Water Damage – White Rings

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Removing Water Stains from Wood Furniture Involves Using an Iron


Water damage and white rings on wood furniture can happen in the blink of an eye. One of the most common causes of water damage is people leaving glasses filled with either cold or hot liquids on tabletops for short periods of time. This happens most frequently when guests are present in a home and are offered drinks. Sometimes, guests are cognizant enough to ask for coasters when they put down their drinks, but many guests will casually place their drinks on wood furniture without thinking twice. The next thing you know, there is water damage and white rings on the furniture.

Other cause of water damage and white rings are potted plants (even when they are sitting in a proper saucer), fresh flowers that are kept in a vase full of water, hot dish set down on the furniture, and bottles of liquid that are inadvertently left on furniture for a short period of time. Also, children are notorious for leaving cups of water on surfaces that should be protected.

White Rings

When you notice a white ring on your wood furniture, your initial reaction might be a sense of dread. You might feel like the furniture is ruined and you will either have to live with the white rings, get rid of the furniture, refinish the entire piece, or place an object or cloth over the furniture for the rest of the furniture’s life. But, before spending too much time worrying about the white rings, take a moment to evaluate the situation. How long have the white rings been present? Are they relatively new? Have they been present on the furniture for many, many years? Are they in a conspicuous place? In many cases it is highly likely that you will be able to remove white rings from wood quite easily.

Use and Iron and a Towel

Your first attempt at removing white rings from wood furniture should involve using an iron and a towel. First, turn on the iron, and set it at a low temperature. Do NOT use the steam setting – you are trying to remove moisture from the wood, not add more! When the iron is ready, place a thick towel over the water ring on the wood furniture, and then iron the towel for approximately 30 seconds. Be careful to not let the underside of the iron touch the wood in any way whatsoever. Also, do not place the iron on the wood when it is not in use or when it’s in a resting position. (You might want to have your ironing board placed nearby so you have a spot to place your hot iron when it’s not in use.)

After ironing the towel, check to see if the white rings have disappeared. If not, repeat the process several times. This procedure causes the moisture in the wood to be pulled from the wood using heat, and absorbed into the towel. After the white rings have disappeared, you may need to finish the process by polishing and buffing the affected area.

For Best Results…

The method listed above for removing white rings is most effective when attempted as soon as the white rings are noticed. The quicker the better. If water damage on wood furniture is not noticed for a prolonged period of time, the damage can be harder to reverse and can become permanent. In some cases, if the water seeps deep enough into the wood, the end result can turn from white rings to black rings or splotches that are set deeper in the wood. There are several other ways to try and remove white rings, but the iron and towel method is the simplest and should be attempted first.


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