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Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

Category Furniture
Whether someone forgot to use a coaster or a plant got over watered, water marks on wood furniture can happen very easily. Cleaning them off is a chore, but it can be done. This is a page about removing water marks from wood furniture.


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April 29, 2013

I just removed some water marks from my sister-in-law's table using Mr. Clean Erasers. I was doubtful but tried it and presto, it worked! We need to polish it yet, but it looks great.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

February 9, 2012

How do I get rid of a white water mark on furniture?

By soochatty from Middletown, DE


February 9, 20121 found this helpful

If I'm not mistaken you can crack a walnut and rub it on the spot. The oil in the nut helps to remove the mark!

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February 9, 20120 found this helpful

Formby's product line of furniture refinishing products sells a product called,"White Ring Remover". That is sold in any paint department that carries the Formby's product line.
You can also use some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and ashes from a cigarette or wood ashes from a fireplace. The ashes are a very,very fine abraisive and the petroleum is a wood conditioner. Put some over the ring, using your finger rub well into the ring. Let set about fifteen mins. then wipe off.


Either one will take the ring out .

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February 10, 20120 found this helpful

Depends on what the fabric type is on your furniture.

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February 11, 20120 found this helpful

Try a dab of Mayo, rub in with a soft cloth and buff with a dry cloth. It did a great job on my old sewing machine. GG Vi

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February 9, 20162 found this helpful

This is what I just did...

Clean dry polishing cloth folded once laid over water mark, steam iron on full heat laid onto polishing cloth allowing steam to penetrate only for a couple of seconds at a time, after only a few passes the heat and steam make the water mark disappear completely, I was amazed at how effective it was I even took before and after pictures to show other people!

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May 28, 20160 found this helpful

How do i remove water marks from on my high gloss table

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How do I remove a dark water stain on dark wood? Toothpaste took off the finish surrounding spot. I am trying to do this quickly and quietly as I'm staying with friends.


This is her table I have damaged. Help!

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December 5, 2010

How do I remove white water marks from cherry furniture?

By Beverly praszkowicz from NY


January 10, 20110 found this helpful

The Magic Eraser Worked! I sprayed Pledge on my 150 year old cherished handed-down oak secretary and walked away :( Huge horrific water marks occurred, went on this website went through recommendations, decided to try Magic Eraser hesitantly, since it says on label not recommended for wood, and it worked completely! What a lifesaver. Highly recommended!

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January 12, 20110 found this helpful

I tried the mayo, and it lightened up the water marks, but they were still there. Then tried toothpaste and that helped too. I was very nervous to try the steam iron, I reluctantly tried and the marks were gone in seconds! A miracle. I'm sooo happy.

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February 19, 20110 found this helpful

A bit of damp laundry overnight left a horrid white mark on our gorgeous timber table, followed by a thorough blaming and sulking by dear husband. An iron over a towel fixed it in a minute. Great website, thanks!

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March 8, 20110 found this helpful

I, too, have a cherry table that turned white as a result of a damp felt undercover that was placed on the table during a party. The great news is that with a steam iron and a white towel the moisture markings were gone!

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March 31, 20110 found this helpful

I was very afraid to try the iron and cloth method on my dining room table but after trying everything else I decided to try it. After 5 minutes of moving the iron around the water mark was gone. Hope everyone else has the same luck as me.

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How do I get an old water spot off a solid oak kitchen table (light wood)?

By Onesummer


September 10, 20090 found this helpful

You might want to view 'Restor-a-finish.... should be at Home Depot..


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September 11, 20090 found this helpful

I just had the same problem on my teak dining table. I put olive oil on a paper towel and rubbed it in then left the towel on the spot for quite a while. It disappeared!

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September 11, 20090 found this helpful

RE: Heat Marks on Wood Furniture

I have found the best way to get rid of the white rings from heat or moisture on furniture, I have tried with no luck using Mayonnaise, cigarette ashes, toothpaste, hot iron and towels and what I have found that works is the Mr. Clean Magic eraser dampen the eraser rub gently with the grain of the wood and then polishing as usual, I happen to like Armor All as a furniture polish, if it's not a bad white mark the magic eraser will removed it completely, if it solid white you may have to do it several times It may leave a bit of a ghost but that's still better than having a big white mark.


