Six surprising ways to remove water stains from wood

Water stains on wood furniture or flooring can be a nightmare. Whether it’s a pesky water ring left behind by a mug or a more stubborn stain from a leaking plant pot, these blemishes can detract from the natural beauty of your wooden surfaces. But there are effective ways to banish water stains and restore your wood to its former glory.

Understanding water stains 

Before diving into the removal methods, it’s essential to understand the two primary types of water stains that can affect wood: white water stains (commonly known as water rings) and dark water stains.

  1. White water stains are usually caused by moisture trapped in the finish of the wood rather than in the wood itself. They manifest as cloudy or white marks on the surface and are typically easier to remove.
  2. Dark water stains are more stubborn and occur when water penetrates deeper into the wood, causing discolouration. Dark water stains can be more challenging to eliminate, and you may need to refinish the wood entirely.

How to remove water stains


One surprising fix for water stains is probably already in your fridge. The oil in mayonnaise works to displace the moisture in a water ring and remedy any cloudy residue in the finish of wood furniture. Using a paper towel, dab mayonnaise onto the stain. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight with the paper towel on top. Wipe away the mayo with a clean cloth and finish by polishing.

Vinegar and olive oil

In a small bowl, mix equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Apply the mixture to the water stain using a cloth. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain until the stain is gone. The vinegar will help remove the stain while the olive oil acts as a furniture polish. Finish by wiping with a clean, dry cloth.


For this method, make sure the toothpaste doesn’t have any whitening agents and choose the typical paste type over a gel. Dab a generous amount of toothpaste onto a clean cloth. Buff the toothpaste onto the stain. Continue to gently rub the stain until the stain is completely removed. Wipe away any residue with a cloth or paper towel.


Start by setting your hairdryer to low heat. Hold the dryer a few inches away from the stain and move it in circular motions. Continue this process for several minutes until you notice the stain fading. Finish by buffing the area with a soft, dry cloth.


To remove water rings using an iron, begin by placing a clean cloth over the affected area. Make sure to use a plain cotton cloth to prevent any pattern or design being transferred onto the wood. Ensure that the iron’s water reservoir is empty, then set it to a low heat setting. Once the iron is warm, gently place it on the cloth covering the water stain. After a few seconds, lift the iron and cloth to inspect the stain. If it persists, repeat the process until the stain is removed. This method is most effective on stains that are still moist rather than deeply ingrained, as it efficiently evaporates moisture from the surface finish.

Baking soda

Combine water and baking soda to create a dense paste. Begin with one tablespoon of baking soda and gradually add water in small increments until the paste reaches the desired consistency. Apply this paste to your wood stain using a microfiber cloth, gently rubbing the surface for a few minutes. Avoid using water to clean off the baking soda residue; instead, use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away any remaining paste.

Have you ever had a pesky water stain on wood? How did you remove it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: How to safely remove embarrassing stains

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -