Repairing Water Stains on Furniture

Some pieces of furniture look rustic and even attractive with a few water stains. I have seen pieces that haven’t lost a single touch of their original beauty despite the water ring someone’s Scotch left behind. However, most furniture looks quite unkempt with water stains, and those pieces need someone who knows all about repairing water stains on furniture.

When I was a child, I left my glass of orange juice on the piano while I practiced. The circle left behind upset my mother terribly, especially since the piano was a hand me down from her mother. She called everyone under the sun and asked what to do. She finally settled on having the entire piano refinished, which even at the age of ten I thought was a little drastic. Nevertheless, after my month of grounding was over, the piano was returned to our home looking perfectly pristine and completely devoid of the evidence a ten year old can leave behind.

I didn’t understand why she didn’t ground herself, however, when her antique baking table ended up with various water marks from a party she threw around the holidays. I guess it’s just different when adults do things, even when they leave behind the same result. However, this time, she had a friend who was able to promise her he could repair the stain without having to endure the expense, and the hassles of moving the furniture, of refinishing. He showed up two days later with a tube of toothpaste. I thought for sure that if adults could ground other adults, this would be the time. My mother stood there, with her arms crossed in fervent denial, while her friend worked the toothpaste into the stain. He told her to let it dry there overnight and he would be back in the morning. Of course, the toothpaste smeared into the baking table was a conversation piece for the rest of the evening, even arousing a chuckle from my father when he came home.

Early the next morning, the toothpaste King reappeared with a cloth, some lemon oil, and a little furniture polish. He went right to work as he removed the toothpaste with a soft damp cloth and then followed up with a round of lemon oil. For his final exhibit, he pulled out the furniture polish and waxed until the whole table top shone with luster that uncrossed my mother’s arms. Apparently, this type of trick works on many woods, but not all.

Toothpaste has changed some over the years. There are now all kinds of gel based toothpastes that work for removing stains from your teeth while simultaneously freshening breath, fighting various gum diseases, and whitening your teeth into a brand new hue. That’s great for your mouth but not you furniture. Only use an actual regular toothpaste (as in the pasty stuff that tasted horrible when we were kids) when repairing water stains on furniture.

Polishing the water stain with cigarette ashes, after they’ve cooled, can also remove the water mark. Cigar ashes also work, but for some reason cigarette ashes work a bit better. Mixing these ashes with a small amount of water results in a highly unappetizing mess that works well on water stains.

If there isn’t a smoker handy, you can also make an almost as effective concoction of baking soda and water. In this case you will want to make it a heavy paste, almost the same consistency of the toothpaste and rub it thoroughly throughout the stain. Make sure the stain is completed coated, and then leave it where it is for about 12 hours. When you remove the baking soda (or ashes) paste that you made, use a soft dry cloth and be persistent. Get it all off before attacking the area with lemon oil and furniture polish. This, however, might take two tries before the stain is entirely gone.

If you are lucky enough to catch the spill or water mark at the time of the incident, wipe it up quickly and then allow a cool or mildly warm hair dryer setting to thoroughly dry out the area. While some wood furniture will still stain, sometimes if you evaporate the droplets fast enough you can prevent the staining to occur altogether.

When my mother’s friend left the house after our little round of education, I did remind her that she had grounded me for the same incident. Turns out, if she had realized that repairing water stains on furniture was so easy and inexpensive, my month of isolation would have never occurred. Either way, it was a long time before I left a glass to sweat all over a piece of furniture, which in the long run made me a better guest in someone’s home. Thus, perhaps not all was lost.



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