Removing white ring stain from wood table?

misenplaceJune 9, 2009

Help! One of my kids left a cereal bowl, with milk that had apparently dripped, on a beautiful old table that belonged to my great uncle. Unfortunately, I didn't discover it until the end of the day, and it left a white ring stain. Anyone know the best way to get it out?

The table is stained mahogany wood.

Thanks!

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oceanna

Did you try Scott's Scratchkote on it? I use that on scratches on medium-to-dark furniture. Not sure about rings, though. Maybe RAF?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 4:31PM
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2ajsmama

Don't put anything on it! The white ring is moisture under the finish, not something on the finish that can be scrubbed off. If you're sure you wiped up the milk and it's not dried on, then just wait and see what evaporation does. It won't hurt the table any to wait a few days. If it still has a ring by this weekend (and your house is dry) then come back and post.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 4:46PM
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jones123_123

My brother told me Renu A Finish and fine steel wool will remove water stains from real wood and it does. You can buy it at HD and some hardware stores. They have a mahogany color.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 5:21PM
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2ajsmama

Don't touch the original finish unless you find you can't dry the ring out. Put a dehumidifier in the room, run the AC, whatever you have to do to dry it out a bit. Use a hair dryer on LOW if you're brave but don't leave it in that spot for long, or get it too close or you'll melt the finish. If you don't want to take my word for it, post over at the Woodworking and/or Antiques forums. You could end up doing more damage by putting something (oil or wax or abrasive or solvent) on it right now than just the white ring which could disappear on its own, or might just need a *little* dry heat.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 5:26PM
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bronwynsmom

My mother used to rub white rings with cigarette ashes and a wet rag. If you can find cigarette ashes!
She also has used walnut meats.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 5:34PM
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mclarke

IF you wait a few days and IF the ring doesn't dry out on its own, you might try rubbing the spot with toothpaste. Toothpaste is a very fine abrasive, and what you'll be doing is removing the very top of the finish layer without removing the entire layer.

I have used toothpaste to remove white rings from furniture. Try it in a very small area and see whether it works for you.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 5:51PM
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bellaflora

My table got white rings & damage from steam all the time (pizza box, chinese take out, hot bowl of soup, etc). I just place a plain white piece of paper on the white mark, then use a dry iron, set on low and iron the spot. The mark would be gone.

I heard that mayonaise work on white ring - tried it but didn't work for me. The iron trick works like a charm.

Hope this help.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 5:57PM
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deeinohio

I recently had this problem with a glass of water my grandson left unnoticed for a couple of days on a table in the dining room. After an internet search, I tried kitty litter, the clumping type, to draw out the moisture. It worked perfectly. I left it there for a couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 8:48PM
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happytobehome

I use this - see link below. It worked very well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ring remover

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:42PM
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huggybear_2008

We always used the ashes also, hard to find now since a lot of folks have quit smoking.. I would say go to one of your local bars and get their ash trays, but now the bars do not let them smoke.. I would not do anything that may hurt the finish by rubbing it or etc. sounds like some of the folks here have some good ideas. to try..
Good Luck
Huggy

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 12:05PM
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Patricia43

The ashes are the best thing and if you are not too tight on money, you could buy a pack of cigarettes, light one and save the ashes. Let them burn and they make great ashes, long ashes. After you have lit a whole pack, you have invested $5.00 or $10 and saved a good piece of furniture. You can also put dry cat litter on the table in that area (which will dry it quicker). I use that on my lawn when we have had an extremely wet spell and I start seeing fungus on the lawn.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 12:14PM
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misenplace

Thank you for all of the ideas! Now I just have to decide which method to try and I will report back with my results :-)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 3:39PM
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bronwynsmom

One more note...not a wet rag, I remember. Mother used ashes and spit. (You spit on the rag, not the table!) Probably something to do with the acids in saliva? Or is it just the mysterious magic of Momspit?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 3:50PM
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2ajsmama

Ashes and toothpaste are fine abrasives that will remove the top layer of finish and maybe the ring if the moisture didn't penetrate too far. The best methods will just dry the ring out - I've heard of using an iron (but I'd be afraid to), I've never heard of using kitty litter but as long as it was the clay type with no chemicals added that might pit the finish it might work. Old-timers used rottenstone and mineral oil as an abrasive.

There are also solvents if a gentle abrasive doesn't work - depending on the original finish, either denatured alcohol (for shellac) or lacquer thinner would remove the finish and the moisture trapped under it. But depending on how far down you take the finish (either with solvents or abrasive), you may end up having to refinish the piece. That's why it's best to just try to dry it out.

Furniture polish or wax will not take it out, neither will any kind of oil. Some people swear by mayo, PB or olive oil, but it'll just sit there on the surface (or if the finish is compromised it'll get down under it and I think could add to your problem) - it won't draw the moisture out or remove the finish on top of the moisture. The only reason to use an oil is as a lubricant for a fine abrasive.

Let us know if the ring gets better in the next few days by itself, and what you've decided to do if it doesn't. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 4:53PM
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Patricia43

We always used the ashes also, hard to find now since a lot of folks have quit smoking.. I would say go to one of your local bars and get their ash trays, but now the bars do not let them smoke.. I would not do anything that may hurt the finish by rubbing it or etc. sounds like some of the folks here have some good ideas. to try..
Good Luck
Huggy

Or call the White House. There must be a ton of ashes there since the president smokes 3 packs a day.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 5:01PM
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eandhl

I have a friend that I know has had good luck with mayonnaise. She is working but I looked this up ---
Here's a trick to remove those nasty rings. First, make sure that the surface is clean and dry. Next, place a small amount of mayonnaise directly over the ring. Cover the area with a piece of plastic wrap and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and lightly rub the mayonnaise into the finish using a nylon scouring pad and working in the direction of the grain. Wipe up all the mayonnaise with a soft cloth and restore the luster to the area with some lemon oil or paste wax. And that's the On The House tip for today.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 7:12PM
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cooperbailey

I removed a white coffee cup ring from my 1940s dining table. After several months- mainly cause I didnt know what to try- I used Restore a finish in mahognany color to match the table. followed directions on the can, first using a cloth which didnt do much and then the steel wool they recommended it is gone and the table looks great. I recommend it highly.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 7:38PM
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bellaflora

I was freaked out when first use the iron too. The steam iron does not work (make it worse) but the dry iron work very well.

I heard you can also blowdry the spot after putting on the mayo. didn't work for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:06PM
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misenplace

SUCCESS!

So, after reading all of your ideas, I decided to try the hairdryer first (mostly b/c it sounded like the easiest & quickest thing to try) and I'm happy to report it worked perfectly!

I started on low, but it didn;t seem to be doing anything, so I turned it up to high (it took longer and more heat than I thought it would) and kept rubbing the wood with an old, DRY washcloth at the same time (I have no idea if that actually helped at all, but that's what I did). The finish is fine, and you can't tell the ring was there at all.

Thanks again, everyone!!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:26PM
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2ajsmama

I'm glad the hair dryer worked.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 8:01AM
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jenniern_msn_com

I agree with the hair dryer idea. My son left a ring of milk from his cereal bowl overnight, so there was a ring that couldn't be wiped up. I held the hairdryer over the ring on high for about 5 minutes, and now it's completely gone, with no damage to the table. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 10:12AM
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