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How to Remove Water Stains from Wood

by Linda Cleans 29 Mar 2023

There’s no eye sore like seeing a water ring on your dining room table, and there is no frustration like trying to remove water stains from wood with seemingly no resolve, you pretty much just admit defeat and come to the realisation you’re going to have to live with that water stain now. Many of us just 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 or even making it worse. 

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. 

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 over a prolonged period of time. 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, so if you ever thought your mum was over reacting if you put your drink on the table, think again! 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 wood rather than a simple cleanup. So, get ahead of the game by always acting quickly.

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 wood but not past its finish, making it less of a problem than a dark ring. 

So, let’s take a look at a few different solutions and hacks that you can try….

The Iron Method

Grab the Iron! This method has been tried and tested 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 bath towel should work)


Set your iron up on an ironing board and switch it on the lowest setting possible. Let it warm up. Remember the steam mode needs to be turned off as this will add more water stains rather than remove any. 

Next, grab your cloth and lay it over the top of your water stain. Run the iron over the cloth but be sure to move the iron consistently in the same direction each time. 

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. 

A Solution-Based Mix

Like a lot of us, you may find your self a little strapped up for cash, so don’t worry, you don’t need to go to buy a special wood cleaner when you have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen!  So if you don’t have an iron handy, then you can try this solution instead:

What You Need:

Olive oil

White distilled vinegar


Mix together a solution of half and half olive oil and white distilled vinegar in a bowl.

Once you’ve done this then use a clean microfibre cloth (can be found in our products!) and dip the cloth into the solution. 

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 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:


Non-abrasive microfibre cloth 


Using a microfibre cloth, apply a thin layer of vaseline to the water-stained area. 

Let it sit overnight to lightly penetrate the wood finish, and replace the water stain with the oil from the jelly. 

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. 

One question we get is does mayonnaise actually remove water stains on wood?

 Mayonnaise acts very similar to Vaseline. But you may not have this handy, so check to see if there is any mayonnaise lying around, it’s definitely more likely! This is also a solution for when you immediately notice the stain and want to act on it. 

What You Need:


Paper towel or microfibre cloth 


Using a microfibre cloth and spread some mayonnaise over the water-stained area. If you just spilled the water, then blot the area first, do not rub it into the wood as this would create more of a water stain.

Leave the mayonnaise on for at least a few hours. If you have the option of waiting and no pets attempting to lick the mayo, then the best solution is to let it sit overnight.

The next morning, you can use a clean microfibre cloth to wipe up the mayonnaise and the stain should be resolved.

We hope some of these tricks help you and gets rid of those awful wood stains!!!


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