Oh, white water stain on my beautiful wooden kitchen table. You are EVIL! Why must you taunt me so, catching my eye every time I walk through the room?
Last week I hosted a brunch (because I'm like a spunkier, more-champagne-drunk version of Ina Garten) and did something incredibly stupid. I placed my delicious cheesy bacon casserole on the kitchen table, sitting it on a towel and NOT on a trivet. *Slaps forehead*
I didn't discover the mark for hours -- because brunch was long and the champagne delicious. When I did, I panicked. This was different than your average white ring left from a cup or mug plopped down sans coaster. This was a rectangle roughly the size and shape, well, of a kitchen towel. I frantically scrubbed and scrubbed with soap and water. If this has happened to you -- DON'T DO THAT.
Why am I yelling at you for soaping and watering? Because the white marks that appear on wooden surfaces, which you are so desperate to get rid of, are locked-in moisture! Adding water to water equals more water, which means an even bigger stain to deal with in the long run. Spare yourself.
If you're contending with a white mark, the problem is relatively easy to fix. White marks appear when water becomes trapped between the veneer of the table and the wood itself. But those darker spots that appear? Bad news. They mean that the water has sunk into the actual wood. That's no DIY project. You'll have to enlist a professional.
But if it's just white marks, no matter how big or small, you're working on, here are 3 popular tips that can help you out. They are listed in no particular order. Except the one that I used, I've put first. Because I'm the greatest and so is that tip.
This is time consuming, I can't lie to you, but looking at my table today, you'd never guess the rough shape it was in earlier in the week. Got a hair dryer or a space heater? Both will work. I used a space heater, because this takes time, and my arm gets easily wearied. Set up the device of your choosing at least six inches from the stain (you don't want to start a fire). Keeping it on medium, work on the stain until it disappears altogether. I started my space heater up in the morning, and the stain was gone by dinner.
There are loads of tips that suggest using ashes (yes, like from a cigarette), salt, or sandpaper to buff away the stain. This will totally work, and faster than heat. But it will leave your table vulnerable to re-staining since you've removed the veneer from the table's surface.
You'll see several Internet-popular tips that recommend smearing butter, mineral oil, mayo, and even olive oil on the stain. The thinking here is that the oil will displace the water. That may be the case, and if you're working with mineral oil, I support this choice. But leave the edibles alone -- you don't want your table to get rancid oil trapped beneath the veneer and the wood.
Do you have any tried-and-true methods of removing water stains?
Image via mawari/Flickr