Asked on Dec 27, 2016

How can I remove these water marks from wood tables?

Nakeisha F
by Nakeisha F
My husband bought these tables and a few of them are in good condition while some have like water marks on them (not sure though). I would like to know what could I use to get these tables in its original state? Thanks!
  45 answers
  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Dec 28, 2016

    I haven't tried it yet myself, but a bunch of Hometalkers have said that rubbing mayonnaise on the marks works!

  • Wylie Wylie on Dec 28, 2016

    i have had success with rubbing alcohol and dry with a hair dryer

  • Cecile Pearsall Cecile Pearsall on Dec 28, 2016

    Rubbing a half walnut on the stain should do it. I've done this with scratches and water rings on my wood tables.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 28, 2016

    Rub oil,peanut butter,coconut oil, mayo or plain toothpaste(not gel) into the area with a soft cloth leave on long enough for the solution to aid in removing the marks and wipe with a clean cloth.

  • Alice M. Kirkland Alice M. Kirkland on Dec 28, 2016

    As a young housewife in the 70s, I encountered water marks on dark pine end tables. My mother-in-law suggested putting cigar ashes on the spot and rubbing with a soft cloth. Her brother smoked cigars, so when he visited, I took some ashes from the ashtray he used and tried her suggestion and it worked perfectly. I saved some of the ashes in a recycled baby food jar, so I had them for future projects.

    • Kca11578356 Kca11578356 on Dec 30, 2016

      I was going to suggest the same things, Cigar ashes have worked fir me, too!

  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Dec 28, 2016

    If the photos are correct you have bald spots of the lacquer!Just sand the whole top lightly with 220 grit sand paper,wipe with a damp clothe,and apply liquid plastic.

  • Nakeisha F Nakeisha F on Dec 28, 2016

    Thanks everyone for your help!

  • Sarah Sarah on Dec 28, 2016

    Before you do anything, try Dutch Glow first. It's good to get out water marks if you want to keep the wood in it's finished form.

  • Donna Crosland Donna Crosland on Dec 28, 2016

    This works and is very easy and you can't mess it up. Make sure you are in a well ventilated room for this project.

    Howards Refinish (I use Walnut for everything and cut it down with alcohol if I need a lighter stain

    000 steel wool

    soft cloth to wipe on the Howards on the rest of the piece.

    gently pour a small amount of Howards on the area and then go with the grain and rub gently with the steel wool. Do not do circles as this will cause a scratched appearance.

    Continue until the white rings/marks are gone.

    Wipe entire surface with Howards and buff

    Beauty is restored!

  • Nakeisha F Nakeisha F on Dec 28, 2016

    Thank you Donna!

  • Dawn E Brown Dawn E Brown on Dec 29, 2016

    I know it sounds crazy, but you can Iron them out. Put your iron on as hot as it gets - NO STEAM and carefully iron out the stain. I did it to my table and I am delighted with the results, now if I could just get the scratches out as easily . . .

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    • Kathryn Drescher Kathryn Drescher on Aug 06, 2023

      Funny thing about ironing - that’s what caused the spots in the first place. I was ironing out canvas and the steam went onto the table- now I won’t use steam lol

  • Virginia Prestridge Virginia Prestridge on Dec 29, 2016

    sometimes you just clean the wax off and water marks go away

  • Lus2122838 Lus2122838 on Dec 29, 2016

    Rub with Vaseline then wipe off when the marks are gone

  • Joy Hammond Norton Joy Hammond Norton on Dec 30, 2016

    I've always used rubbing alcohol.

  • Terry Meek Terry Meek on Dec 30, 2016

    you can always use mayo too. I think it's the oil in it that works. just rub it in and around the water mark and it helps make it go away.

  • Dlf16671793 Dlf16671793 on Dec 30, 2016

    they have a cloth you can buy that removes watermarks without damaging the finish. Works great.

  • Gill Martin Gill Martin on Dec 30, 2016

    my son removed the marks cause by a hot plate with salt and olive oil. He added half teaspoon of salt to the mark and used the oil to gentley rub [ in circles to remove the mark. Much more gentle than steel wool!!

  • Patricia Patricia on Dec 30, 2016

    I've used just oil and vinlager. Equal parts in a bottle pour on spots and rub with a soft cloth. I did this to vintage teak dressers that had scratches and water marks. Most of the scratches disappeared and the water stains lightened considerably. Was very satisfied, I even have used this on old wood floors with amazing results.

  • Its6268865 Its6268865 on Dec 30, 2016

    I've had good luck in removing watermarks with WD 40.

  • Mto11305602 Mto11305602 on Dec 30, 2016

    I just refinished my mothers table from 1910 because I had the same thing. First I took a little Denatured Alcohol to the finish to see what the finish was in a hidden spot ( I used one of the table leafs ) then when it started to almost melt

    ( the finish started to come off ) I knew it was a shellac so what I did was clean the whole table with mineral spirits then took a 320 grit sandpaper to my Palm Sander and gave it a lite sand I was able to hook my shop vac to my sander so there was no dust in the house at all then took a vac to the table to suck up any left over dust then cleaned it again with mineral spirits and took a real good brush and went and bought a Quart Can of Zinsser Shellac ( Menards,

    Home Depot carry this ) and put a coat on it. It worked awesome. I put a couple coats on it and it looks just the way it was when it was new. This works for Shellac the rest you might not get it out like your thinking. Good Luck

  • Mto11305602 Mto11305602 on Dec 30, 2016

    Here are a few pictures

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  • Janet Louks Hustek Janet Louks Hustek on Dec 31, 2016

    What a gorgeous finish on the table. Great job.

