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How to Remove Water Stains from Wood

Water stains can make wood look unsightly. Find out how to remove water stains from wood with this easy-to-follow guide – read on for more information!


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Water is hardly a harsh chemical, but it can still badly stain home surfaces. In the bathroom and kitchen, removing water stains is a regular task; but if your ceiling has sprung a leak, or water has spilt on your table top one too many times, other approaches are necessary. This quick, handy guide explains how to remove water stains from wood, ceilings, and other types of household surfaces.

To remove water stains from the ceiling, try a diluted solution of household bleach – such as Domestos Thick Bleach*. But remember to carefully cover the floor and furniture below with an old sheet or newspaper – any drips could accidentally lighten a carpet or sofa! You should also wear protective clothing, and ensure the area is well ventilated.

Removing Water Stains from Glass and Metal

You’ll have noticed that water – especially in ‘hard water’ areas – leaves a build-up of white calcium deposits on glass and metal, otherwise known as limescale. It’s worth saving yourself time and effort by trying a commercial cleaner designed to tackle limescale on your shower doors and kitchen sinks. These are usually incredibly effective – just follow the instructions on the label to get the best results – but when it comes to removing water stains, you can improve the performance of any commercial cleaner by applying it properly. These tips explain the basics of returning a shine to your glass and metal surfaces.

  • Wipe off any residual product carefully. Just spraying a product on and swishing it around won’t necessarily leave you with a gleaming surface – wipe your surface or appliance down to avoid smears and ‘tide lines’ once your glass or metal is dry. If you’re working on windows, use a scrap of dry newspaper to buff them up to a real shine.

  • Use a good, clean cloth. It should go without saying that a build up of cleaning product and dust can make cloths ineffective, so pop them in the laundry regularly to ensure the best results.

  • Protect yourself! Your health is more important than getting a shiny worktop – look after your skin by wearing gloves, work in a well ventilated area, and use an apron to protect your clothes during the splashier tasks. Finally, always follow the safety instructions on the label of your chosen product carefully.

Removing Water Stains from Wood

Water stains on wood can be a little tricky to remove, but it is by no means impossible. Water stains will have a different appearance depending on how deep they are, and the finish of the wood they have damaged. White marks mean the water has only affected the surface or finish of the wood – these are easier to remove than dark water stains.

For surface water stains on wood, the following method is appropriate:

  1. Apply olive oil or an oil-based furniture polish directly on to the stain, and leave it to soak in overnight.

  2. If the mark remains, try vigorously rubbing white toothpaste into the stain.

  3. Wipe the surface clean and re-treat if necessary.

  4. To finish, apply an oil or wax-based furniture polish

To remove water stains from wood that have sunken into the surface, you will need to strip back the wood with sandpaper and allow it to completely dry out, before tackling the colour of the stain:

  • To make the stain lighter, very carefully apply a weak bleach solution, following the safety instructions on the label.

  • To make the stain darker, apply an appropriate wood stain, once again according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Then, match the finish to the rest of the wood using varnish or furniture wax.

Safety Warning

Do not swallow; do not mix with other detergents or chemicals, particularly cleaners. Mixing may generate toxic chlorine gas. Ensure adequate ventilation when using, vapour may be harmful. Strongly alkaline and corrosive. Attacks skin and eyes so avoid contact. May produce severe burns. Wear protective gloves and eye protection when mixing or using. Do not mix with hot water. Store upright below 25 degrees celsius. Rinse containers with water before disposal.

 *Domestos kills germs such as:

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

  • Escherichia coli

  • Staphylococcus aureus

  • Proteus vulgaris

How to Remove Water Stains on Ceiling Tiles & Plaster

It’s not only water stains on wood that can cause a problem! If you’ve had a burst pipe or a hole in the roof, there may be a water stain on the ceiling plaster or tiles as a result of the leak. It is essential to address the original problem before even thinking about how to remove the stain. The whole area must be completely dry before you can take the following steps to tackle the unsightly stain.

  1. Use a water and bleach solution to ‘disinfect’ and lighten the area of the stain. Domestos is a good choice, as its also known to kill mould, and help to prevent it from developing. Remember to mix the bleach according to the instructions on the label, and to follow any safety instructions.

  2. Paint an area slightly bigger than the stain with ‘stain blocking’ paint, and let it dry. This will keep the stain from remaining visible through a fresh coat of paint.

  3. Brush on a fresh coat of paint over the same area. If there is a noticeable difference between the tone of the new paint and the rest of the ceiling, you will need to paint the rest of the ceiling as well to make sure the finish is uniform.

So there you have it – when a leak threatens, you’ll no longer have to wonder how to remove stains from wood, glass, and other surfaces.

Originally published