How To Remove Heat Stains From Wood

Wood is a popular material for the home that brings an elegant aesthetic to any room. The only downside is that the surface is more prone to damage and staining, especially from heat. You may notice white marks from repeated exposure to heat. Over time, they cause the wood to look tarnished. If you’re wondering how to remove heat stains from wood, you have many options.

Heat marks are stubborn and can be difficult to remove. However, because heat stains are a regular occurrence with wood, there are many solutions to remove the white spots. One of the most common options involves using heat, which is easiest with the help of an iron.

In this article, we’ll cover the in-depth steps to remove unsightly heat stains from wood using an iron. We even include other techniques to eliminate white heat stains and talk about a few prevention methods to keep your wood furniture in top condition.

How To Remove Heat Stains From Wood

What are Heat Stains?

Heat stains are the marks left on a wood surface from repeated exposure to high temperatures. They appear white and cloudy. You could get them on your wood furniture from a hot pizza box or coffee mug. Anything hot can cause heat damage on a wooden surface.

How To Remove Heat Stains From Wood

Although there are many methods to remove heat stains from wood, the most common technique is to use heat. It sounds counterintuitive. However, applying more heat to the wood surface with the help of an iron is an effective way to remove white stains. The heat from the iron reopens the wood’s pores and allows the moisture to evaporate.

Until you know which technique will work best for your heat stain, try testing each solution on a tiny section of the wood before applying it on a larger scale. If you’re ever unsure about using a particular method, check with an expert.

Use the following steps to remove heat stains from wood using an iron.

Step 1: Clean and Dry the Surface

Clean the wood surface thoroughly and use a dry cloth to wipe it down. For example, if you’re removing heat marks from a wooden table, it’s crucial to deep clean the wood. Then, when the surface dries all the way, you can move on to the next step.

As the wood dries, use the time to preheat your iron. Get your iron and ironing board out. Set the iron on low, dry heat. Drain any liquid from the iron, and avoid using the steam setting. Leave it on the ironing board to warm up.

Step 2: Place a Towel on the Marks

Find an old towel and place it directly over the stain. Make sure to use a towel that you no longer want to keep in perfect condition. The towel should cover the stain completely.

If you don’t have an old towel you can use, an old t-shirt could work.

Step 3: Iron the Stain

When the iron is hot, move the iron over the towel. Keep the iron moving at all times to keep intense heat from the wood. Older wood furniture could warp if it comes into contact with heat that’s too intense or if you heat the surface for too long. So use caution during this step.

Run the iron over the towel (and stain) for a few minutes. Some people have success moving the iron slowly over the area. Others hover the hot iron over the spots without laying it all the way down to the cloth. I recommend trying to hover first and moving closer to the wood surface as needed.

Check the stain every so often to see if the marks disappear, then repeat the process until the stain is no longer visible.

Step 4: Try the Steam Feature

Tough, stubborn stains may stick around. This may happen if you’re dealing with a stain that’s been around for a long time. If you have a stubborn stain, follow the ironing process with steam to remove it. Do not try steam unless you’re positive the marks will not lift without it.

To steam wooden furniture, make sure your old towel is in place over the stain. Then, turn the iron to your steam setting. Only apply the steam in tiny amounts and quick bursts.

Step 5: Double-Check the Stain

Lift the towel to check if the marks are gone. Inspect the surface area thoroughly. If you still see white stains, try applying heat once again. When the stain is no longer visible, stop using heat immediately.

Step 6: Apply a Finish

After removing heat stains, you can further protect a wooden surface by layering on a wood finish. The product is excellent for helping prevent damage. Follow the directions on your product’s bottle for the best results.

Other Ways to Remove Heat Stains From Wood

heat stain on woodHeat stains are a common problem with wood, so there are various techniques to remove the marks. Most of these methods involve opening the wood pores to remove the moisture trapped inside. Here are the best alternatives to remove heat stains from wood.


If you don’t have an iron available, you can still use heat to open the wood’s pores utilizing a hairdryer. With this method, unlike using an iron, you don’t need an old towel. Set the hairdryer on the lowest heat setting available. Point the tool directly at your stain, slowly panning across the stain evenly. Keep going until the marks disappear.


Using toothpaste is another way to lift stains due to the alkaline reaction. For this product to work at removing stains, make sure to select white, non-gel toothpaste. Baking soda is an ideal ingredient, but you can also mix toothpaste and baking soda to form a new paste that’s powerful as well (more on this later).

Apply the toothpaste directly to a clean, dry wood surface. Allow it to sit on the stain for 10 minutes, then wipe the paste away with a clean cloth. Avoid pressing down hard.

Baking Soda Paste

You can also mix the toothpaste with baking soda for more power (and better results). If you try the toothpaste method and the stain remains, try mixing the toothpaste with baking soda in a bowl until you form a thick paste. You may need a small amount of water, depending on the toothpaste brand.

Lather the paste onto the stain. Leave it for around 10 minutes before wiping it from the surface.

Another alternative is to skip the toothpaste altogether. Try mixing baking soda and water, rubbing the paste into the stain. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and wipe it clean.


