Let’s face it; no one wants to deal with annoying watermarks on their wooden surfaces. That’s why you need to know how to remove water stains from unfinished wood. That way, you can handle it as soon as possible and prevent further damage to your wood.

Water stains can be white or black, depending on how long the water sat on the wood. This could be on your wood floor, wood furniture, or wood deck.

This detailed guide is here to demonstrate the easy methods you can use to get rid of the ugly watermarks from your wood.

Let’s get started.

How to Remove Water Stains From Unfinished Wood – The Methods

In this guide, we will cover the details of removing water stains from wood using: Mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, olive oil and vinegar, lemon oil, toothpaste, baking soda, a teaspoon of salt, iron box, hairdryer, sandpaper, and finally using household bleach.

Read: How to get heat stains out of wood

Tools and Materials to Remove Water Stains from Wood Surfaces

Note: you won’t certainly need all these tools. But you can pick your preferred methods based on what you already have or can access. 

  • Cotton rags
  • Cotton cloths
  • Paper towel
  • Hairdryer
  • Mayonnaise
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Lemon oil
  • Clothes Iron
  • Toothpaste
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Household bleach
  • Rubber gloves
  • Grade # 0000 Steel wool
  • Sandpaper (100 and 150-grit)

How to Remove White Water Stains from Wood

Here are ten simple yet effective ways to remove stains on wood. 

Wipe as soon as it happens

The first step to preventing a water stain from forming is to wipe the spill as soon as it happens.

Step 1: Dab the water from the wood using a cotton rag. Wring out excess water. Repeat the process.

Step 2:Press and hold a dry rag on the watermarks. This prevents you from spreading the stain on an unaffected surface.

Step 3: Use more dry rags or paper towels to buff the wood surface dry.


This item should be somewhere in your pantry or fridge. So grab it, and let’s get to work.

Step 1:Scoop or squeeze out a small amount of mayonnaise onto a paper towel.

Step 2:Lightly spread it on the water stain or water ring. Leave it to sit long enough until the stain is removed – 24 hours is ideal.

Step 3:Wipe away the mayonnaise using a clean cotton cloth.

Step 4: Buff the wood surface using a clean cloth.

It is also quite possible to achieve the same results if you mix some mayonnaise with fireplace ash or cigarette ash then apply it on the water stain following the same steps above.

Petroleum jelly

You can use any petroleum jelly on the stained area and work with the following steps;

Step 1: Apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to the water stain on your piece of wood furniture. You can either use a paper towel or your fingers to spread the jelly evenly.

Let it sit overnight or for 24 hours on the stained area for best results.

Step 2: Wipe away the jelly from your wood if the stain has vanished.

Step 3: Buff the wood furniture with a clean cloth to remove excess petroleum jelly.

Did you know you can also use car wax to remove water stains from wood? You apply a little wax on the water ring, dry it, and buff the surface clean.

Olive oil and vinegar

Water stains become a thing of the past once you know how to utilize your salad dressing. So grab them from your pantry and follow these steps.

Step 1: Get a bowl and mix equal parts of olive oil and vinegar. Mix well. The amount of the mixture will depend on the size of your water stain. Adjust that as necessary.

Step 2: Use a paper towel to apply the mixture to the water stain. Wipe the stain along the direction of the wood grain until the stain is removed.

Step 3:Wipe the wood surface with a dry cloth to buff the wood.

Lemon Oil

Lemon oil is a popular product for reducing the appearance of watermarks, smells and removing water stains. You can use this product independently or combined with other cleaning products.

Step 1: Apply a few drops of lemon oil onto the stain that needs to be removed. Let it sit for a few hours.

Step 2:Use a clean cotton cloth to gently rub away the water stain from the wood.

Step 3: Buff the wood with a dry cloth once you have removed all the stains.

You can also use mineral oils in the same way you would use lemon oil to get rid of watermarks from wood.

Hair Dryer

Step 1: Plugin a blow dryer into a power source. Hold the hair dryer a few inches away from the wood and heat it.

Step 2: Blow-dry the stained wood to get rid of water stains. Remember that only low to medium heat is required here.

Step 3: Move the hairdryer in circular motions to not over-concentrate the heat on one part of the wood; it might burn.

Too much heat can lead to excessive drying and damage. But don’t fret as you can learn how to fix burn marks on wood quickly before proceeding.

Finally, buff the surface once the stains are gone.

Iron box

Here is another option for you to remove water stains from unfinished wood surfaces.

Step 1:Grab your dry iron or steam iron (make sure to drain every last bit of water from the iron).

Step 2: Cover the stain with a clean cloth. Plug the iron into a power source and set it to the lowest to medium heat, depending on the thickness of the fabric covering the stain.

Step 3:Place the warm iron on the cloth. Be sure to lift the iron and the fabric every so often to check if the stain is gone.

Step 4:Heat for as long as needed until the water stain fully evaporates and leaves your wood restored to its original glory.

Recommended Reading: How to remove black urine stain from hardwood floor


Here’s another easy option at your disposal. You want to make sure, though, that you use ordinary white toothpaste, not the gel types.

Step 1: Squeeze out a small amount of toothpaste onto the stained area. 

Step 2: Use a clean cloth or a paper towel to apply it evenly to the stain. 

