How to remove water stains from a lacquer finish wood surface

Updated February 21, 2017

Water stains appear as white rings or smudges on a wood surface with a lacquer finish. Water dries on the wood, but leaves behind minerals that show up as white stains or crust embedded into the surface of the wood. The minerals normally contain calcium or magnesium. Removing the stains completely requires a substance that softens their grasp on the wood surface.

Wipe dust from the lacquer finish with a clean cloth.

Put 1 tsp of petroleum jelly onto the water stains. Gently rub the jelly into the marks on the wood surface with your fingers. Allow the jelly to remain on the stains overnight.

Wipe the jelly from the wood surface with a damp sponge.

Spray the wood surface with furniture polish, and wipe it clean with a soft cloth.

Pour 2 tbsp of rubbing alcohol onto a soft cloth.

Rub the alcohol over the water stains, inspecting the marks as you rub. Add more alcohol to the cloth if required to remove the stains completely.

Wipe the alcohol from the wood surface with a clean cloth.

Spray furniture polish on the area to restore shine that the alcohol may have stripped away. Wipe the polish from the wood with a soft cloth.


Use coasters on wood surfaces to keep water stains from occurring.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloths
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Furniture polish
  • Rubbing alcohol
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About the Author

Constance Barker, located in the hills of southern Ohio, is the owner and writer of several financial, credit report and travel websites. She started writing in 1999 for private clients and began creating website content in 2004. She gained expertise in home improvement after she and her husband built their home themselves.