Salt is another powerful ingredient to remove heat stains, and it comes with a couple of options. It’s an excellent alternative ingredient in baking soda paste. Or, you can form a paste from salt and olive oil, allowing it to sit on the stain for an hour. Wipe the surface clean with a wet towel afterward.

Oil-Based Products

Oil-based products are beneficial tools against heat stains. Mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, and lemon oil are the favored solutions people use to remove stains. However, you can use nearly any oil-based product. All you have to do is cover the stain with plenty of the oil-based product and allow it to sit overnight. In the morning, wipe it away using a clean cloth.

Miracle Whip or Mayo

Miracle Whip or mayonnaise has a high oil base, making them an excellent alternative for removing heat stains. You may already have mayo in your fridge at home. Rub the Miracle Whip or mayonnaise onto the stain, and allow it to sit for an hour. Wipe it clean.

Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline or petroleum jelly also works to remove stains. This technique is also ideal for watermarks. You can apply either vaseline or petroleum jelly onto the mark directly. Allow it to sit overnight and wipe it clean in the morning.

Lemon Oil

Some people claim lemon oil removes heat stains well. Allow a few drops of lemon oil to fall onto a clean cloth or a piece of fine-grade steel wool. Then, rub the cloth on the stain directly using a back and forth motion. Try to follow the wood grain, and keep rubbing until the marks are gone.

Vinegar and Olive Oil

Alternatively, vinegar and olive oil make a powerful heat stain remover. It works for watermarks and heat stains. Mix an equal amount of vinegar with olive oil. Apply it onto the mark directly, then wipe it clean when the spots disappear.

Wood Restoration

If a heat stain is too deep to remove using the above methods, you should consider restoring the wood. The process takes a lot of hard work. However, the results are well worth your time.

To restore wood furniture, clean the surface. Sand it using 150 to 200 grit sandpaper until the stain disappears. Next, resurface the wood using oil or lacquer. These products protect and finish the wood, preventing future damage.

What Causes Heat Stains on Wood?

Heat stains take place due to the combination of moisture and heat. The wood surface expands when it comes in contact with heat, allowing water to enter. As the wood cools back down, the moisture becomes trapped in the surface and causes damage. Water can cause varying damage to wood, but white heat marks are a common stain type in wood furniture.

Heat stains appear white. If you see black marks, the stain is more likely to have been caused by rot, charring, or oxidation. It’s typical in older furniture. However, black stains require different steps to remove them.

How to Prevent Heat Marks

The best way to keep wood looking great for years to come is to prevent heat marks. It’s much easier to prevent the marks from happening than for you to remove them later.

To keep heat stains from your furniture, make sure to protect the wood.

Placing something between a hot item and the table or wood surface is your best prevention method. Use coasters, heat mats, or placemats to prevent hot items from directly touching the material. If you don’t have coasters or heat mats, you can makeshift an emergency coaster from a book or a decorative scarf.

Using a wood finish can also help protect the surface from damage, either from heat or water. A wood finish is particularly beneficial with furniture and tables.

The Best Wood Restoration Products for Heat Stains on Wood

Finally, you can purchase a wood restoration product to remove stains. These products are available in most hardware stores, and they work to restore your wood finish quickly.

Howard Products RF9008 Restor-A-Finish

how to remove heat stain from wooden tableHoward Products makes a fantastic wood restoration product called Restor-A-Finish. The formula works to restore wood finishes from nearly any type of damage. It works on minor scratches, blemishes, abrasions, heat rings, watermarks, oxidation, sun fade, smoke damage, and more. Plus, it comes in nine colors to match any wood tone.

The best part about using Restor-A-Finish to get rid of your cloudy heat stains is that it restores the finish to look new without removing the existing finish, which means you don’t have to sand the surface to use this product.

Guardsman Water Mark Remover Cloth

how to protect wood table from heat marksThe Guardsman Water Mark Remover Cloth is a powerful store-bought product for getting rid of white rings and haze, whether they’re from moisture or heat. The product tackles any mark left on a wood surface from heat, alcohol, or water. It even eliminates surface scratches and other minor blemishes. You can even use it to polish chrome or metal surfaces.

To use this stain remover, you don’t need to strip the wood finish or sand the surface. It’s simple. Just open the package and rub the cloth on the stain.

Minor or new stains only require one use, but you may need to re-apply the product for stubborn spots.


White, cloudy stains on the wood are from heat. They’re familiar and easy to remove using a variety of techniques. Ironing the stain is a go-to option for many people. Removing the stains early is the best way to keep your wooden furniture in top condition. Investing in coasters or heat mats also keeps the wood surface looking great for years to come.

Did you use our tips to get rid of heat stains from a wooden surface? Let us know in the comments if our articles helped you, and please share it with your friends or family if you found it beneficial.

Written By: Yevgen

YevgenI'm a DIY nut, and the founder and chief editor here at Weekend Builds.
This site is a result of my DIY passion, and to share the joys I have experienced fixing, building, and creating things over the years.

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