The Genius Hack for Removing Water Stains from Your Wood Tables

Updated: Feb. 03, 2023

Your wood furniture doesn't have to stay stained! This quick TikTok hack shows you how to remove water stains from wood with minimal effort required.

Even the most careful of homeowners can find themselves with unsightly water stains on their wood tables. Unfortunately, it’s easy enough to create an unwanted water stain. If you forget to use coasters when drinking from sweating glasses or accidentally spill and don’t clean it all up, you might see a cloudy white stain or ring appear.

You might think a quick wipe-down with a cloth and furniture polish could do the trick when it comes to cleanup, but there’s a genius hack that’ll remedy the water stain instead of just trying your luck.

How to Remove Water Marks from Wood Tables

This cleaning hack for removing water stains comes from TikTok, where creators are never shy to share their cleaning hacks via the #CleanTok community. It’s unclear where the cleaning hack originated, but a few TikTok users like @fhmslmz and @creative_explained shared the tip as far back as June 2022. The hack appears to have had a resurgence in popularity after TikTok creator @cleaningwithgabie posted a video of the brilliant cleaning tip.

@fhmslmz Remove water stain from wood table#TopGunMode #diy ♬ My Money Don’t Jiggle Jiggle, It Folds – MADAX

Instead of grabbing a random cleaner to try to remedy the situation, all you’ll need to remove those pesky water stains is a cloth (or any sort of plain fabric free of screen prints or designs), an iron and some water.

To start, make sure you’ve emptied any water from your iron’s tank. Then, plug it in and set it on the lowest setting. Get your cloth damp but not saturated—you just want a bit of moisture. When you’re ready, put the damp cloth over the water mark and press the iron over the cloth. Keep the cloth over the stain and iron it repeatedly until you see the spot is gone. Voila! It’s that simple.

More Tips and Tricks for Removing Water Marks from Wood Tables

If you’re a little skittish about the ironing technique, here are some other tips on how to remove water stains from wood tables.

  • Use a cloth and rub the stain with a solvent. Try mineral spirits first, which works well if your wood furniture has a wax coating. Your water stain may only be wax-deep, and mineral spirits will remove the stained wax without harming your furniture.
  • If mineral spirits don’t work, try rubbing some denatured alcohol on an inconspicuous spot on the furniture. This is to make sure it doesn’t damage your finish. If all looks good, use the alcohol on the spot, but stop every so often to ensure you aren’t doing damage to the finish. This process is a slow one, though usually effective, as the denatured alcohol draws out the trapped moisture.
  • Make a paste with 1 tablespoon each of baking soda and water. Rub this in a circular motion on the spot until it disappears.
  • Another way to remove water stains from wood is to put some petroleum jelly on the water spot and let it sit overnight, then wipe the spot away in the morning.

For your other stain-removing projects, check out these handy hints for removing hard-to-remove stuff.

Tip for Preventing Water Marks on Wood Tables

Water marks happen sometimes, but the easiest way to be rid of them is to prevent them from happening. Save your expensive wood furniture by taking these preventative measures.

  • Use coasters effectively: Make sure you have them easily accessible on your table and arrange them for guests before serving them a drink.
  • Apply a protective sealer such as lacquer or varnish: Varnish is a mixture of resin, drying oil and solvent, which when applied, forms a thin, protective layer and gives your furniture a glossy finish. Lacquer is also resin-based and is very stain-resistant. You can apply lacquer with a low-pressure spray system (available at a hardware store), while varnish can be painted on.
  • Use a tablecloth or placemats: This might sound simple, but any protective fabric covering can help keep those pesky water marks away.
  • Look for spill-resistant wood finishes: A favorite wood that’s fairly resistant to water, thanks to its natural oils, is cypress wood.

Still fighting difficult stains and spills in other areas of your home? Take a look at our ultimate stain removal guide.