How to Remove Water Stains from Furniture

Table with water stains
This antique table is covered with water rings and spots

At my house, we’re normally very careful about using coasters, but sometimes a glass or dish will accidentally be placed on a wooden table, where the condensation collects to create an unsightly water stain. Those marks can easily be removed using a common ingredient that you probably have in your refrigerator – ordinary mayonnaise!

Applying mayonnaise to water stain on furniture
Apply mayonnaise to water stain

As soon as you see a water mark, gently blot the surface dry. Then apply a layer of mayonnaise with a spatula or paper towel. Leave it overnight, then wipe and buff with a clean cloth. No scrubbing needed.

It’s important to tackle the stain right away, before the water soaks underneath the finish and stains the wood itself. Not only will the stain be removed, but your furniture will have a wonderful luster from the rich polish.

It might seem strange (and smell a little funny), but consider that the primary ingredients in mayonnaise are eggs, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice, so it’s really nothing more than a homemade furniture polish! The combination of fat and mild acids penetrates the top layer of the finish to replace the water with nourishing oil.

Table after mayonnaise treatment
The same table after mayonnaise water stain treatment

The mayo treatment is convenient and will generally take care of most water marks. And it won’t harm your furniture or prevent you from trying other techniques, in the event of a stubborn stain.

Further Information

17 COMMENTS

  1. I am doing this right now! It is my mother’s dining room table my son used and abused. It is working, but I am going to leave the mayo on til tomorrow! I am so excited!

  2. This will remove water stains AND restore colour to faded timber furniture.

    Equal volumes of Gum Turpentine (not turps substitute): Raw Linseed Oil: Methylated Spirit: White Vinegar: Water:

    Shake well and rub into the affected area then leave. Repeat as necessary to achieve the desired result after the first coat has soaked into the timber

  3. I have water marks on my bottom cabinets where some one has let water drip down the front. I know it has been there a long time. Is there anything that can be done short of having them refinished?

    Thank You for your help,

    R D McCord.

  4. I sat hot food on a paper plate on an end table not knowing it would leave a cloudy white mark. Is there anything I can do to remove the unsightly mark? Thanks ahead of time for your help!

  5. We purchased a 100-year-old grand piano that had been in storage for 10 years, and it was covered with water stains–looked like someone had used it for a potted plant collection! Mayonnaise did the trick! I had doubts since the stains were so old, but it worked.

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  6. I used mayonnaise on a wood china cabinet that a dog had repeatedly urinated on to bring back the color and it worked. Amazing!!!

  7. I have a Kimball piano that I spiled a cup of real hot coffee on, I clean up on the spot, but the next day there was a milkey look stain on the pull out keys cover and other areas where the hot coffee had landed. The mayonnaise program has worked one again.

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