Today’s Reader Question concerns how to fix water stains on wood, and whether it’s possible to get rid of oil stains on wood, too.
I have two questions. My husband put a hot coffee cup on our wooden bedside table, and it has left a white mark that I can’t get off. Any suggestions?
Also, oil marks from a coconut oil bottle have stained my vanity table. I desperately want to fix this because it was my great grandmother’s vanity table/mirror made by my great-grandfather. I love your Facebook page, by the way! It’s fantastic!
Thank you so much for your time,
Now on to the important stuff.
When dealing with water or oil stains on wood, we fix them by using the opposite stuff. That is, to remove water rings we’ll use something oil-based, and to remove oil stains we’ll use something water-based. And sometimes we need to use heat, so be sure to read these instructions in their entirety before trying them out, and always test in an inconspicuous spot first!
Fix Water Stains on Wood
The Oil Method
- Mayonnaise (the full-fat kind) or olive oil
- Warm, damp microfiber cloth
- Dry, lint-free cloth
- A piece of plastic wrap larger than the stain
- Wipe the surface with the dry cloth to remove any dust and debris.
- Using the corner of the microfiber cloth, work mayo or oil onto the ring. Rub it in, and take care not to get it on non-hazy spots.
- Place the plastic wrap over the mayo and let this sit overnight.
- The next day, wipe the mayo or oil off with a warm, damp microfiber cloth. Rinse and repeat until the greasy film is gone.
- Buff the area with a dry lint-free cloth.
If the ring is still there, you’ll want to try the heat-based method (below).
The Heat Method
It is very important that you follow these instructions precisely or you may damage your furniture so much that it can only be fixed by stripping and refinishing. That said, I’ve used this with great success — just be sure to watch the timer! This process uses the heat of an iron to transfer the water stain’s moisture from the wood to dry cloths.
- An iron
- Two clean cotton dish or hand-towels
- Place the towels over the stain and press down with a hot iron using NO STEAM for 15-20 seconds.
- Lift, check the stain, and repeat if needed.
Fix Oil Stains On Wood
Counteract the oil with a water-based solution like the one below.
- One cup warm water
- One scoop oxygenated bleach (like Oxyclean)
- Soft bristled brush
- Microfiber cloths
- Mix the oxygenated bleach into the warm water.
- Using the corner of a microfiber cloth, wipe it onto the oil stain. Do NOT saturate the area, or you’ll just create a water stain!
- Use the soft bristled brush to work the oxygenated solution into the stain.
- Wipe clean and repeat the steps as necessary until the stain is gone.
It’s not hard to fix water stains on wood, or even oil spots, so I always recommend giving these methods a try before going to all of the trouble of sanding. I hate sanding.