This was not a bad 1, you can see on the right it's gone. Now that I know how to fix them nobody's making them.

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October 22, 2013

I had a water mark on my dining table. I thought it would be no big deal to sand the whole finish off and stain and presto it would be beautiful, but oh was I wrong. I sanded and stained the spot and it turned much darker than the rest of the table. Then I sanded and stained again, still not fixing the problem.


Then I tried bleach and sanding which then made the spot really light. I tried to make the spot bigger in hopes to blend it better and then stained again. And it is still turned much darker than the rest of the table. What is the best way to repair my table?

By Emily T


October 24, 20130 found this helpful

You certainly get an A for effort. If the table is worth it, find someone experienced in wood refinishing and have the whole top redone. Or you could redo the entire top yourself. Patching a finish on wood is difficult to impossible. If the table is a veneer, be careful not to sand so much you break thru the veneer. Good luck!

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March 16, 2013

How can I remove watermarks from the polished surface of a table?

By pwreford


March 28, 20130 found this helpful

This sounds ridiculous but try mayo. Just rub mayo on the mark and then rub in till it's all gone. It worked for me on my cedar chest.

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January 16, 2013

I have a light oak table with black water marks after a flower arrangement was placed on the table which sat there for a couple of weeks last June 2012. Also someone spilled wine or port on my table. Please help.

By Lorraine


August 26, 20130 found this helpful

I wish I had an answer, but I too, need help with this kind of damage.

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December 31, 2012

How do I remove water stains from light colored wood?

By D from Home


January 2, 20130 found this helpful

I have never tried this myself but I am passing along a hint I saw from the Farmer's Almanac newsletter. It says to use mayonnaise to remove water stains from wood. Perhaps you could try a small area where it doesnt show so much?

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December 11, 2012

How do I remove a water stain from my wooden dining room table?

By Linda D.


December 12, 20120 found this helpful

Try rubbing it with the cut edge of a walnut.

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December 12, 2011

How do you remove water spots on a wood table?

By Sonny H. from Galveston, TX


January 20, 20120 found this helpful

Heat a dry iron, place 2 layers of a white t-shirt on top of the stain, press a few seconds, then peek under the t-shirt. Keep doing that until the stain is gone.

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January 13, 2015

My grandson was wet sanding his motercycle in the garage. I had a TV cabinet stored there and he splashed sanding water on it and left white marks. How do I get them off?

By Deanna S.

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November 11, 2013

I split a glass of water on a pine dresser and would like some advice as to how to remove it.

By Eileen

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September 23, 2013

I have an small antique table that my mother, for years, used to keep her prized African violets on. A lot of times she would over water and the excess would lay underneath the dish that they sat on. This destroyed the finish and penetrated the wood. I had no choice, but to strip the old finish off, but now there is a large darker ring that I'm afraid I can't get rid of. Any suggestions?

By Jack

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July 22, 2013

What is the iron cloth method to remove white water stains from a mahogany coffee table?

By Tricia H

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June 3, 2012

I stripped the varnish and stain from the wood and I am left with a large (12 inch) water ring. How can I get the whole top to mimic the stain?

By KRC from Sheboygan, WI

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October 17, 2011

This is a page about removing drink rings from wood furniture. When cups are set on wood furniture without a coaster and a ring can be left behind creating an unsightly blemish on the surface of the wood.

White rings left by drinks on a wood table.

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March 4, 2017

Spills or overflowing potted plants can result in water marks on your furniture. This is a page about removing a water stain on an oak table.

Oak Table

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 29, 2008

How do I get rid of a bad water mark on my pine table?



