How to Remove Water Stains from Wood


Terri asked: How do I remove water stains from a Lundby Doll House? I think it is a wood-based material.

Water stains can be quite difficult to remove from wood.  What’s more, several factors come into play:  the type of wood, the type of stain, and the finish of the wood, if any.  Because of an almost endless combination of these variables it’s almost impossible to give one solution that will work for any type of wood.  The following technique, however, has consistently worked for many types of white water stains.  (Please note:  The steps presented below are for removing water stains from finished wood.  If you have water stains on raw, unfinished wood, please review the additional tips and advice for suggestions.)

You Will Need:

  • Iron or Hair dryer
  • Cloth napkin or old T-shirt

Steps to Remove the Water Stain:

  1. Set the iron to warm (not hot) and allow it to heat.
  2. Lay the cloth napkin or tee shirt over the water stain.
  3. Iron the stain through the cloth for 5-10 seconds, then remove the heat for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Repeat as necessary, buffing lightly with the cloth after every 2-3 heat cycles.
  5. A hair dryer may used instead of the iron.  Set it to medium heat and hold 2-4 inches from the stain.  Buff the stain with the napkin or tee shirt as you heat the wood.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Relatively new stains should come out quite nicely.  Older stains are harder to remove, but you should see a remarkable improvement
  • If you are working with unfinished wood, try lightly sanding the surface to lighten the stain.  If that is impossible or doesn’t work, try a solution of mild detergent and water.  Wipe, then blot and allow to air dry.
  • Other well known methods that may work on finished wood to remove stains are an application of mayonnaise or peanut butter.  Apply a thick layer and leave over the stain for at least four hours (preferably overnight) then wipe clean.
  • After taking steps to remove a stain from finished wood, always apply a good coat of furniture polish and buff thoroughly.  Even if you were unsuccessful at stain removal, you want to reapply that protective coat to prevent further damage.


  1. Phyllis says:

    You can also remove water with a paper towel. Then, use a small amount of mayonnaise on the area. Let set for just a minute or two and then rub the area. The mayonnaise is also a good polisher for your wood surface.

  2. Vivienne says:

    My cat was sick on my wooden sideboard. I cleaned it, but it has left a stain like it has taken the colour out of it. Would you know how I can get it back to normal please?

    Check it out! We’ve answered your question! Yay!

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