  • Annette Garcia Annette Garcia on Dec 31, 2016


  • Sandra Sandra on Dec 31, 2016

    Use a hair dryer on the water marks. Or that Amish stuff works too.

  • Alma Alma on Dec 31, 2016

    You might want to try smooth peanut butter. Rub it on the table top, wait a few seconds, rub it off. If needed, repeat. Worked on an oak dining table this week.

  • Sherry Swayze Sherry Swayze on Dec 31, 2016

    Those water marks aka white rings, are caused from placing a hot object on a waxed surface. The heat melts the wax and when it cools, it leaves that white ring. Once you know that, it makes it easier to know what to do to fix the problem. The finish, meaning the stain, is actually still there. You just need to buff out the wax. Any wax remover will work. That's why all the homemade solutions (above) calling for a light abrasion followed by oil, work. Frankly, even cigarette ashes and/or toothpaste, which surprisingly have some abrasion factors to them, work in removing the white wax rings. They just take a little time to work. We just rub either of those materials into the spot using our finger tips. The heat of the hand seems to help heat up the wax to make it easier to remove.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sherry Swayze Sherry Swayze on Jan 03, 2017

      No problem! Your particular table reminds me of what my son did in his youth, to his first dining room table. He was thrilled to have his first Thanksgiving feast at his new home. He used his dining table to spread out all the food. In his mind, to protect the table, he put a piece of plastic on the table and then put the table cloth over it, thinking the table cloth and plastic would protect the finish on the table. It produced the opposite effect. When he took the table cloth and plastic off, he saw that the hot food and occasional liquid that had spilled on the table cloth had created steam under the plastic, which melted much of the wax finish. The entire table top was damp and the finish had melted off creating a white cloud over most of the table top. Hard lesson learned for him! lol

  • Karen Karen on Dec 31, 2016

    I had a water stain from a wet glass, left on table overnight, I placed a T shirt over the stain and used a hot clothes iron, kept going over the stain, constantly moving the iron over the area, the water stain was removed in minuets.

  • Susie Lee Susie Lee on Jan 01, 2017

    I've had success with water spots using a paste of baking soda and white (not gel) toothpaste and rubbing vigorously with a soft cloth. If the water stain is too deep it won't work, but it's worth a shot before going the refinishing route. Good luck!

  • Julie Moyna Julie Moyna on Jan 01, 2017

    My client had borrowed a large dining table from a friend and to give back only to find under the table cloth rings and white spots from cups and such. She called me panicked and I was so happy to help. I searched HT and found a few posts and I too used the iron method. I used a piece of old clean drop cloth and was beyond relieved and excited that it worked! I didn't charge her because I had not tried it but she was so pleased that she surprised me with a nice PayPal deposit! Here is the pics. Happy New Year and happy hometalking!

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  • Dawn Jones Dawn Jones on Jan 01, 2017

    make a paste with cigarette ash & with water, rub it over affected area

  • Dawn Jones Dawn Jones on Jan 03, 2017

    You are very welcome

  • Christina Yates Christina Yates on Jan 03, 2017

    I agree, I used cigarette ash on a highly polished table to remove white heat marks successfully, in the past I had no trouble getting ash, my dad and ex smoked but neither my husband nor I smoke now, would have to ask around!!

  • Lissa Dirrim Lissa Dirrim on Jan 03, 2017

    paste of baking soda rubbed in with an old sheet. wipe off with a damp cloth and rub a good furniture polish with oil and bees wax in it over the burnished area. Finish a gentle hairdryer treatment.

  • Monika Rani Monika Rani on Oct 03, 2017

    Mustard oil you will be apply directly on the table and rubbing with cotton

  • Monika Rani Monika Rani on Oct 03, 2017

    Warnish oil it is use in furniture polishing ,apply directly this oil in the stain

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Jan 31, 2022[]=watermark%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=from%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=wooden%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=table%7Ctyped those solutions

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 28, 2022

    If allelse fai;s, just before you give up, try rubbing metal polish on ti the marks , working in small circles. It did it for me where a table had lost some of its finish due to water ingress that had dried out!

  • Vinita Elaine Wernke Vinita Elaine Wernke on Jul 17, 2023

    I use bees wax. Simply rub it into the spot and it disappears like magic and surface has a new waxed layer that shines like a brand new table.

  • Annie Annie on Aug 29, 2023

    Or this video!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 14, 2023

    Iron out - NO STEAM - Husband pressed his trousers on Gran-ma's best table and left trouser marks. I removed by dry ironing over with a clean piece of sheet. It dried it out. Took more than one go, because I was frightened to do more damage, but returned like new in the end! Happy Gran-ma again!

  • Deb K Deb K on Nov 14, 2023

    Hi Nakeisha, hope this helps you.

    A hair dryer

    Put your hair dryer on its lowest setting and direct it at the water ring. be sure to move the dryer around so there is no direct heat and the wood doesn't overheat,

    Mayonnaise or petroleum jelly

    Apply a dab of either substance with a soft cloth and rub it into the mark in a circular motion. "If the stain is not removed completely, apply more product and leave on for an hour or two and try again."


    Look for one that's non-gel and non-whitening, then apply it to the wood in the same direction as the grain, says Fierman. Remove the paste, then use a wood polish to make the surface shine.

    Steel wool—you don't want to scratch your table. Use it to gently rub lemon oil in the wood in the direction of the grain. Tread carefully and do not go beyond the confines of the stain or you can further damage the finish

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 15, 2023

    Dip a microfiber cloth in a bit of mayonnaise. Dab the mayonnaise onto the stain, continuously wiping the spot clean as you work. For stubborn stains, let the mayonnaise sit for about two hours. Once the stain has lifted, apply natural wood cleaner to a microfiber cloth and wipe clean.

  • Try rubbing in a little olive oil.