How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

There’s no eye sore like seeing a water ring on your dining room table after a holiday party. And there is no frustration like trying to remove water stains from wood with no end in sight. Many of us don’t know how to actually address the issue. And in some cases, if you use the wrong products, you may end up ruining the finish on your wood. 

That’s why we have come up with an ultimate guide on how to get water stains out of wood. And to go a step further, we have answered the most frequently asked questions so that there is no doubt about getting those water stains up. 

Spotting Water Stains on Wood

Before we get into how to remove water stains from wood, it’s worth knowing how to spot them and what happens if you leave them without care. Water stains or watermarks often come from a cold glass or hot dish that is placed directly on the wood. That’s why using coasters can be a lifesaver. For the most part, water stains are treatable. But once they go from a light smudge to a dark spot, they become bad news. 

This likely means that the water stain has set deep into the wood. This may lead to needing to refinish the product rather than a simple cleanup. So, get ahead of the game by always acting quickly.

  1. White water marks on the wood are from condensation from cold or hot items being placed directly on your wood. This is when the water sits inside the woods, making it less of a problem than a dark ring. 
  2. Dark watermarks on wood require an entirely different process because the water has penetrated the wood past its finish. There are a few approaches to this problem but no quick fixes. 

    How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

    How to Remove Water Stains From Wood Tabletop

    Well, how do you get white water stains out of wood? Well, these are the most common issues you will run into after leaving a cold glass on the table. So, let’s take a look at a few different solutions that can help. 

    Grab an Iron

    This method has been tried and true for almost all basic water stains. It’s simple and an easy fix. 

    What You Need:

    • An iron
    • A cloth that can be ironed (a basic bath towel should work)


    1. Set your iron up on an ironing board or heat-safe place on the absolute lowest setting. Let it warm up. The steam mode definitely needs to be turned off, or else you will add more water stains than remove any. 
    2. Next, grab your cloth and lay it over the water stain. Now you can run the iron over the cloth but be sure to move the iron consistently in the same direction each time. 
    3. After five or so passes on the cloth, check to see if the watermark is getting lighter. You may need to do this a few times, but the watermark should lift with the heat. 

    Simple. That’s it. This is the best approach how to remove water stains from wood with an iron. 

    How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

    A Solution-Based Mix

    You don’t need to go to buy a special wood cleaner when you have all the ingredients you need in your pantry. If you don’t have an iron handy, then you can try this solution right here. 

    What You Need:

    • Olive oil
    • White distilled vinegar


    1. Mix together equal parts olive oil with equal parts white distilled vinegar in a bowl.
    2. Using a clean non-shedding microfiber cloth, dip the cloth into the solution. 
    3. Then rub the cloth in the same direction as the wood grain to lift the stain. The olive oil will polish with wood while the vinegar helps lift the stain.

    How does Vaseline remove water stains from wood?

    Vaseline or petroleum jelly can be a great quick fix if you are trying to remove a light water stain from wood. It’s a good solution for wood table tops because they are a high-touch surface

    What You Need:

    • Petroleum jelly
    • Non-abrasive microfiber cloth 


    1. Using a microfiber cloth, apply a thin layer of vaseline to the water-stained area. 
    2. Let it sit overnight to lightly penetrate the wood finish, and replace the water stain with the oil from the jelly. 
    3. The next morning, you can wipe away the jelly with a new clean cloth. If the stain persists, try the process again for one more night. 
    How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

    Does mayonnaise remove water stains on wood?

    Mayonnaise acts very similar to petroleum jelly or Vaseline. But you may not have those things handy, so check to see if there is any mayonnaise lying around. This is also a solution for when you immediately notice the stain. 

    What You Need:

    • Mayonnaise
    • Paper towel or microfiber cloth 


    1. Using a microfiber towel, spread some mayonnaise over the water-stained area. If you just spilled the water, then blot the area first. 
    2. Leave the mayonnaise on for at least a few hours. But the best solution is to let it sit overnight.
    3. The next morning, you can use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe up the mayonnaise. 

    Toothpaste Can Help

    For tougher water stains, you can try rubbing some toothpaste on the water. The idea is simple. Put a little toothpaste on a rag and lightly scrub the area that is affected. Sometimes a toothbrush can work better than a cloth. Then use a lightly (emphasis on lightly) dampened cloth and wipe away. 

    How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

      How To Remove Water Stains That Are Dark, Deep, and a Pain

      So, what do you do when the water stains don’t lift? There are a few solutions you try. 

      1. The first idea would be to use a commercial cleaner. The reason why some people prefer using natural products first is to avoid using any harmful toxins or chemicals around the house. But sometimes, we need an extra duty approach to help the situation.
      2. Ultimately, if you find that neither commercial cleaners nor homemade remedies are working, then the water stain may be set very deep. In this case, you will need to refinish the wood table with a professional or by yourself. You can also ask a professional to reapply a water seal to keep new water stains out.
      Top Commercial Cleaners
      Where to Buy Them?
      A-MAZ Water Stain Remover
      BioClean Water Stain Remover
      Home Depot
      WOCA Spot Remover
      Midwest Flooring
      How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Wood watermarks are easy to spot and a pain to deal with. It can lead to asking tons of questions and feeling like you aren’t sure what to do. That’s why this section addresses some of the most commonly asked questions. 

      Are water stains on wood permanent?

      Most of the lightly colored water stains are not permanent. Many of the listed tricks and tips above can help remove the water stain. But you may notice that it isn’t 100 percent going away. In this case, some water stains are permanent. Technically speaking, you can refinish the wood. 

      But sometimes, if the wood product has already been refinished a number of times, this may not be an option either. This is why it is essential to take care of water stains as quickly as possible. And it’s good to know that water stains can end up in other places like countertops and marble islands

      How to remove water stains from laminate wood furniture

      A lot of people want to know if treating water stains from laminate wood furniture is the same as hardwood. For starters, laminate wood furniture is made of engineered wood rather than true natural wood from a tree. However, you will notice that the process is nearly the same. It’s much less common to find all-natural hardwood products today. Likely, you will be dealing with laminate wood furniture. 

      It is important to note that hardwood sometimes is easier to get water stains than laminate wood. Laminate often has protective coatings from other materials. 

      Can I hire someone professionally to treat water stains?

      You can hire professional help, as you could hire someone to clean your kitchen or other parts of the house. If you do have cleaners, that should automatically go around to treat water stains that are on wood. But you don’t need to hire someone out specifically to do this job. You can just try any of the methods listed above. 

      Do different types of wood call for different types of treatment?

      Generally speaking, no. Having said that, the best thing you can do to take care of your wood floors or products is to read the manufacturer’s label. Sometimes there is a warranty with higher quality wood products that will help out if you notice the water is damaging the wood too easily. But the important thing is that some products can ruin wood finishings and void the warranty completely. 

      Some wood types are more absorbable to liquids than others and may require some extra caution. You can always ask a specialist if the product comes with a water stain seal. This is common for most wood products. If it doesn’t come with one, then you can also hire a professional to help apply one to offer more protection.