How to Remove White Spots from Wood Furniture

White spots on wood furniture can happen to even the most careful of people, whether you cause the stain yourself or a guest causes the damage. Those white marks pop out against the brown wood grain, which hurts the overall appearance of your furniture. You can remove or at least minimize those white areas with items from around the house to get your furniture looking newer again.

Wooden dining table with chairs close up
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How to Remove White Spots from Wood Furniture

Causes of White Spots on Wood Furniture

Water and heat are often the culprits that cause white spots on wood furniture. When you place a glass or other wet item directly on wood, the moisture can get trapped under the finish, which causes the white appearance. Hot items such as a pizza box or hot pan placed on the wood can also cause white marks. Reversing the damage with multiple methods can help restore the finish with no permanent damage.

Applying Heat to Remove the Spots

It may seem like heat would cause more damage to your wood furniture, but it can actually get rid of the white marks for either type of stain. An iron or a hairdryer can provide the needed heat.

For the hairdryer method, you don't need a cloth. Simply set the dryer to the lowest setting and direct the hot air toward the white marks on the table. Keep the hairdryer moving over the white stains until they disappear.

For the iron method, remove any water that's inside the iron. Place a towel, T-shirt or other cloth over the stain. With the iron on a low heat setting, run it over the cloth for a short time. Lift the cloth to check the appearance of the white marks. Repeat the ironing process if necessary to get rid of the white marks.

Using the Toothpaste Method

Just like toothpaste helps remove gunk from your teeth, it can also help remove water stains from wood furniture. The type of toothpaste you want to use is a non-gel, creamy white type. Focusing only on the affected areas, gently rub the toothpaste on the white area for no more than a minute.

If you rub the toothpaste to unaffected areas of the wood furniture, it may remove the finish in those areas. Concentrate your efforts only on the damaged areas. Wipe away the toothpaste to check the results. You may need to try other methods to make the white marks fully disappear.

Applying Mayonnaise to Wood

Mayonnaise is a favorite condiment for many people, but it can pull double duty as a method of removing water marks from wood. It's all because of the oil in this sandwich topper. The oil can penetrate the finish and help get rid of the moisture that's trapped underneath the finish. Petroleum jelly is a good alternative.

To use this method, apply the mayo or petroleum jelly onto the white marks using a rag. Give the mayo time to work by leaving it on the white mark for an hour or longer, up to overnight. Wipe off the mayo and rub the area with a clean cloth to buff it out.

Using Steel Wool

If you still can't get the white stains to disappear completely, you can use an extra-fine-grade steel wool to help remove the stains without damaging the finish. Apply lemon oil or mineral oil to the steel wool and rub it on the stain in a back and forth motion, moving with the grain of the wood. The steel wool gently removes the finish in that area along with the white spots.

The oil added to the mix helps polish the area where you remove the finish. You can also use a paste wax to cover the area. Buff the area after applying the wax to help it look as good as new.


Shelley Frost

Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.