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No matter how careful you are with coasters, water stains on wood furniture are bound to happen. But don’t panic! You can (probably) remove the stains with items you already have laying around your house. Here’s what you need to know: 

White Water Stains vs. Dark Water Stains

Take a look at the water ring. What color is it? If it’s light that’s a good sign: White water stains are much easier to remove, because the water has most likely only seeped into the wax or finish (in other words, the wood itself is safe). 

Darker stains mean the water has penetrated several layers and has reached the wood. Removing these stains is a much tougher job. Instead of tackling it yourself and risking permanent damage, you may want to contact a professional for help.

How to Remove White Water Stains at Home

Mayonnaise

Yes, mayo! Blot the stain with a paper towel as soon as you notice it, then slather a generous layer of mayonnaise over the area with a rubber spatula. Let it sit for a few hours (or, better yet, overnight) and then wipe it off — hopefully, the stain has magically disappeared.

This works well because mayonnaise is, at its core, just a tasty combination of lemon juice, oil, eggs, and vinegar. The fat and acids work together to draw out the water while giving the wood a boost of gentle, oily nourishment. 

Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly)

Petroleum jelly can gently penetrate the wood’s surface without damaging it, much like it does your skin. 

Blot the stain, then use a dry sponge or towel to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly. Let it stand overnight and wipe away in the morning. The jelly should’ve penetrated the surface and replaced the trapped water with oil. If you still see the stain, repeat the process.

Toothpaste

Try gently rubbing some white, non-gel toothpaste onto the stain with a dry rag or sponge. Be extra careful not to scrub too hard, as you don’t want to damage the wood. After about a minute of (gently!) rubbing in a circular motion in the same direction as the grain, the stain should start to lift. Wipe the excess toothpaste away with a clean rag. You may want to apply some furniture polish to give the area some shine. 

Steel Wool

Steel wool is effective at removing many kinds of stains, but you want to tread lightly when it comes to wood. Opt for the finest grade variety available so that you don’t permanently damage your furniture. Gently rub mineral oil into the stain using the steel wool, moving in the direction of the grain. 

Vinegar and Olive Oil

You can whip up a makeshift furniture polish with pantry staples you probably have on hand. Mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar. Using a dry rag or sponge, rub the oil-vinegar mixture into the stain, moving in the direction of the grain. Wipe the excess away with a clean cloth.