Insisting on drink coaster use may seem like a fussy obsession – until you find a water stain on one of your prized pieces of wood furniture. Whether from condensation on a drink, a leaky plant pot or a spill, water that isn’t quickly cleaned up can leave a stain on wood. Once fully set, a water stain generally cannot be removed without refinishing the wood, so you’ll want to move quickly after discovering a stain. Past several days, the possibility of repairing a stain becomes unlikely. Fresh stains are usually white, while old stains often turn black. If you come across a fresh water stain, try these three tricks in order to see if you can erase the damage.
One good way to attempt to remove water that’s seeped into wood is with heat. Get a clothing iron and a cotton napkin, thin towel or t-shirt. Completely empty the iron of water and turn it on to “low”. Cover the stain with the fabric and briefly iron the spot, then check to see if the stain has faded. Repeat until the stain disappears or the process stops having an effect. Alternatively, blow back and forth over the stain with a hot hair dryer for about ten minutes to achieve the same result.
- Mayonnaise or petroleum jelly
Slathering a greasy substance onto your furniture probably seems like the last thing you’d want to do. If the ironing step doesn’t work, however, this is your next best bet. The oil in mayonnaise or petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) may be able to displace the moisture under the wood’s surface. Dab a bit of either substance on a rag, and gently apply it to the stain. Allow the application to sit for at least an hour or as long as overnight. If using mayonnaise, reapply it if the first application dries out. Wipe away any remaining mayo or jelly when done.
Your final trick before you throw in the towel (or rag) is toothpaste. Find the white, non-gel type of product. A paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon water can also be used instead. Apply some to a rag, and then massage it into the stain. Toothpaste and baking soda are both mildly abrasive, so be sure not to scrub very hard or very long. Wipe off the substance to see if it’s had any effect.
Hopefully one of these tricks removed or at least minimized your stain. If the stain persists, you’ll have to either live with it (such as by hiding it with a table cloth, table runner or centerpiece) or refinish the piece of furniture. Either way, consider this an important reminder of the importance of coasters.