Cleaning Guides

5 Simple Ways to Remove Watermarks from Wood

Picture this: you’ve decided to have a small gathering at your home. It all goes great, everyone had fun and the food and drinks were delicious. The party comes to an end and you go to bed satisfied.

The next morning you wake up to find cup rings all over your wooden furniture! That’s sure to spoil anyone’s mood. But fear not! We have gathered some useful tips to help you get water stains out of wood.

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So, if this has happened to you:

  • You’ve had a party and ended up with cup rings on your wooden furniture;
  • Your family simply won’t use coasters;
  • You’ve discovered dark water stains on your furniture,

Then read on! This post is for you.

How to remove white water stains from wood

If the water stains on your furniture are white or a lighter colour, you’re in luck. Removing white watermarks from wood is not a difficult task. This colour indicates that the moisture has only penetrated the coating and hasn’t reached the wood itself.

Test your chosen cleaning method on an inconspicuous area first to avoid damaging the surface any more.

Removing watermarks from wood with an iron

In most cases, if the stain is recent, you can easily remove it using a clothes iron. The heat will help the wood release the trapped moisture and the watermark will disappear.

You’ll need: a clean cloth, a clothes iron, a cotton towel or t-shirt

So, here’s what to do:

  1. Wipe the surface.

    Wipe any dust and grime off the furniture with a clean cloth.

  2. Cover the stain with a towel.

    Place a cotton towel or t-shirt over the watermark to protect the surface.

  3. Turn on the iron.

    Remove all the water from the iron. Turn it on to the lowest temperature and let it heat up.

  4. Iron the stain.

    Run the iron over the stain for 5-10 seconds. Remove the heat for 20-30 seconds and lift the towel to check if the stain is beginning to disappear.

  5. Repeat.

    It might take a few cycles to get the stain out completely. Repeat until the watermark disappears.

How to remove water stains from wood with mayonnaise

The way this method works is simple – the oil in the mayonnaise can displace the water that is caught in the wood. Alternatively, you can use petroleum jelly.

You’ll need: a clean cloth, mayonnaise or petroleum jelly, wood cleaner

Here is how to proceed:

  1. Clean the surface.
    Wipe the furniture with a clean cloth to remove dust and dirt.
  2. Spread mayonnaise or petroleum jelly on the stain.
    Place some mayonnaise or petroleum jelly on the surface and rub the stain using a cloth.
  3. Let it sit.
    Leave the substance on the stain for a few hours, or – if possible – overnight.
  4. Clean up the residue.
    Wipe the leftovers off the furniture and clean it with a microfibre cloth and some hardwood detergent.

How to get watermarks off wood with toothpaste

You’ll need: white, non-gel toothpaste, a clean cloth, an old toothbrush

Follow these steps to remove water stains from furniture:

  1. Wipe the surface.
    Clean up any dirt from the furniture.
  2. Rub toothpaste on the stain.
    Place some white, non-gel toothpaste on the stain and scrub it using an old toothbrush or a cloth. Try to contain the scrubbing to the stained area to avoid causing more damage to the finish.
  3. Clean up the leftover toothpaste.
    Once the stain disappears, wipe the residue off with a clean cloth.

Removing water stains using baking soda

For a stronger cleaning solution, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water.

You’ll need: baking soda, water, a clean cloth

  1. Clean up the surface.
    Wipe any dust and dirt off with a clean cloth.
  2. Prepare a cleaning paste.
    Mix baking soda with a few drops of water to form a paste.
  3. Scrub the stain.
    Use a cloth to rub the mixture on the stain until it disappears.
  4. Clean up the residue.
    Remove any leftover mixture from the surface.

Baking soda is very handy when it comes to cleaning your oven and gas hobs, as well.

Alternatively, for double the cleaning power, you can mix equal parts toothpaste and baking soda.

How to remove water rings with salt and oil

You’ll need: salt, olive oil, a clean cloth

Here is how to use this method:

  1. Clean the surface.
    Wipe dust and dirt off the furniture.
  2. Prepare the cleaning solution.
    Mix salt with a few drops of olive oil to make a paste.
  3. Scrub the stain.
    Use a cloth to spread the mixture over the stain and rub until it disappears.
  4. Clean up the residue.
    Wipe away any leftover paste.

And you’re done! No more unsightly cup rings on your hardwood table. After dealing with water stains, it is a good idea to wax or polish your wooden furniture to prevent any further damage.

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Removing dark water stains from wood

If the watermarks on your furniture are dark or black, it means that the moisture has gone through to the wood. Unfortunately, these stains are a lot more difficult to handle.

While some of the methods mentioned above might work, it will depend on the age of the stain and the level of damage it has done.

If you’re dealing with dark water stains on wood, your best bet will be to call a professional to restore your furniture. This is especially true if you’re dealing with antique and valuable pieces.

How to remove water stains from unfinished wood

You can use the same methods listed above to remove watermarks from unfinished wood, as well. Alternatively, you can lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper until the stain disappears or lightens.

However, for raw wood, we have found the salt or baking soda cleaning methods to be most effective.

Need a hand with cleaning?

Cleaning up after a party is no pleasant task. So, why not take a break and let the professionals help? Fantastic Services offers a reliable one-off deep cleaning service that will leave your home looking better than ever.

You can save time to do the things you enjoy, while the experienced cleaners take care of the rest. They will follow your personalised cleaning checklist and use products that are safe for you and your household.

Booking is easy! Simply use our online form and choose a time that best fits your schedule. Sit back and relax – we will handle the hard work!

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  • White rings indicate that the moisture has only penetrated the surface coat, while dark water stains mean the water has reached the wood underneath.
  • You can easily remove white watermarks using household materials.
  • To deal with dark water stains, you may need professional help.
  • Always test your chosen cleaning method on a hidden area first.


Did you find this post useful? Did you manage to remove the water stains from your furniture? Let us know in the comments below!

Image source: shutterstock / P-fotography

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