How to Remove White Spots from Wood Furniture

Wood furniture has a beautiful, natural aesthetic. When properly cared for, it can last for a good, long time before needing to be replaced. That said, accidents can happen and even the best of intentions can lead to blemishes and other minor damage.

Minor damage like someone leaving their drink on the surface without a coaster, for instance. You may notice white spots on the surface of your wood furniture. Likewise, overly hot cups can have the same impact. To get it off, you can use baking soda, petroleum jelly, even salt. There are numerous ways to get rid of those unsightly spots.

What Causes Those White Spots?

Before we worry about removing them, we first need to understand how they come to be. After all, knowledge can help prevent them from coming to be in the first place. The short answer is that heat and moisture can both cause white spots to form on the wood furniture.

The moisture or heat gets down below the surface of the wood, causing discoloration on the surface. The good news is that the impact is not severe and is definitely reversible. When either of those things permeate the entirety of the wood, it can lead to rot, which can be tough to fix.

Try to avoid leaving glasses with condensation on your wood furniture. That hot pizza box should probably go on the stove. Minor occurrences lead to those white spots appearing on the surface of your wood furniture.

How to Remove White Spots from Wood Furniture

The good news is that these are minor issues. With a few different applications, you can get those white spots removed from the surface of your wood furniture. Whether you use heat, toothpaste, or one of the various others, you can remove those white spots for good. Try one of these methods.

wood furniture with white stains and spots
Photo by Dana DeVolk on Unsplash

Using Heat

While it may seem like using heat would cause damage, the good news is that it can be used to get out those white spots. With a hairdryer or an iron, you can get the necessary heat (at a greater level of control) that is needed.

There are two ways to handle this. If you use an iron, take out any of the water inside. Use a t-shirt, towel, or a cloth and place it over the stain. Put the iron on the lowest setting and run it over your cloth for a few seconds at a time. Keep checking under the cloth to see what the white marks look like. Repeat until you can remove the white spots entirely.

Should you choose the hairdryer method, you don’t need to use a cloth. Put the dryer on its lowest setting and aim at the white marks. Just keep the hairdryer moving to prevent too much heat from hitting the surface. Keep working the dryer over the spots, moving back and forth, until the white spots are gone.


Toothpaste is good at removing the gunk that builds up on your teeth. What you may not have known is that toothpaste can also help you remove water stains from your wood furniture. It is important that you use a specific type of paste, though. You want to go with the creamy, non-gel type that is white in color.

Make sure that you focus on the impacted areas only. Rub the toothpaste in gently on the white areas, doing so for no more than a minute at a time. If you keep rubbing the toothpaste in and do so on the unaffected areas, it could harm the finish of the furniture.

Keep working on the impacted areas briefly, then check the results. This is one of the tougher methods for getting those spots off, though it can be effective.

dining room furniture
(Carlos Macias, unsplash)

Applying Mayonnaise

No, this is not a joke. Yes, one of the most popular condiments out there actually has another practical use. The reason being is due to the oil in the mayonnaise. The oil is capable of penetrating the finish of the wood and removing the moisture that is trapped beneath.

To use the mayonnaise, apply it directly onto the white spots using a rag. Give the mayonnaise an hour at the very least – it may need more time – to get beneath the surface and work at the moisture beneath.

Wipe away the mayonnaise, rubbing the area with a clean cloth. It should buff out the mayonnaise and bring the white marks with it, giving you a fresh, clean surface instead.

Try Petroleum Jelly

If you can’t bring yourself to use mayonnaise on your furniture, there is a viable alternative in petroleum jelly. It may feel a little less “gross” and more practical to use, so whichever method you choose will work for you.

Like mayonnaise, petroleum jelly works by permeating the surface and pulling out the moisture. The methods for removing the white marks are the same, too. Apply the petroleum jelly and give it some time to do its thing. Then grab a clean rag and buff out the spot. You should be left with a spot-free appearance.

Steel Wool

Some of these methods may bring the majority of the white marks out, but not all of them. Don’t panic; there are a few things that can be done to clean up the rest. Like using fine-grade steel wool to come in as the cleanup crew.

Make sure that you use mineral or lemon oil on the steel wool itself before you begin. Gently rub it on the stain, moving back and forth. Make sure that you move with the grain of the wood. Do so in short intervals and you should notice the white spots coming up in short order.

The oil works to polish the area sine the abrasiveness of the steel wool can slightly damage the finish. If you don’t have those oils, use paste wax to help cover the area. Just make sure that you buff the area after applying to give the wood a good-as-new finish.

bar top with a vase and various furniture
(Pamela Buenrostro, unsplash)


You will notice that the best removal methods have one of two things: the ability to soak out the moisture or they are an abrasive that works the white spots out. Salt is a natural abrasive and can help remove those white spots leftover from your wine glass.

Mix a teaspoon of salt with a few drops of water; it should form a paste. Rub that paste in a circle on the impacted area using a sponge or a soft cloth. Keep working it in until you notice that the white spots have dissipated.

You may want to use some furniture polish on the area afterwards. It will help to restore the shine and finish of the impacted area.

White Vinegar

First of all, if you do not have white vinegar in your home, make sure that you get some. It is as versatile a cleaning tool as you can get. That said, you can also use it to get rid of those white spots on the surface of your wood furniture.

wood dining table
(Caeli Team, Pexels)

Just mix the vinegar with some olive oil, applying it to the surface of the wood with a soft cloth. Do so as vigorously as needed to get the white stains up. It may take a few tries depending on the severity of the white stains. When you are done, use a different clean cloth to wipe up the surface.

White vinegar can also get white water rings from leather furniture, too. It can even get blood out of wood. There is nothing that white vinegar can’t do, so have it readily available.

Car Wax

Why not go with something that removes light abrasions and stains from cars? Car wax is similar to furniture polish in that it can get those light stains out while also polishing the surface of your wood furniture.

Just trace out a ring using your finger and apply it over the white spots. Give it sufficient time to dry and then buff it off using a soft cloth.


It can be deflating to see white spots on the surface of your wood furniture. The good news is that you can get it out with any number of methods, including the ones listed above. Before long, you will be white stain-free and have a bright, shining finish where those stains once reined.

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