How To Remove Water Stain Circles from Wood Furniture

water circle stain

Here are some great tips for removing water stain circles from wood furniture. We’ve got a clear cut choice of which tip works best for us, but try them all and decide for yourself.

We enjoy entertaining guests and even if you set coasters and napkins out, drinks will end up being left on wood furniture. Our dining room table is perfect for the small room and is a piece of furniture given to us by Laura’s grandmother.

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It’s not an antique but we treasure where it came from as well as how it functions and looks. We also have a nice piece from Design Within Reach that is the perfect height to set drinks on.

Unfortunately both pieces of furniture have been marred wet drinks and before we invest in having it re-finished we searched online for other alternatives to remove the water stain circles.

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The most common remedies that required the least amount of investment of time and money we found were:

1. Toothpaste technique
2. Mayonnaise and Ashes
3. Baking soda and water (or toothpaste)

We gave all three a try and here are the results.

Toothpaste Technique

wood stain

A white toothpaste is required for this so leave the gels in the bathroom. We have Sensodyne handy so we dabbed a bit of that directly on the water stain ring. You don’t need much at all.

Some people recommend letting it sit for awhile but because this works via abrasion and not water extraction we went to work on the stain after only a couple minutes.

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We were amazed! As we gently rubbed the toothpaste along the line of the stain we saw it immediately disappear or lighten. You don’t need to scrub very hard or for very long to see results.

In fact scrubbing to long and outside the area of the stain could cause an even larger mark as it wears away the finish and top layer of wood.

Mayonnaise and Ashes 

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We’ve heard much about this technique but to be honest neither of us smoke and therefore didn’t have ashes easily available. Cigarette ashes seem to be the ash of choice to be mixed in mayonnaise.

Apparently this technique relies on the mayonnaise somehow extracting the remaining water from the table as well as light abrasion due to the ashes.

We tried the mayonnaise sans ashes anyway and to our surprise it also worked! We let the mayonnaise sit for 3 hours but some recommend sitting it overnight.

As we wiped the mayonnaise off the water stain was definitely less noticeable and we didn’t do any scrubbing as we had done with the toothpaste.

The water stains in this table have been there for at least 9 months so we thought it unlikely that there was any moisture to extract at all from from the table.

Baking Soda and Water

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We mixed a 2-1 ratio of baking soda and water in a small metal bowl then proceeded to use a rag to gently scrub along the water mark line. Again the stain quickly started to recede. Not as dramatically as with the other two techniques but it definitely made a difference.

We experienced with a bit more baking soda for a thicker rub but that didn’t seem to do much to help. As with the toothpaste it doesn’t take much to see a difference.


In our opinion all 3 of these techniques work but the standout to us was the toothpaste technique. Next time we’d like to try a baking soda/toothpaste mixture as well as mix some ashes with the mayonnaise to see if the results are even better.

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We’ll still have to polish and refinish the table to bring it back to it’s original luster but for now we are happy with at least regaining a table with much lighter stains.

Which technique worked best for you to remove circles from your wood furniture?

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