How to Remove Heat Stains from Wood: 3 Simple Methods

When you host gatherings with friends and family, there’s always a chance that someone might accidentally leave a heat stain on your coffee or dining table. Heat stains occur when hot items make contact with your wooden furniture, leaving behind a hazy white mark. This happens because the heat generates steam, causing the wood pores to expand and absorb moisture. As the wood cools, the pores shrink, trapping the moisture and resulting in a cloudy discoloration.

The good news is that you can easily remove these annoying heat stains from your wood furniture, as long as you address them promptly. Instead of resorting to sandpaper or considering donating your table, try one of the three methods outlined below. You’ll only need a few common household items, like a hairdryer or toothpaste, and a bit of time.

Before You Start

Some people believe that heat stains will fade away on their own, but the truth is quite the opposite. Heat stains are easiest to remove when dealt with promptly. The longer you let them linger on your dining table, the more challenging it becomes to get rid of them.

Keep in mind that while these methods are generally effective, they may not work for every piece of furniture or every type of heat stain, especially those that have been there for an extended period. However, trying one of these quick tricks increases the chances of releasing the trapped moisture and restoring your wood furniture to its original beauty.


Toothpaste does more than just clean teeth – its alkaline properties make it effective at lifting stains from wood. Stick to plain white toothpaste, as gels or colored varieties won’t work.

Create a mixture of one part toothpaste and two parts baking soda, forming a thick paste. Apply this paste to heat stains and white marks, let it sit for a minute, and then wipe it off. Repeat until you achieve the desired results.


Surprisingly, mayonnaise is a proven method for removing heat stains from wood furniture. Packed with natural oils, mayonnaise penetrates wood pores to release trapped moisture. Like the toothpaste method, apply mayonnaise to a smooth cloth and generously wipe it onto the stain.

Unlike toothpaste, leave the mayonnaise on the heat stain for a few hours or even overnight. Afterward, wipe off the excess and buff out the remaining stain.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly works similarly to mayonnaise due to its oil content. If you have petroleum jelly on hand, apply a layer to the stained surface using a clean rag. Let it set for a few hours before returning to clean and buff the area.

Vinegar and Olive Oil

Combine vinegar and olive oil for a potent mixture that effectively fights wood heat stains. Vinegar, known for removing stains from clothing, works well on wood too. Mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar, then use a paintbrush or a clean rag to apply the mixture to the wood surface.

Be cautious not to use too much, and let it sit for about an hour before checking its progress. After wiping off the surface, dry and polish the wood.

Salt and Olive Oil

Using a combination of olive oil and salt for heat stain removal is like using a concentrated version of mayonnaise. The oil penetrates the wood and opens the pores, while the salt dries them out, reducing the overall moisture content and minimizing discoloration from heat stains.

Any type of olive or vegetable oil can be used. Create a paste by mixing the oil and salt, apply it to the stain, let it sit for an hour, and then wipe off the excess. Repeat as necessary.


While sanding wood furniture is a highly effective method for removing heat stains, it should be a last resort due to its time-consuming nature, skill requirement, and potential risk to your furniture if not done carefully.

Avoid using a powerful circular sander, as it can damage areas without stains. Instead, use a handheld sanding block to gently grind down the stain. Once the stain is no longer visible, remove as much dust as possible and reapply the finish to match the rest of the piece.

Preventing Heat Stains

To avoid the hassle of removing heat stains from wood, it’s wise to invest in prevention. Practical items like coasters for mugs, trivets for pots and pans, and placemats for everyday use act as proactive barriers against heat stains. These home decor accessories not only shield your wood furniture but also provide an opportunity to enhance its style. In a pinch, you can even place a potholder or oven mitt under hot items on wood surfaces.

Final Thoughts on Heat Stain Removal

Dealing with heat stains on wood isn’t a complicated task, and it’s a valuable skill to possess. Even high-quality furniture can fall victim to a hot coffee mug or a sizzling skillet. Swiftly addressing heat stains will save you both time and money in the long run.

Using a bit of heat is the simplest, most economical, and effective way to remove heat stains from wood furniture. It’s advisable to employ this method first before considering alternative techniques mentioned above to ensure a successful stain removal process.

Leave a Comment