Step 3: Gently rub away the stain using back and forth motion following the wood grain.

Step 4: Wipe the surface using a clean, soft cloth once there’s no more stain on the wood. 

Step 5: Finally, wipe the wood dry using a dry cloth or paper towel.

You can also mix equal parts of toothpaste and baking soda to remove water stains from wood. Follow the same procedure as this one above.

Baking Soda

You will need baking soda and water for this easy method.

Step 1: Prepare the paste by scooping three teaspoons of baking soda into a small bowl. Add three teaspoons of water. Mix.

What you should have is a thick white paste. Make a larger paste if the stain on the wood is equally extensive.

Step 2: Apply the paste on the water stain using a paper towel.

Step 3: Gently rub in circular motions until the stain fades away. 

Step 4:Wipe away the residue using a dry cloth.


Here’s another item from your kitchen that can help you get the job done.

Step 1:Mix one teaspoon of salt and equal amounts of water in a small bowl.

Step 2:Apply the mixture directly to the stain. Use either a paper towel or an old toothbrush, or a soft sponge to rub away the stain gently. 

Step 3:Use short circular motions or follow the direction of the water stain.

Step 4: Finally, wipe away the residue using a damp cloth and follow immediately with a dry paper towel.

Read More: How to Get Oil Based Wood Stain Off of Concrete

How to remove dark water stains from unfinished wooden Furniture Surface


This is another method that won’t fail you in removing water stains from unfinished wood.

You will need to get your hands on fine-grit sandpaper (100 and 150-grit).

Step 1: Begin sanding using the 100 grit sandpaper—sand in the direction of the wood grain.

Step 2: Wipe the dust away frequently to check if the method is working.

Step 3: Progress to 150 grit sandpaper and sand away the remaining stain. 

Step 5: Give the wood a clean, final wipe using a damp cloth.

Household Wood Bleach

Dark water stains that may have formed on the hardwood floor or wood deck can be removed easily using household bleach. 

Step 1: Create a cleaning solution of equal parts(1:1) bleach and room temperature water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves since bleach is caustic.

Step 2: Apply the wood bleach solution to the water stain using a soft sponge. Let it dry thoroughly for as long as your weather allows.

Step 3: Make a more concentrated bleach solution in the ratio of 2:1 bleach and water, respectively, if there’s still some stain left on the wood. Then scrub the stain using a ball of super fine steel wool.

Step 4: Repeat the process until you are satisfied with the results.

Bonus Tip

If you can’t seem to get black water stains from your hardwood floor or deck, then it might be time to hunt for suitable wood stains and how to apply them.

Alternatively, look for any of the best floor paint to effectively cover and conceal the stubborn stains while providing a fresh and attractive finish to your flooring or deck surface.


​​Homemade Black Water Stain Removal Method

Mix baking soda, hot coffee and vinegar. Let that sit for about an hour before wiping it off or scrubbing away at pesky stains on any wood surface.

Can you use vinegar on unfinished wood?

Why yes! But don’t do it directly on the wood. Instead, apply a good layer of wax or oil first and then drench in vinegar for best results.

How do I prevent water rings on wood furniture?

Water rings on wood furniture are usually the result of moisture condensation, which can be prevented by wiping down wooden surfaces or using a humidifier.

For more serious cases, you could also consider applying natural oils like linseed oil to protect for longer periods in storage.

How do I remove black water stains from hardwood floors?

If you have a black water stain on your hardwood floors, there are several ways to remove it. The first and most effective is vacuuming with an upholstery attachment. This will draw in excess liquid from the affected area.

How do I get water stains out of lacquered wood Furniture?

The best way to remove water stains from the lacquered surface is by using an all-purpose cleaner with bleach added into the recipe (we recommend Clorox Cleanup).

Read also: Best way to remove lacquer from wood.

How to remove oil based stain from unfinished wood Furniture

The best way to remove oil-based stains from unfinished wood furniture is with a natural or organic cleaner. You should first determine what type of stain it is, then ensure you have the right cleaning supplies for your specific needs and surface finish. Finally, apply in small amounts and always test on an inconspicuous area before applying anywhere else!

Best polish for unfinished wood

The best polish for unfinished wood is Shellac. This polish is also the easiest to apply and can be done in-situ!

How to clean unfinished wood

To clean unfinished wood, use a damp microfiber cloth and natural cleaner. First, sweep or vacuum the floor’s surface to remove dust or debris. Next, mix water and the cleaner in a bucket, dip the microfibre cloth and wring it out, so it’s damp. Next, wipe the floor with the cloth, using circular motions, until it’s clean.

Read also: How to remove scratches from wood furniture.


Water stains are challenging to remove, but it is not impossible either. Above, we’ve discussed several options on how to remove water stains from unfinished wood. The stain removal methods include everyday home essentials that won’t break the bank.

Remember to plan for wood finishing once you have removed the watermarks. That way, your wood has a layer of protection against water stains, among others. At the end of the day, “prevention is better than cure.”

Let us know in the comments below which of these methods worked for you. You may also like – How to clean wood stain off hands.

1 thought on “How to Remove Water Stains From Unfinished Wood”

  1. Thank you for your informative website. I have used your tips on a hardwood floor that was heavily stained by water and pets. The results were quite good.


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