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How to Remove Stains In Wood Furniture

A wet glass on fine furniture can create a white ring that no amount of cleaning erases. Before you resort to paint stripper, try rubbing it with one of these solvents.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Moisten a soft rag with mineral spirits

Spilled water or a wet glass can leave a white stain on wood furniture. Often, complete stripping and refinishing are the only solution. But there are two solvents that can sometimes remove water marks in a few minutes without harming the finish. Both solvents give off nasty fumes, so work outside in a well-ventilated area. If you think the piece might be especially old or valuable, consult an antiques dealer before trying these remedies.

First, rub the stain with a soft rag dipped in mineral spirits. If the original finish has a coating of wax over it, there’s a good chance that only the wax has turned white. Mineral spirits removes wax without harming the underlying finish. Have patience; the mineral spirits may take a few minutes to soften the wax. If the stain disappears but leaves the rubbed area looking dull, clean the entire surface with mineral spirits and apply a new coat of furniture wax.

If mineral spirits doesn’t work, gently wipe the stain using a soft rag lightly dampened with denatured alcohol. Alcohol can damage some finishes, so test it on an inconspicuous spot first. Stop every minute or so to examine the finish to make sure you’re not damaging it. Again, have patience. Sometimes alcohol can draw out moisture that’s trapped in the finish, but it works slowly. If you don’t see any results after five minutes, refinishing is the only way to remove the mark.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

You'll need soft rags and rubber gloves.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Mineral spirits
    • Denatured alcohol
    • Furniture wax

Comments from DIY Community Members

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July 21, 6:18 PM [GMT -5]

I have always wanted to know how to remove the stain from my mom's hand me down furniture that I wanted to preserve.
Thanks for the tip very handy.
RC DIY in BKLYN

January 22, 11:24 AM [GMT -5]

I had a problem where we put a steamer on a coffee table ( I had a cold and the
steam helped) .. but later found out that the steamer had set in a stain like this
on the table.

I think I scrubbed for weeks but it didn't help for that one... depends on how much
it's set it and what caused it.

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How to Remove Stains In Wood Furniture

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