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Testing 7 Easy Ways To Get Heat Stains Out Of Wood (With Video And Tips)

I put 4 big white heat marks on wood to test 7 EASY ways to get heat stains out of wood. Surprisingly 3 WORKED, 4 FAILED! Here’s the steps!

How To Get Heat Stains Out Of Wood

Six years ago, I accidentally put a big, white heat mark on my wood table. After a bunch of research, I decided to try removing the heat stains with a steam iron. AND, I was shocked to see that it worked!

But, you have to use an iron on heat stains CAREFULLY or it could make things worse. In this post I share what you need to know before you remove a heat stain on wood with an iron.

And, after purposely putting 4 large white heat marks on that same table, I tested 7 other popular ways to remove heat haze or water stains. Surprisingly 3 WORKED & 4 FAILED!

I actually had better results using a hairdryer to remove heat stains on wood than I did with the iron. Let’s go over what I tried, the pros and cons of each, and a few warnings before you repair a heat stain.

Image shows how to remove a heat mark on wood with a blow dryer. For a post about ways to get rid of heat stains on wood tables.
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How To Get Rid Of White Heat Marks On A Wood Table

You can easily get rid of white heat marks on wood tables, furniture, and flooring with products that most people already have in their homes.

From hair dryers to irons and Vaseline to Baking Soda, there are tons of hacks to get rid of heat marks on wood. Check out this video to see me testing the 6 methods I discuss below.

Testing 7 EASY Ways To Get A Heat Stain Out Of Wood! 🤓 Clean With Me

How To Remove Heat Stains From Wood: 7 Ways


There are many types of wood finishes and products that can be applied to wood. All of them might have a different reaction to these tests.

Something that worked well for my table with a newer varnish topcoat, might not work on an antique table or oil-based topcoat.

Something that DID NOT work on my table, might work quickly on wood with a different finish.

Putting hot rags on a wood table causes white heat marks.
I started this test by putting 4 large white heat marks on my wood table.

Generally, you want to get a heat stain out of wood tables or furniture so that you don’t have to strip and refinish them.

BUT, there’s always a chance that one of these methods can make the heat mark worse. Then you’ll have to refinish the table anyway. Just keep that in mind before trying any of these.

So, FOR EVERY ONE OF THESE METHODS, take things slow and test in short bursts of time to see how your topcoat handles the method before extending the length of a treatment.

Watch the video at the end of this post for a better look at how I did each test on my table.

1. How To Remove Heat Stains On Wood With A Hair Dryer

You really can remove heat stains on wood with a hair dryer. Set the blow dryer to high heat, then wave the blow dryer over the stain.

Start a few inches above the table, waving the heat over a small, two inch area so that the heat stain can heat up. That will open the pores in the topcoat up so that the moisture causing the stain can escape.

Using a blow dryer to repair heat marks on wood tables is the easiest way to remove a heat stain or water ring.
Touch the surface of the table often to be sure that the finish isn’t softening or becoming gummy.

After 20 or 30 seconds, touch the topcoat to make sure that the topcoat on your wood isn’t becoming gummy. If the topcoat feels as hard as usual, continue with the heat until the stain disappears.

You can also move the dryer closer to the table to speed up the heat stain repair, as long as the finish isn’t becoming gummy after applying heat.

I was able to remove a large, 8″x8″ heat stain in about 10 minutes with my hair dryer. I kept the blow dryer on high heat about 1/4″ above small sections of the stain until the whole heat stain was repaired.

Overall, the blow dryer is my pick for the best way to remove white heat stains on wood tables and furniture.

2. Repair White Heat Stains On Wood With Iron

Some people insist that a hot iron, without steam, is the best way to remove water rings and heat marks on wood. So, I gave it a try. Start by setting your iron to cotton, then give it a few minutes to heat up.

Once my iron was hot, I placed a folded tea towel on my heat stain and started ironing the spot. You want to keep the iron slowly moving, just like when ironing clothes.

That way one spot doesn’t heat up too much. It’s important to lift the iron up every 15 to 20 seconds to release some of that heat too.

Image of someone using an iron on heat stains on wood.
A dry iron with hot heat didn’t work on my varnish finish. Maybe it works on other finishes or types of wood??

Unfortunately, after about 6 minutes of ironing, I gave up on this method. It didn’t work at all for me. But, I’ve seen MANY people in Facebook groups insist that this is how to remove heat stains with an iron.

So, maybe a hot, dry iron works on other types of wood or finishes. I don’t know. Be sure to comment on my YouTube video below if a hot, dry iron worked on your heat stains.

A hot iron with steam DOES work on heat stains, at least on my table. Let’s move to that method now.

3. How To Remove Heat Stains On Wood With A Steam Iron

Yes, you can use an iron with a stream setting to repair heat stains, water rings, and white heat marks on wood.

Start by filling the iron with water, then set the heat setting to Cotton, then let the iron heat up for a few minutes. Once the iron is ready, place a folded tea towel or plain, folded t-shirt over the heat stain.

Using a steam iron to remove a white heat mark on a wood table.
Adding water or using a steam iron to get a heat stain out of wood works well on this table.

Place the iron on the tea towel and press the steam button before moving the iron over the spot in the same slow way that you’d normally iron clothes.

