Removing Water Stains from Wood Furniture

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated July 20, 2020)

My Aunt Nora's and Uncle Jim's old farmhouse housed a mahogany solid-wood dining table that seated eight, and a matching hutch. The furniture was too big for the small room, but there was no other place for them. I needed no alarm clock to awake early in that house. The aroma of Uncle Jim's strong coffee perking on the cook stove wafted up the stairs to the loft room, rousing me from my blanket where I had lain all night long on the hard floor next to my siblings and cousins.

While the others still slept, I crept downstairs to the kitchen, knowing that Uncle Jim would be standing there at the stove offering, "Eggs and bacon, April?" As I seated myself at the wooden table, Aunt Nora was in the corner, pushing the slide of the toaster down, making toast for me while she sipped her strong brew. As I waited for the toast, the morning sunlight streamed in through the window, and I counted the rings left on the table top from years of sweating glasses of orange juice, hot coffee, Coke bottles, hot food plates, and short glasses of Kentucky bourbon.

My aunt and uncle's table bore evidence of use because they didn't bother to treat the water stains left behind from years of family gatherings. Removing water stains from furniture can be quite simple, even if the stains have been around for years. There are several remedies. If one doesn't work, try another, and soon your wood furniture will be free of water stains:

  • If the stain is fresh, wipe away the water and place a weighted paper towel over the water ring for at least three hours. A good weight is a very large and heavy book.
  • For an older stain, place large amount of mayonnaise onto the water ring and rub it into the stain with a paper towel. Allow the mayonnaise to sit over night and wipe it all away in the morning. Using a little more mayonnaise mixed with cigarette ashes, make a paste and rub it into the stain for at least 20 minutes. With a clean cloth, wipe away the mixture and the stain will be gone.
  • Use white toothpaste (not gel toothpaste) and baking soda, mix in equal amounts, and then apply the paste to the water stain. Agitate the paste into the stain for at least 20 minutes, and then wipe clean.

Some people advocate using a hot iron on furniture stains, but heat applied in that manner may do more harm than good. For stains that you cannot remove, consult a furniture expert, especially if the wood furniture is an antique.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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