How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

How To Remove Water Stains From WoodWhen you or your child spills a hot cup of coffee or any other liquid on your wooden furniture, don’t panic. You’re probably wondering how to remove water stains from wood. Usually, you can make your furniture get back its pristine self very easily. The first thing to check is the extent of damage, something evident in the water mark or the color of the stain.

Usually, stains made by steam or liquid marks are light in colour. This proves that they haven’t penetrated the wood or gone through its waxed surface. But when the stain is dark, it means it has gone through the wood finish and has reached the heart of the wood. This presents a problem like nothing else.

For light-coloured stains, you can rub the stain with mayonnaise, petroleum jelly or oil-based furniture polish. If the stain persists, rub the stain with a little toothpaste on damp cloth till it disappears. Else, make a paste of toothpaste and baking soda and rub it on the stain.

How to remove dark water stains from wood

When you see dark black stains on wooden furniture, you know they are due to water. The stain forms when trace particles of iron in the water combine with tannis in the wood to create a dark water stain. It’s more like a rust stain, best removed with Oxalic Acid.

How to use it

Sprinkle Oxalic Acid in a mixing bowl and make a thick paste using water. You can do a test patch to be sure it works, but normally it works well. Use a paint brush to cover the stain entirely and wait till it dries out.

Now, top it up with another coat. You might need to apply a few coats, and with each coat, you’ll find the stain lightening. However, if you don’t see any difference even after a few coats, perhaps the stain has been caused by food or wine. In this case, the stain is best removed using bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

How to remove old water stains from wood

Dark stains form on wooden flooring when water spots or urine have been left untreated for long. Once it dries, it is usually difficult to have a spotless floor. You could, of course, always stain the floor a darker shade, but the dark spots will still be seen. You can treat the stain, depending on its cause. These are:

  1. Wear safety goggles and rubber gloves. Soak steel wool with some mineral spirits and rub the stains with it, and allow it to dry.
  2. Rub the floor with a cloth soaked in vinegar and allow it to rest for some time. Repeat this procedure if the stain fades after 30 minutes. Continue this procedure until the stain vanishes entirely.
  3. Mix equal parts of water and household bleach and apply to the stain. Apply the mix to the stain with a clean cloth and wait for a few minutes for the stain to fade. Repeat until it goes away entirely.
  4. Use fine-grit sandpaper and sand down the stained area. Vacuum the area to remove all dust accumulated on the floor.
  5. Match a stain with the floor, using a rag. Let it remain for about 15 minutes and wipe away any excess stain.
  6. Let the floor dry completely and then apply floor wax on the treated area. Use the same finish as you did for the remaining flooring.

Here’s another method that works very effectively to get rid of old water or liquid stains on your wooden furniture. When any liquid goes through wax and polish and reaches the finish or the heart of the wood, you could find small cracks in the wood.

To reach these cracks, it’s best to first strip the wood of finish by using oxalic acid crystals, furniture stripper, or a laundry bleach. Here’s how you go about this method:

  1. Boil water and melt the oxalic crystals in it. Immediately, place the melted oxalic acid on the furniture surface. If using liquid laundry bleach, let it dry until it looks powdery and then wash the area well with water. Repeat the procedure if the stain doesn’t go away entirely. Take care to rinse the area well between coats to get rid of any dried oxalic acid on the wood surface.
  2. If you have bare wood, sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper. Wipe the wood surface using a tack-cloth so that no loose particles remain. You must be very sure that all small particles have been removed, or the surface will be spoilt and you will feel the crunch under your foot once the finish dries completely. Choose a light stain that goes well with your furniture’s stain and apply it. Leave it to dry. If the colour of the stain still does not match your furniture, continue the above steps till the colour seems right.


Don’t be disheartened by the liquid spills in your wooden furniture. With this info on how to remove water stains from wood, you can restore it and continue to enjoy it.

Author: John Clax

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