But, it’s important to lift the iron and the tea towel up every 15 to 20 seconds to release the steam and check the stain. If you don’t do this, the heat stain on your wood CAN GET WORSE.

So, it takes a bit of trial and error when it comes to using a steam iron on heat marks.

How to use a steam iron to repair heat marks on wood.
Using water and a hot iron removed this large water stain in just a few minutes.

Place the tea towel over the stain, press the steam button while ironing the heat mark, lift the iron and tea towel every 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat until the heat stain has been fixed.

If your heat stain ONLY gets worse or if the finish on your table becomes gummy or soft when heat is applied, stop testing this method. Your finish just doesn’t repair well with heat.

Maybe try testing number 5 instead.

4. Remove Heat Stains From Wood With Baking Soda

I’ve often been told that you can use baking soda to remove heat stains too. So, I tested this on my table. And, it wasn’t that impressive, compared to the other methods.

I mixed up about 1/4 cup of baking soda with a teaspoon of water. That’s just enough to mix the baking soda into a paste.

Then I applied a thick layer of the baking soda to the heat stain on my wood table and left it for 3 hours.

Using baking soda on a white heat stain on a wood table.
I mixed up a thick paste of baking soda with just a little water.

After waiting 3 hours, I wiped away the paste to see that the heat stain was only slightly better. Maybe, if I had left it on for 12 hours or more, it might have removed the heat stain.

Or, maybe baking soda works better on heat marks on different types of wood finishes. My table has a varnish topcoat. Maybe baking soda works on oil-based finishes?? I don’t know.

If your wood table has a soft or gummy finish that won’t work with heat, maybe baking soda will work on your wood table.

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5. Remove Heat Stains From Wood With Toothpaste And Baking Soda

I mixed 2/3rds baking soda with 1/3 standard white toothpaste. Supposedly, this won’t work with gel toothpaste. Then I applied a pretty thick layer of it over the entire heat stain on my wood table.

After testing just baking soda, I was skeptical about whether or not this toothpaste baking soda combo would actually work.

Using toothpaste and baking soda to remove a heat stain on wood tables.
After a successful 20 minute test with baking soda and toothpaste, I decided it was safe to leave the mix on overnight.

BUT, it actually worked pretty well after just 20 minutes. The toothpaste and baking soda mix visibly improved the white heat haze way better than Vaseline and just baking soda alone had in 3 hours.

So, I decided to see how it would do when left overnight. And, it worked perfectly!! My entire heat stain disappeared by the time I wiped it off my table, about 15 hours later.

So, if you’re afraid to use heat on your table, or can’t use heat, you can try this method for removing heat marks on wood. I recommend testing the mix for 20 minutes first.

Then completely wipe the toothpaste and baking soda mix off to be sure that the top coat on your table hasn’t etched, softened, or worsened.

If it looks fine, go ahead and reapply that same mix for another 20 minutes or longer. Wipe off and repeat until the stain is gone.

Showing how baking soda and toothpaste can remove heat marks on wood.
When I wiped it away the next morning, that water stain was 98% gone. Maybe repeating the process would have removed it completely. But, I decided to completely remove the heat stain with a hairdryer, to save time.

6. Remove Heat Marks On Wood With Vaseline

I often see Vaseline, aka Petroleum Jelly recommended as a way to remove water rings and heat marks too. So, since it sounds so simple, I had to give it a try.

Unfortunately, this one didn’t work for me. I left a thick layer of Vaseline on my heat stain for 3 hours before wiping it away. There was only the slightest improvement over that 3 hours.

Again, maybe letting it sit for longer would have removed the stain. Or, maybe it works better on wood that has a different type of topcoat.

But, since the blow dryer and steam iron work so quickly on my varnish table top, I’d rather use them to repair heat marks and water ring stains.

Testing Vaseline as a way to get rid of heat marks and water rings.
Vaseline didn’t really seem to work on this heat stain.

Can You Remove Heat Stains From Wood With Mayonnaise?

I’ve often been told that mayonnaise can remove heat stains. You apply a thickish layer of mayonnaise, leave it on for a few hours, then wipe it away with a clean cloth. Then repeat, if neccessary.

I DID NOT test mayonnaise on my heat stain because of the scratches in the topcoat, or finish on my wood table.

I was afraid that the oils in mayonnaise would soak into the scratches on the wood, causing the raw wood under the scratch to darken, and the finish in that spot to POP OFF or release from the wood in that spot.

That type of damage to the finish is permanent. You would have to strip the old finish off to repair that damage.

I would avoid using mayonnaise on heat stains if the topcoat on your wood table or furniture has scratches.

Are Heat Stains On Wood Permanent?

Almost every heat mark, water ring, and white heat stain can be removed from wood. They aren’t permanent. There are many popular DIY methods for removing heat stains.

Check out the 6 options I tested above to see my steps, tips, and results before deciding which one would work best on your tables finish.

How To Remove Water Rings On Wood

If you want an easy way to remove water rings on wood, try using a hair dryer on the water ring.

Set the blow dryer to medium high or high heat, then wave it over the ring for about 5 minutes to get rid of water rings on wood. Read the additional tips for using a hairdryer near the beginning of this post.

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That’s it for how to get heat stains out of wood tables and furniture. Here’s some of my favorite Home Cleaning tips, you might like.

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