See how to remove water stains from wood using common household products.

A few weeks ago, right before I restained our honey oak mantel a darker color, I decided to try to remove the water stains from the top of the mantel. A quick search of how to remove water stains from wood led me to some great tips from  For Dummies. The water marks have been there since we moved into our house over 9 years ago, so I didn’t have high hopes. I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised!

Here’s a look at what it looked like before.

removing water marks - before

I took two different spots on the mantel  and tried two different methods.

Mayonnaise + Wood Polish

For the first test, I applied a layer of mayonnaise to the spot. I let it sit for about 10 minutes, then I wiped it off with a clean cloth. Finally, I applied some wood oil we had on hand. Results were great! When the wood polish dried, you could very faintly see the water mark, but only if you were looking for it.

removing water marks from wood with mayonnaiseremoving water marks from wood with mayonnaise - after


Toothpaste + Baking Soda Paste

On a second water mark, I mixed together equal parts of toothpaste and baking soda (about 1/2 tbsp each). I applied the paste to the stain first and let it sit for a few minutes and then gently rubbed with a clean cloth.

removing a water mark with toothpasteremoving a water mark with toothpaste and baking sodaremoving a water mark with toothpaste and baking soda

At first I thought this worked, but once I got all of the paste off, it left the stain a little darker in some areas. It looked better than the original water mark had, but not as good as the mayonnaise technique. Unfortunately I tried to use the mayonnaise after doing this and it didn’t work. I wish I would have tried using the mayo first and then moved on to the paste if that hadn’t worked. Live and learn I guess!

I finished out the other few water marks using mayonnaise and wood polish. After I stained the mantle, the spot where I used the toothpaste and baking soda paste turned out even darker than here. It still looks better than it did before though. Since I’m only 5’4″, I don’t really notice the top of the mantel too much anyway!


  • EA
    Posted October 16, 2014 11:29 pm 0Likes

    what type of mayo did you use?

  • Erin @
    Posted October 17, 2014 6:52 am 0Likes

    I’m pretty sure I used Hellman’s since that’s what we usually buy.

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