How To Remove Watermarks From Wood

Fixing something is cheaper than buying something new, so we love tips like this one from Apartment Therapy:

Place a cotton cloth directly over the stain and with a dry iron (NO STEAM!) press down for several seconds on the cloth. Remove and check the stain. Keep doing until the watermarks are completely gone. It could take a minute or two to get the stain out completely.

Yes! We are going to try this. Wish us luck.—MEGHANN MARCO

How To… Remove Water Stains From Wood [Apartment Therapy via Curbly]


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  1. MeOhMy says:

    My in-laws have had success with the bizarre “mayo and cigaretee ash” method.

  2. MercuryPDX says:

    The same method (No steam iron + Cotton cloth/towel) also works great in getting dripped candle wax out of carpets and off your walls.

  3. rich.h says:

    It works. Set the iron medium-high (“wool”), use a light towel that you don’t care about, and hit the spot in 30-second increments until it’s gone. No pressure needed; the weight of the iron is enough. Rotate treatments among badly-spotted areas to avoid scorching the wood.
    We used this technique to rehab a nice, but badly water-spotted, dining room set we picked up dirt-cheap at a garage sale. Worked well enough to let us avoid a full strip and refinish. Total cost: a couple hours and a few scorched cloths.

  4. Katie says:

    Toothpaste used with a soft rag also works fairly well to remove moisture stains from a wood finish as well – you just buff ’til the mark’s gone.

  5. homerjay says:

    @Katie: So if you’re looking for something to do with that South African toothpaste you were planning on chucking….

  6. monkeyboy says:

    This works! I’ve had some stains on my work desk for a year or so, and kept putting it off to research how to remove them. Its almost like magic the way this works. Anyone know the technical aspects of whats going on in this process?

  7. shoegazer says:

    @monkeyboy: The trapped moisture in the varnish / finish gets heated up and dissipates?

    I also used this to completely remove year old watermarks from our dining table. My wife thought I’d bought some ninja cleaning product – she even complimented me on “how it doesn’t even smell”. I did tell her afterwards.

  8. nucleotide says:

    Use fine steel wool and orange oil. Ashes can help too.

  9. SexCpotatoes says:

    @MercuryPDX: Methinks MercuryPDX has some kinky candle wax sex!

  10. fonzette says:

    @Troy F.:
    Mayo works. I was often required to do this as a child, since I was criminally inclined to leave my sweaty drink on my mother’s nice end tables. |
    Rub in some mayo till your little 8 year old arms hurt, wait 20 minutes, then rub some more.