How to Remove Water Stains in Photoshop

Updated February 21, 2017

Adobe’s Photoshop graphics software has become one of the top choices for designers, photographers and artists. Before Photoshop, if you had taken a picture that was blurred, interrupted, mis-aimed or poorly timed, you were stuck with whatever the film produced. But now you can scan or load it into Photoshop and enhance your image, add new elements or, in some cases, even touch up and fix problems such as water stains that may have ruined a picture in the past.

Open the problem photo in Photoshop. Go to the "File" menu at the very top left of the toolbar, then select "Open" and click "Browse" to find your image.

Zoom in on the area with the water stain; hit your "Ctrl" key and use the plus sign (+) to get the damaged area as centred and big as possible on your screen.

Find an area next to the water stain (with the same colours and patterns; for example, if your photo is of a man wearing a blue T-shirt and part of his T-shirt has the water stain on it, zoom up so that the water stain and an unstained part of his shirt are both on your screen).

Click the Clone Stamp tool, which is in the main tools palette on the left of your screen. (It looks like a little craft stamper or something someone would use to stamp “Canceled” on a check.)

Adjust the Clone Stamp properties at the top of the screen; choose the brush size best suited to your area. For example, if your water stain is small, select a round dot brush of nine. Leave the other options as their defaults.

Move your cursor on top of your picture; notice it is now a round, empty circle. Hover your cursor over an area of the picture that is similar to the water stained part (such as an unstained part of the same T-shirt). Press and hold down the "Alt" key. Notice your cursor turns into a stamper.

Click your mouse button one time on the non-stained area. Release the "Alt" key and then move your cursor to the stained spot. Click and hold your mouse key and then drag it around the stain. Notice how the non-stained part of the T-shirt now appears in the stained spot.

Repeat this process all around the stained area, making the spot look uniform with the rest of the picture.

Save your picture by going to "File," "Save As" and renaming it. (Never use "File" and then "Save" because this will overwrite your original.)


If water has stained multiple spots on your photo, you’ll need to repeat the "Alt" clicking process for each different place. Just put your cursor on the nearest unstained spot that matches (such as the knee of the man’s trousers) and then move to the stained spot (such as the cuffs).

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Digital image
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About the Author

Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.