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Funny or functional: Trying out tips to remove water marks on wood

Finding out how to get water rings out of wood by exploring some of the weird and wonderful suggested methods.


glasses of water on wood

Key steps

  1. Dab up any moisture as soon as you see it
  2. Apply your chosen treatment to the area
  3. Leave for a few hours then remove
  4. Buff the wood with a clean cloth for a professional finish.

If you’ve left a wet cup on a wooden table, you might find some weird tips online for getting water stains out of wood. It can be tricky knowing which ones to trust, and which ones could potentially make a water stain on wood worse. To help you sort the helpful from the just down-right strange we’ve gone through some of the suggested methods of removing water stains from wood. Here’s what we found.

Always patch test a technique on a hidden place before applying it to the whole area.

How do you know that the surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom have been disinfected?

Method 1: removing water marks on wood with baking soda

This technique uses an old house-cleaning favourite: baking soda.

  • Make a paste using one tablespoon of baking soda to one teaspoon of water
  • Lightly rub the paste onto the stain in a circular motion
  • The stain should start to disappear

Our verdict: This method could work, but the risk is it also involves water. Use too much in your paste and you’re likely to create more stains and not remove the watermark from wood, so be very careful. Find out more about cleaning with baking soda here.


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Method 2: removing water marks on wood with petroleum jelly

Another potential option when it comes to how to get water rings out of wood is to use petroleum jelly.

  • Wipe it over water marks in the evening and let it sit overnight.
  • In the morning, wipe the jelly away with a clean cloth.

Our verdict: This technique makes a lot of sense, because petroleum jelly is similar in substance to some wood varnishes. It’s best to use this on naturally furnished wooden items rather than painted ones and make sure to do a patch test in an inconspicuous place first.

Method 3: using mayonnaise for water stains on wood

One of the stranger methods for removing water marks involves using mayonnaise for water stains on wood. Yep, that tasty condiment more likely to be found on your chips.

  • This technique is generally advised for more recent stains, so make sure to dab any water up first.
  • Apply a layer of mayonnaise using a paper cloth or spatula.
  • Leave overnight and remove first thing the next morning
  • Buff the area thoroughly with a clean cloth to finish the process.

Our verdict: Again, this isn’t as strange as it sounds seeing mayonnaise is mostly made up of oil, which also the main ingredient in wood polishes. The only worry here is smell. Like any food, mayonnaise contains various substances that have the potential to go rancid. As such, this is probably not the best technique to use in hot climates or rooms with limited ventilation.

Those are three interesting, different options when it comes to getting water stains out of wood. Whatever you try, be very careful not to increase or exacerbate the stain with your method of removal. If in doubt, consult specialist wood cleaners.

Originally published