How to remove white rings from wood

Heat mark on Wood table

What causes white rings on wood furniture?

Stains on wood furniture are the worst!  The white rings that appear on a table out of nowhere can drive you nuts trying to remove them.   In this article I will give you a few tips on how you can remove white ring stains from your wood furniture.

The first time I noticed one of these white ring stains on my brand new table it infuriated me!  I tried all types of cleaners which almost seemed to make it worse!   Products that claim to remove any stain we’re useless. In this article I will give you a couple of quick home remedies for removing these pesky white ring stains from your wood furniture.   

Main cause of white rings on wood furniture

First it’s important to understand where these stains come from.   Is it that I didn’t use a coaster when I put down my glass?    Could it be from the oils in your skin as you rest your arms on the table?   Did somebody spilled an entire thing of bleach on my table?

There’s a simple answer to this common problem that we all have. The main cause of these white rings are actually caused by hot plates.  That’s right, hot plates are the main cause of white rings on your table. I guess I should have listened to my mom when she told me to use a placemat at dinner time.

Now don’t get me wrong hot plates are not the only thing that causes these white rings.  That hot coffee cup that you have every morning, the warm pizza box that you set on the table on a Friday night or that quick TV dinner that you just whipped up on a Wednesday while watching Jeopardy.

These white rings you’re seeing or actually called heat stains. What’s happening is the heat is being trapped under these things.  When the heat is trapped underneath the moisture is building up as well which is causing these white rings.

Not to worry before you go spending thousands of dollars replacing on your furniture there are some easy fixes.  Now granted all these fixes May not pan out the same depending on your situation.

Five ways to remove white rings from your wood table

1.  Get yourself a hot iron

That’s right, this is one of the easiest ways to remove these white stains.  I was actually freaked out the first time I attempted to use a hot iron on my brand-new table. I mean who in their right mind uses an iron on a dining room table?

So how do you use the iron to remove the stain? 

First you’ll want to go ahead and grab yourself an old white T-shirt or cloth. The T-shirt or cloth is going to act as your barrier between the iron and the wood surface. Then you will want to empty out all the water that maybe in the iron as many recommend.  Although I have found success with using the steam as well but always proceed with caution! 

Now go ahead and fire up that old iron that has been sitting in your closet for the last 15 years. Once your iron has had a chance to heat up you will want to place the cloth over the stain and slowly move the iron back and forth over the stained area for a short period of time.   Now that your t-shirt is completely wrinkle-free lift it up and use a dry white cloth to wipe away the stain.

So why does this iron method work?

Essentially what you’re doing with this method is heating up the moisture that is trapped in the wood causing it to evaporate and rise to the surface.   Once the moisture reaches the surface you’re wiping away the white ring stain at its root cause.  

2.  Some good old Toothpaste

 I mean if toothpaste is good enough to clean your teeth it should be good enough to get that stain out of your wood table right?  

 I can honestly say I’ve tried this method a few times and it didn’t pan out too well for me but it may for you. What you do is place a dab of toothpaste on your finger or on a towel and rub it into the wood grain until it gets a little warm.  After you’re done applying toothpaste take a damp chow and wipe it down.

 It’s recommended that you use the standard White toothpaste not the gel. Also be sure not to scrub too long or outside the stained area which may put a little unnecessary wear on the wood finish.  Always remember to test a small hidden area.   If at first you don’t succeed try and try again until the stains are gone.

3.  Let’s give that stain the Salon treatment

Now were going to turn your dining room into a full-fledged salon so break out the hair dryer.  Now take your hair dryer and turn it up to the highest setting. Get that baby close to the stain and hold it there for about 30 minutes moving at back and forth over the area.  What we’re trying to do is evaporate the moisture that is in the wood causing the white ring.  If and when the stain goes away add a little olive oil onto the wood to give him a little finish.

I would definitely recommend this method if you have about 30 minutes to kill on a Saturday afternoon. What better to do then sit in your dining room holding a hair dryer (just kidding?) 

4.   Time to bake with some baking soda

 This method is very similar to the toothpaste method.  What we’re going to do is make a paste with baking soda and it little bit of water.   It is recommended to use two parts baking soda to one part water but you can just eyeball this as it’s not rocket science.

I’ll grab one of those white rags you have laying around and apply it to the surface gently.   Baking soda can be abrasive I’ll be sure not to scrub too hard so that you don’t damage the finish.

 Afterwards use a damp cloth to wipe away the baking soda.   if the stain did not disappear by now you can always try again.

5. Let’s break out some steel wool

For this method you will need some fine steel wool and a little bit of lemon oil. You will want to soak the steel war in the lemon oil for a little bit.   Now take out the steel wool in ever so gently start rubbing the white ring away.  

  The lemon oil will help to prevent scratching the wood surface but that’s essentially what you’re doing with this method.   Think of it as a real light surface sanding.   After you’re done taking it clean cloth and wipe down the surface.   If the stain is still there you can always give it another go.

As you can see there are many ways that can help in removing white rings from wood furniture.  All furniture finishes are not created equal so if one method doesn’t work you can always move on to the next.  Just remember to always test the method on a hidden spot so that it doesn’t make more issues!

Need professional help?

If you are tired of trying to remove wood stains from your furniture give Home Built Woodworking a call!  We specialize in custom built farmhouse furniture & refinishing.