Removing Heat and Water Marks from Wood Furniture

I tried the ashes and Mayo, nothing, then the toothpaste, nothing happened so I got the iron out turned the steam on, put a cloth over the top of the stain and like magic my heat stains disappeared. I had numerous stains that were hidden under my tablecloth for years now my dark stained table is like new again. Thanks for all the tips, I new one of them had to work! (11/20/2006)

By Cheryl

Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

This hint is a life saver! We just experienced flooding from the Nor'easter and the front base of our 100 year old bookcase (we bought less than a month ago) had all sorts of watermarks.We tried Old English, Howard's Restor-a-finish and my husband was just taking out the steel wool when I went online and found this. The mayo and woods ashes worked a little but really kicked in with the hairdryer. THANK YOU to whoever discovered this! (04/21/2007)

By Laura Berman

Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

Hard to believe, but it does work! I had a water mark that was a few months old, even though the casserole was put on a straw trivet, the steam still made a mark...tried the oil and vinegar, didn't work, burned some paper and mixed with mayo (wasn't sure if miracle whip would work, but the mayo did!)....applied and rubbed, nothing, did another application and then heated with blow drier, half disappeared, and on the thrid try the entire mark is gone. The mark was the circumfrance of the casserole, so wasn't small....and now you would never know!!! Thanks for the great trick....felt kinda silly, so mixed it up when no one was home, but you can bet I'll remember this one to pass on to others!!!! (04/30/2007)

By stephanie

Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

This morning I found water marks on the dining table from a couple hours earlier, a cherry dining table made by Stickley (a new one, not an heirloom).

Tried something new of my own thinking and it works pretty well: toasted (roasted) sesame oil, the brown kind used for flavoring, not the clear or amber kind used for cooking. You can find it in the supermarket or an Asian food store not far from the soy sauce.

It's not a perfect solution, but since the table already had a little bit of mottling from hard use and some cat scratches (from when we forget to clip their nails and they go table surfing), I wasn't looking for perfection.

By regular applications of the oil, gently rubbing it in by hand, and a little bit of hairdryer use (although the warmth did not seem to add all that much), and sometimes just letting the oil sit on the stained spots, the spots gradually darkened to approximately the normal shade. It left it a little darker around the edges of where the stain was, but only slightly.

The oil seems to have a penetrating quality, and because it has color in it, that seems to help the process. Again, not perfect, but the table looks a lot better now. (05/28/2007)

By Ronski

Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

Mayonnaise has always worked for me. But the morning after our Fourth of July party I found watermarks on my coffee table that mayonnaise couldn't seem to touch (even leaving it overnight). I just tried the iron and it worked beautifully and quickly. Thank you so much! (07/09/2007)

By Loganbiz

Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

I just bought a cherry Dining room suite for $200 from a garage sale. It had big white heat stains all over it! The seller said some were new and some a couple of years old(from casarole dish size to multiple coffee cup size. He wanted $300, thinking I had to sand and try to match finish and colour I offered $200. That thought changed when I found this forum. Thinking the mayo and ash was completely crazy. I tried it with "Miracle Whip" and a yes HEAT GUN. It worked!!!! I noticed the trick was to get it so hot, that when you wipped off (the almost cooked) mayo it gave off smoke/vapour when touching the hot uncovered wood. I wish I took before and after shots. Who ever thought of this or first and added this to the forum, I lift my glass to you. CHEERS! (07/22/2007)

By Jay

RE: Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

Removing Marks from Wood Furniture

Many years ago I had a spot on our wood dining table from a straw-like hot pad being used under a very hot dish. The result of course was a big mark on the table. First I mixed a little cream of tartar and made a paste and rubbed it on the spot. Then I used a pecan nut and the oils from it totally removed the burnt spot. (10/11/2007)

By Ruthie

Removing Water Marks from Wood Furniture

The ash and mayo mixture worked great! I just used it on a cherry wood coffee table. A dinner plate size white mark left from the day before from a warm pizza box. Put the hair dryer on high and had to work it around the area for about ten minutes. I then repplied the mayo mixture a second time to spots that seemed not so easy to get rid of and eventually they all disappeared. The table looks just like new! Thanks so much for the help. (11/03/2007)

By Sue

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August 23, 2006

I am trying to get a heat stain off my pine table. As well as water marks? Any suggestions?

Tanya from Milton, ON


Removing Heat and Water Marks from Wood Furniture

For heat marks or water marks on wood furniture, mix some wood ashes with mayonnaise (really!) and rub the glop into the stain with a soft cloth. You may have to use more than one application, but there's a good chance the stain will become invisible. Once it has disappeared, polish with regular furniture polish. And next time, use a trivet or a coaster!

