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Water stains: Causes, prevention and correction

Kendra Y. Mims is a freelance writer and online content editor in the Chicagoland area. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in journalism. Her passions include writing, reading, and traveling.

What you need to know

Discovering a water stain on a beloved piece of furniture can put the most laid-back homeowner in a panic mode. While it's true that some pieces of furniture may inevitably get water stains over time, the good news is that these spots can be easily corrected. Find out what causes water stains and how to prevent and correct them.
Woman cleaning table

Causes

Sometimes, you're preoccupied with a to-do list or you're just having fun watching your favorite TV show during downtime, so using a coaster is probably the last thing on your mind while sipping your drink. Hot plates, steaming cups of coffee, pizza boxes and overwatered plants are just a few things that can leave a mark on your furniture. Remember, the lighter the stain, the easier it will be to remove. White or light-colored stains are usually caused by steam, while dark stains are more difficult (but not impossible) to get rid of, because the liquid has surpassed the polished surface and gone into the wood.

Prevention

You may not always remember to use a place mat or coaster when drinking your morning cup of coffee, but they work wonders when it comes to protecting your wooden table from heat and spills. A tablecloth is another way to prevent stains, and it also enhances the kitchen's decor. Be sure to wipe up spills instantly, no matter how small. If you keep a vase on the table, prevent water spills by using a plant tray. You can also confine eating and drinking to specific rooms in your home to decrease the risk of spills and water stains.

Correction

toothpaste

If you forgot to pull out the coasters, you can still remove water stains with natural ingredients that you have around your home. Use toothpaste (avoid gel) on a wet cloth or combine mayonnaise with baking powder to gently rub the stain until it fades away. Another effective solution is to put mineral oil on a soft cloth, rub it on the stain and let it sit overnight. Lifehack.org recommends you place a cotton cloth directly over the stain and then, with a dry iron (no steam), press down for several seconds on the cloth. Remove the cloth and check the stain, and repeat these steps until the water marks are completely gone.

More on stain removal

How to remove stains from your clothes
How to remove oil stains
How to remove 7 stubborn stains

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