How to Remove White Watermarks from Wood Furniture

How to Remove White Watermarks from Wood Furniture

Let’s not beat around the bush here; white watermarks on wood furniture are an eyesore. They’re like a punishment to the coaster-refusing beverage drinkers of the world, and a not-so-subtle reminder that a sweating glass of ice-cold water should never touch wood. But alas, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t a prevalent problem, would we?

Watermarks occur when the moisture from a glass becomes trapped in the finish. This is when a white ring forms. Now, if you have dark rings, that means the moisture has reached the wood, which is a much bigger problem. These types of rings are the result of the moisture and wood having a chemical reaction, resulting in a different color of the ring you’ll see on the surface. If these are the types of rings on your wood furniture, it’s best to either refinish the furniture or contact a professional to take care of it.

Wood stain

Wood Watermark Eraser – The Safest Method

Aside from buying a simple wood watermark eraser, these four at-home concoctions are the perfect hacks for late night emergencies, money-conscious buyers and people who would just rather use what they have on hand to fix the problem. Before we discuss how to remove wood furniture watermarks, it’s important to note that while some rings may fully disappear, others may only lessen in appearance. If they lessen after one trick, you can certainly try applying another method to see if that will further reduce the rings!


One method of attacking the watermarks is to apply heat directly to the rings. The heat will (generally) help the moisture evaporate from the wood. There are two different heat sources to choose from in this scenario: an iron or blow dryer. If you choose to use a blow dryer, hold it directly over the watermark and wave over the area until the moisture evaporates. If you prefer an iron, first empty all of the water out of the water chamber. Set the iron heat to low, and then place a cloth or t-shirt over the watermark you want to remove. Place the iron over the cloth-protected watermark for a short period of time, then check on the status and appearance of the ring. A few applications of the iron might be needed before the ring completely disappears, so be patient!


If heat fails to deliver the results you’re looking for, let toothpaste have a shot at it. The only type of toothpaste that will work is the white, creamy, non-gel type (like Sensodyne). Using a rag, work some of the toothpaste into the ring. The trick here is to try to limit toothpaste exposure to only affected parts of the furniture since it can wear down the finish elsewhere. This process doesn’t take very long, and you don’t need to wipe the marks with much force, either. If that does not seem to do the trick, try mixing some baking soda into the toothpaste to up the ante.

various stains


Another internet-tested and approved method to remove wood furniture watermarks is with the use of full-fat mayonnaise. Since mayo is essentially lemon juice, eggs, oil, and vinegar, the combination of acids and oil is enough to lift the water from the finish and replace it with nourishing oil. Plus, the oil in the mayo will polish your furniture along the way; really it’s a win-win! To use this method, apply some mayonnaise directly to the area where the watermark is located. Leave it on for at least an hour but ideally overnight, for best results. Wipe it off in the morning and buff with a clean cloth for a polished, (hopefully) watermark-free surface. If, for some reason, this method does not work and you want to take it to the next level, try mixing cigarette ashes into the mayonnaise. The abrasiveness of the ashes, combined with the chemical makeup of the mayo, should do the trick.

If the mayonnaise-cigarette ashes didn’t seem like a weird combo, we have one that surely will: butter and ashes. According to one Deadspin columnist who is a cleaning expert, the formula was passed down from her mother — and we all know family recipes are the best recipes. Basically, just mix softened butter and cigarette ashes together to form a paste. Wipe that paste over the watermarks and then wipe it off with a new cloth. It should work like a charm — a charm that requires you to know a smoker and to collect some of their cigarette ashes.

Between these four watermark remover hacks, and the watermark eraser, you should be able to get rid of those water rings, or make them significantly less visible. Remember, if one method doesn’t work for you, don’t give up hope; these techniques can be layered on top of one another. Hopefully though, you’ll find one that works best for you and will be able to use it for years to come.

About us

About Me
Open the door to Guardsman On-Site Care and Repair, and let us show you what we can do to keep you living on your furniture with pride.
We’ll fix and care for your pieces—generally right in your own home or business.