How Do I Clean Water Marks From My Kitchen Cabinets?

Oh, the dreaded white water mark stains on wood cabinets--what a nightmare, or so we've heard. Traditionally, it has been thought that refinishing was necessary for wood cabinets with water marks, but there are effective methods of removing water marks. They can be removed with the right strategy, materials and application.

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Polish Water Stains Away

A quick and simple fix for many cabinets with water stains is an application of paste wax such as Brimax paste wax, a blend of beeswax, carnauba and petroleum, or Harrell's Jecowax Beeswax Blend. Using a clean cloth, apply the paste wax as directed and then wipe the cabinet surface to clean and shine.

Another good option is Homax Jasco White Ring Remover, which comes packaged with a towel for applying the stain remover and works well on many water stains.

Homemade Water Stain Remover

To remove water marks from your cabinets with a homemade solution, combine 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise with 1 or 2 teaspoons of wood ash and mix well. Using a clean cloth, massage the mixture over the water marks. For extensive water staining, spread the mixture to cover the water stains and leave for one to two hours. Using a clean cloth, wipe the area clean and then polish. For stubborn water marks, massage the mixture on the surface while heating the area with a blow dryer.

Another quick homemade fix that often works on cabinets with water stains is accomplished with a cotton cloth and an iron. Place a smooth, clean cloth over the water stain and briefly touch the cloth with a hot iron. Lift the cloth to check the stain area and repeat the heat application until the stain disappears.

Stubborn Water Marks

If you have tried removing water stains from your kitchen cabinets only to find that the marks are faded but still visible, try a tactic that can be used on cabinets without a shellac finish. Using a 100 percent cotton cloth, wipe the stain quickly in a touch-and-go fashion with denatured alcohol. This process must be done carefully and completed with a cloth that is damp but not saturated with the denatured alcohol. Pass the cloth quickly over the water stain several times directing your strokes against the wood grain in an effort to evaporate the moisture while leaving the cabinet finish intact. When the marks are gone, buff the area with a wax polish to return a glow to your kitchen cabinets.