by Dorothy Carter December 16, 2021 4 min read

a glass of beer making water stain on a wooden table

Let's face it - it is no coincidence that coasters exist. Water damage can be quite a demanding issue, one that can affect your property's or furniture condition big time. If left unresolved, the damage to your belongings and living space could even become irreparable. Not to mention it could cause the development of mold, which significantly ruins your property's air quality, thus endangering the occupants' health. In sum, be sure to fix water damage on wood safely and promptly.

You might not make much of the first few water stains that you encounter. However, try not to neglect or postpone these and similar water damage repairs. Over time, you will wind up with so many water stains it won't be possible to repair anything anymore.

It makes sense to fix water-damaged surfaces, elements, and furniture in your household as soon as possible rather than replace it whenever they get stained. This kind of attitude will save you money and help you live a more sustainable life. So, read on to find out how to go about it.

Coasters exist for a reason.

What is water damage exactly?

A coffee cup on a table with a cloud-like water stain.

Wooden furniture can definitely bring more positive energy into your home, but you need to know how to take care of it properly. Water stains are a milder form of water damage. They show up on the wood as a white or light-colored circle or cloud-like, scattered spot. This means that the moisture is not trapped in the wood's finish. So, you are still able to backtrack the damage successfully!

However, if the stain is black or dark-colored, you might need to hire a professional to do the refinishing and save the wood.

Remove water stains as soon as you find the time. 

You can fix water damage on wood with a clothes iron

The first method we will describe involves a clothes iron to evaporate the moisture. However, this trick can help you do this only if the stain is 'fresh'.

First of all, you need to empty and dry the water that might have remained in the iron. Besides a working iron, you also need a towel or a dry cotton fabric such as an old T-shirt or a napkin. Make sure the cotton fabric of your choice is not too thick or ripped.

The clothes iron method - step by step

Set the iron to the lowest heat setting available. While the iron is heating up, lay the cotton fabric of your choice over the stain. Take the clothes iron once it is hot and put it on the material for a few seconds. Lift the fabric and assess if the water stain has disappeared. You might need to repeat this process a few times for the stain to vanish completely.

If you do not have a clothes iron, do not worry. You can achieve almost the same effect with a hairdryer, although the process might take up to 10-15 minutes. You should not touch the cotton fabric with the dryer as it could catch fire or cause more damage to the wood surface.

Remove water damage with the help of mayonnaise

The first method may not produce the expected results, or you do not own the appliances mentioned above. In that case, you might turn to a slightly unconventional substance that is located in your fridge - mayonnaise.

Although it might be hard to imagine mayonnaise as helpful in this context, try to restrain your disbelief for a moment. Since mayonnaise is predominantly oil, it is actually a nifty way to dislodge the moisture trapped in the finish. If you do not have any mayonnaise at the moment, you could use petroleum jelly instead.

However, be sure to first test whether this method works before you attempt to clean the stains off your designer table. Basically, if it does not work on your ‘test stain’, then it does not matter how much mayonnaise you slather over it.

The mayonnaise method - step by step

Put the mayonnaise onto a clean cloth. Be sure not to go overboard- a little will do. Put the fabric directly onto the stain and keep it there overnight or for at least a couple of hours. Reapply another layer if the first coating dries out without removing the stain.

If you notice the stain is disappearing with this method, you might want to speed up the process by adding cigarette ash to the mayo before you apply it to the stain. Essentially, the abrasiveness of the ashes helps the mayonnaise oil increase its absorbency. 

The sooner you fix water stains, the better

This stain removal method is particularly convenient if you need to act quickly. So, for example, if you are moving out of your place, you might notice that your wood furniture has a few water stains. As it usually goes, you might have already packed and sealed smaller household appliances such as your clothes iron.

This is where mayonnaise might come to the rescue. The longer the stain remains, the harder it will be to clean it. Therefore, it's advisable to take care of the water stains before the big move and before you begin packing your wooden furniture. This is also a great solution if you plan to store your wooden items, as you want to protect every piece and ensure it serves you well even after you take it out of the storage unit.

Fix water damage on wood with white toothpaste

If the previous two methods fail you, then head on down to the bathroom and grab your toothpaste. But, for this to work, you need to procure white, non-gel toothpaste. 

The procedure resembles the ones we have already described. Be sure to massage the toothpaste onto the stain - do not scrub! This method is a bit stronger and more invasive than the other two.

A damaged wooden table surface.

Scrubbing the wooden surface can do more harm than good.

You could damage the wood even more if you use harsh scrubbing movements for a longer period of time. Stay focused on the stained portions of the wooden surfacewhen you apply the toothpaste. As innocuous as it may seem, toothpaste can wear away the top finish and damage the surface of the object rather than fix water damage on wood. For this reason, you need to make sure you are treating only the stains, not around them.