How do I treat heat marks on a wooden table?

Updated February 21, 2017

Laying hot dishes directly on a wooden table may leave white marks on the surface. The heat from the dish or hot food containers, such as pizza boxes or Chinese takeout, scorches the wood finish. Soap and water cannot remove the heat marks, as the blemishes require a steaming action or slight abrasion to lift the stains from the table. Use the correct techniques to restore your wooden table.

Clean any dust and crumbs from the wooden table, using a damp dishrag. Dry the table with a soft cloth.

Lay a thin cotton towel over the heat mark.

Fill a steam iron with distilled water. Turn the iron to "High" with the steam on, and let it heat up for five minutes.

Place the iron on top of the towel and allow it to sit for 30 seconds. Remove the iron and look under the towel. If the mark remains, replace the towel and iron over the mark, and leave the towel in place for another 30 seconds. Continue applying the towel and iron until the mark disappears.

Squeeze 1/2 inch of nongel toothpaste onto the heat mark.

Sprinkle 1 tbsp of baking soda over the toothpaste.

Rub the toothpaste and baking soda into the area, using a clean cloth. Use light pressure as you rub the paste in circles into the heat mark.

Remove the paste, using a damp sponge. Dry the area with a clean cloth. Inspect the wooden table. If the stain remains, reapply the toothpaste and baking soda until the mark disappears. After removing the mark, wipe the area clean with the sponge and dry it with a clean cloth.

Spray furniture polish over the wooden table. Buff it clean with a soft cloth to restore the shine.


If the table is an antique or has a delicate finish, try holding the steam iron just above the towel instead of pressing directly on it.

Things You'll Need

  • Dishrag
  • Cloths
  • Iron
  • Distilled water
  • Nongel toothpaste
  • Baking soda
  • Furniture polish
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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.