/50 paste of salad oil and salt.
  2. Rub into stubborn water marks.
  3. Let the solution sit for 5-10 minutes
  4. Wipe clean.

Removing Heavy or Stubborn Water Marks

If the tips above don’t work, as a last resort you can try 000 steel wool.

This is a super fine steel wool that can lightly sand the surface to remove the water mark. Work gently to avoid damaging the surface. Because steel wool is abrasive it will remove some of the finish or varnish along with the water stain.

How to Prevent Future Water Stains

  • Always use coasters.
  • Wipe up spills and water sweat from glasses, cans, bottles immediately.
  • Protect your wood furniture with an appropriate finish.
  • Maintain your wood by waxing or polishing on regular schedule. (It repels water!)