How to Get Rid of Water Stains on Your Wooden Table Like Magic

I tested out an Internet hack and it really worked.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

Hello, hi! First-time nice wooden table owner here. When I moved into my new apartment a year and a half ago, I shelled out for a gorgeous, ~expensive~ wooden dining table. The investment felt worth it. Cut to life a few months later, when I ordered a late-night pizza and put the hot box straight onto the middle of the table without a trivet. (I mean, have you ever seen someone use a trivet for a pizza box? Not I.)

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

I was horrified when I moved the pizza box later and saw that the steam had left a large white foggy mark on the table. If I could ruin a nice wood table that easily, what’s the point of owning one? Luckily, I found a hack online that magically eliminated the stain — and now I’ve used it time and time again whenever a guest puts down a water glass that leaves a mark.

It involves ironing a dishtowel over the watermark — yep, I was surprised too. The technique only works on new-ish white-colored watermarks that have been there for just a few days. (If your watermark looks dark, like the wood has blackened, this technique will not work. That darkness indicates substantial wood damage.) The idea is that iron gently evaporates trapped water in the wood that’s causing the white mark.

I’ve outlined the hack below in detail, but before you go ironing your table willy-nilly, take heed. This technique works on all types of wood except for furniture with a hard, glossy lacquer. Lacquer is tricky because water damage simply eats through the lacquer and an iron can’t fix this problem. You also might want to test this technique on an obscure spot on the piece of furniture before you try it the stain — we are applying some heat here, so not all pieces might react well.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

All right, now that you’ve diagnosed your watermark and table, here’s how to get rid of that watermark once and for all. See, here's the after photo. No damage in sight!

  1. Heat the iron on low heat.
  2. Put a clean cotton dishtowel down on the watermark.
  3. Gently iron the dishtowel for a few seconds, moving it continuously. Check the watermark. Repeat until the mark disappears.
  4. If the mark is slowly disappearing and you want to speed it up, you can spritz the towel with water from the spray bottle and continue ironing.

Now that you’ve eliminated water stains, may I suggest investing in some new coasters and trivets?

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