By Becki in Indiana

Ashes on Light Oak

This worked wonderfully-but now I have black from the ashes in the grain of the wood (light oak). Any ideas how to remove that?

By Kim

HairDryer to Remove Water Marks from Wood Furniture

Try a hairdryer, heat the watermarked spot, using a very soft cloth to rub hard. The sooner the better, but sometimes will work with old watermarks. Cloth must be absolutely soft -- no seams or anything that will scratch the finish. A diaper is best. Let sit and cool. Then apply your regular furniture polish. (05/11/2005)

By Robert

Thanks for the Tip

Thank-you so much! This worked on a white heat mark that had gone through from a hot teapot on a thick rush mat!! Also worked on 2 white heat marks that had happened last Christmas. I mean, these were not small marks! Thought my pine table was ruined but thanks to your tip it looks as good as it ever did! (09/27/2005)

By Cornish Queen

Mayo With Ash Worked, Mayo Alone Didn't

I had already tried Mayonnaise on a water stain and it didn't work. So I got some ashes out of the wood-stove, mixed the mayo again and this time it worked! Thank you so much! (10/12/2005)

By Sharon Forbes


I just couldn't believe this when I read it but having tried all else on a very large heat mark on a dark mahogany table (and yes I did have mats out) I thought I had nothing to lose. Miraculous- Thanks! (11/13/2005)

By Anne Davies

Hairdyer and a Diaper

Hairdryer and diaper worked great on a white watermark on antique sewing machine with original finish. First tried mayo only with little or no results Wiped up mayo and then heated stain with hair dryer while rubbing with diaper. Stain is completely gone.

Thank so much (12/12/2005)

By Rick

Mayonnaise and Ash

I had previously tried everything and this morning found your site and also the mayonnaise and ash trick I cannot believe how ridiculously easy it has been to remove a white heat mark on our large antique dining room table!
A big thank you!! (12/18/2005)

By Rod (UK)

Aloe and Baking Powder

i tried aloe vera oil and baking powder and it worked better than anything I'd seen in my life. (12/31/2005)

By pongo

Hair Dryer

Hairdryer worked great on a 3 day old watermark. Just hold it close to the wood and watch it disappear. AMAZING! (01/15/2006)

By William from GA

Burnt Some Paper and Twigs for Ash

Thank you! I didn't have any wood ashes, so I burnt some paper and twigs and got the ashes. It worked! my favorite dining table is saved! (01/18/2006)

By wendy


My Mother always used Mayonnaise to remove water stains from any of the wood furniture. Depending on how the water was on it you may need to leave the mayo on the surface for a long time. (01/26/2006)

By Jackie


Wow - really works - Felt a bit daft mixing the mayo but watched the mark disappear - thank you ! (03/09/2006)

By John in Grandborough UK

Mayo and Ash

How great it was to see that others "in-the-know" are able to pass on these old tricks of the trade. My grandfather who was one of the great Master Craftsman of Grand Rapids, Michigan Furniture making fame - used this same formula for working "magic" on many priceless pieces of furniture that passed through his hands. He never once had a complaint, and as many have already observed, it's such an "easy fix". Grandpa said it's because of the fats in the oil - and the wood still was porous and would drink in the oil once it was broken down with heat. I'd love to know how many gallons of mayo went onto the furniture he so lovingly cared for. He not only built priceless pieces, but, cared for old ones that were brought to him by folks to who sought out the very best hands to care for their furniture. Thanks for the opportunity to give him one more pat on the back, Bev in Grand Rapids (04/19/2006)

By Beverly K. Combs


WoW it really worked. Thanks for the help. (08/01/2006)

By Nick


Ok, we are house sitting for some neighbors while we are in between house. Being a guy, honestly, I had no idea a warm plate could leave a white heat mark on a table. So, heated up my plate, ate lunch and oops, a big white stain/mark on our friend's table. We initially thought of replacing the table or getting a furniture repair company in to fix it. Found this post. Got some ash, mayonnaise, mixed it up and rubbed it in with a soft rag. It didn't work as well until I took a hair dryer and heated the spot while rubbing vigorously. Amazing! Not even the smallest remnant. Thank you, Becki! (08/08/2006)

By Chris

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