Causing a heat stain on wood in your home is one of the easiest mistakes you can make, and it happens fast! Unfortunately, it’s possible to cause serious cosmetic damage to your expensive furniture in a matter of just seconds. A fresh pizza box on the dining room table, a steaming coffee mug on the hutch, a hair straightener set down on your vanity – these are incredibly unsuspecting things that can ruin your cherished belongings.
Before you learn how to remove these unsightly heat stains, you should familiarize yourself with why they form.
How Does Heat Cause Stains in Wood?
When you place a piping hot item, like a dinner plate, on real wood, heat and steam open the wood’s natural pores and the area fills with moisture. The wood then cools and the moisture becomes trapped.
This typically results in a white, foggy patch on your tabletop. This is an anxiety-provoking but common occurrence. Luckily, there are some tips you can try to reduce or remove the staining from your wood.
There is no one-size-fits-all remedy when treating heat stains, so you may need to try several options before seeing good results.
Wood type, finish, timing, and cause of the stain will all make a difference in which tips work best for your situation.
9 Ways to Treat Heat Stains in Wood
One way to reduce the moisture in the stain is to use heat to draw it out.
Get out your iron and warm it up to a medium temperature setting. Make sure the steam function is off. Place a dry towel over the stain and iron back and forth over the spot. Keep the iron moving briskly, so the towel does not melt to the surface. Do this just a few seconds at a time and continue to check the stain. Repeat as necessary.
You may choose to increase the temperature but do so with caution as it could cause more damage. The heat of the iron will draw the moisture from the wood, lessening the appearance of the discoloration.
2. Hair Dryer
If you don’t have an iron handy, a hairdryer is another common household item you can use to treat the stain.
Place a towel over the stain to avoid burns and blow-dry the area, starting on a medium heat setting. Be sure to check the mark every few seconds and repeat as necessary.
Again, you may increase the heat if needed but proceed with caution to avoid further damage. The heat from the hairdryer should help to absorb the moisture from the stain, reducing its appearance.
3. Toothpaste and Baking Soda
Some people have found success with toothpaste and baking soda. Mix the two ingredients together, rub thoroughly into the stain, sit for a few minutes, and then wipe dry.
The baking soda is alkaline and tough on stains, while the toothpaste allows it to penetrate the wood better.
4. Oil and Salt
Combine equal parts cooking oil and salt. Rub this mixture into the stain with a cloth. Allow it to sit on the stain for approximately 30 minutes and then remove. The salt is said to draw out the trapped moisture while the oil fills the whitened pores of the wood.
5. Vinegar and Olive Oil
Vinegar and oil is another combination that also works by penetrating the wood, pushing out moisture particles, and then replenishing the wood pores with oils. Use white vinegar and whatever cooking oil you have on hand to make a mixture of equal parts. Apply this mixture to the stain with a cloth and allow to sit for approximately 30 minutes, then wipe clean.
You could attempt to use mayonnaise to resolve your stain. Use a cloth to rub mayonnaise into the stain and let sit for about two hours. After it’s had a chance to sit, wipe with a dry cloth.
The idea behind this trick is that the oils in the mayonnaise will replenish the wood’s pores that were fogged up by the heat. In addition to mayo, furniture polish or petroleum jelly is said to work similarly.
If you have time to spare and want to try the easiest and least expensive method of removing heat stains, just wait it out. Over time, the moisture in the stain will very slowly but surely begin to evaporate. As the moisture in the wood lessens, the white mark will fade, though it’s not guaranteed to disappear completely.
8. Blush Eraser
Blush Eraser is an aerosol product that you can buy at your local home improvement store. It’s a clear chemical that you spray on the surface of white, cloudy wood stains. The spray pushes the trapped moisture out of the wood. Just spray it over the stain and use a small paintbrush to distribute it evenly. If you’ve tried other methods and nothing has worked, you may opt to purchase this as your next option. It can be found for around $10-$15.
9. Consult an Expert
If you are dealing with an heirloom, antique, or especially high-value piece, it is probably best to consult an expert furniture restorer for your safest course of action. You will pay the price for sure, but this is the safest way to best improve the stain without causing further damage to anything irreplaceable.
How to Prevent Heat Stains in Wood
Once you’ve found yourself with a heat stain on your furniture and had to scramble to find a remedy, it’s obvious that it’s a mistake you don’t want to make twice! It’s important to know how to prevent heat stains in your furniture and incorporate them into everyday life so they become a habit!
Tablecloths and placemats are an easy, inexpensive way to cover tables, and you don’t have to think twice when placing things down wherever. However, they can hide the look of the furniture and be inconvenient to clean.
As an alternative, you can find stylish coasters and trivets in almost every color, style, and material. Items like these can double as decor, but you need to be more deliberate about making sure they are used and not overlooked when placing hot objects down.
When you purchase a piece of furniture, consider its uses and finish material and decide if it needs to be further protected with a layer or additional layers of polyurethane top coating. This can be a hassle, but ensuring your furniture is safer from heat and water damage may be worth it.
As you can see, heat stains in wood are a common household issue. Luckily, you now know a few ways to better protect your wood moving forward and several tips to remove the stains if they do occur. It’s always easier to work on preventing the damage from the start, so make sure you have a designated place for hot (or wet) items on all of your wooden furniture!
A helpful note is that most of the tips explained here would also be applicable when dealing with water rings in wood as both issues have trapped moisture as the root cause!