Remove White Spots on Wood

Get rid of white marks on table

If the white stains were caused by heat or moisture, e.g., iron, hot dish or wet glass, try this inexpensive fix using common materials found in the home.  Supplies to remove white stains and watermarks from wood furniture:

  • Toothpaste (no gels)
  • Baking Soda
  • Soft Cloth (2)
  • Water
  • Olive or some other kind of cooking oil.

Instructions to Remove White Wood Stains:

  1. Squirt a little white toothpaste on your hand or in a small, shallow dish. If you have one mark, use a pea size dab. Use more if you have many blemishes.
  2. Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (for each stain) on top of the toothpaste and mix.
  3. Dab a baby wipe or moist cloth into the goop and gently rub the stain back and forth. Make sure to rub in the direction of the grain.
  4. Rinse with a clean, moist cloth and refresh the cloth until all residue of the baking soda and toothpaste is gone. Do not drench your furniture.
  5. Finish with a dab of olive oil (any cooking oil with do) on a moist cloth, again wiping in the direction of the grain of the wood.

Get rid of white marks on table

Remove white stains on coffee tableWhy does toothpaste and baking soda work?

First of all, the finish on the wood is probably thin or wearing out and is not repelling moisture. Moisture gets into the waxy top layer and sits there, causing the white stain. New stains can be heated to release the moisture (see iron method below). Older stains may require an abrasive to open the area up a bit. Toothpaste is a mild abrasive and is thick enough to make rubbing it on easy and a cinch to clean up. Baking soda is also abrasive and adds another level of strength to the solution without being too harsh. Just make sure not to rub too long or too hard with any material to prevent damage to your furniture. Short, gentle sessions work best. Depending the age of the piece, consider refinishing it to prevent white marks in the future.

Other options:

Disclaimer: I am not a furniture care professional and cannot be held responsible for damaged furniture as a result of the proper or improper use of this method. Please do not send me the bill to replace your 1970’s yellow oak coffee table. Thank you 🙂

  • Plain white toothpaste 
  • Ashes 
  • Mayonnaise (It’s oily and may help but haven’t used it.)
  • Warm iron through a towel, t-shirt or wax paper. It helps remove condensation. If you give this a shot use the iron on a low setting. Keep the iron moving for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat 3 times.
  • Baking soda and water.
  • Salt and water (Seems too abrasive to me – I have not tried this.)
  • Oil or petroleum jelly. (I tried this and it didn’t take out the white stains.)
  • “Magic” eraser blocks (These pads work by sanding down the surface just slightly and although I think they correct issues on painted surfaces very well I’m not a fan of this method for white rings on wood.)
  • Hair dryer – Heat the area about 6″ away and rub with a moist cloth until the stain disappears. Keep the hairdryer moving. 

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