How to Get Rid of Water Stains on Wood

Water stains on wood are unsightly and irritating, but you don’t have to live with them forever if you don’t want to. Water rings from a glass, rain drops that snuck in through an open window, and drips from your kitchen sink can all lead to ugly water stains on your wooden window sills, tables, and cabinets. Here’s how to get rid of these water stains so you can get your home looking beautiful once again.

Unfinished wood

For wood that is bare and unfinished, you can remove water stains using something called oxalic acid, which can be found in many hardware and DIY stores. Oxalic is very strong and very poisonous, so make sure you keep kids and pets away from it while using the material.

Add two tablespoons of oxalic acid to eight ounces of water and mix. Dampen a sponge with the solution, then gently wipe it across the stain. Let the liquid dry and repeat if necessary to remove stubborn stains. Remember to use protection (gloves, goggles) to protect yourself while using this one.

Treated wood (furniture, window sills, etc.)

The best way to beat water stains is to prevent them, so as soon as you see standing water on your wooden surface, blot up the excess and then use either a hair dryer or a dry clothes iron and a piece of cotton cloth (like a handkerchief) to iron over the stain until it has dried. This may prevent any actual stain from forming in the first place.

If prevention wasn’t successful, treat water stains with oil and ash. Use something like mayonnaise or petroleum jelly combined with ash (if you don’t have any ash, just use the mayo/petroleum jelly alone) to force the remaining moisture up and out of the wood. Dab the gooey mixture on a cloth, then rub it into the stain.

Dark stains call for a different approach. On these, try plain white toothpaste and a toothbrush. Scrub the stain with a dab of toothpaste and work around the stain until it’s gone. Don’t press too hard, though, or you risk damaging the surface of the wood with the toothbrush.

Visit the Windows Plus blog regularly for great tips on keeping your wooden doors and windows looking great.
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