Tips for Removing Water Stains on Furniture

A woman cleaning a couch with water stains.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-70
What You'll Need
Clean sponge
Clean cloth
Fabric soap
White vinegar
Steam iron
Rubbing alcohol
Cigarette ash
Vegetable or linseed oil
Hard furniture wax
Leather polish

Being able to remove a water stain is essential if you want to keep your furniture looking its best for years to come. It is a task you can undertake without the services of a professional cleaner. Here we walk you through removing water stains from a variety of surfaces.


Though wooden furniture is often lacquered, it can still suffer marks that require removal. You may have noticed white ring marks that have been left behind by a cold glass that cannot be removed with furniture polish and a little elbow grease. This type of stain requires a more abrasive cleaner. To remove the stain, apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a cloth and rub at the surface of the wood while regularly checking its status. Once it has disappeared, wipe the surface with a clean cloth before buffing it with some hard furniture wax.

In the event that this process fails to remove the water stain, use a paste made from a mixture of cigarette ash and oil. Rub this mixture into the surface, working with the grain of the wood, before wiping it away with a cloth and finishing off with some wax.


Removing water stains is necessary when it comes to leather, as an ugly white ring is often left behind when leather comes into contact with water. Lightly dampen a clean sponge with water, making sure that it is not soaking so that you do not wet the leather more than necessary. Gently rub at the ring left by the water, starting at the middle of the spot and gradually working your way outward. Leave this to air dry before applying a small amount of leather polish to the area and buffing it in accordance with the instructions.


The method of removing a water stain when dealing with fabric depends on the location of the stain and how easy it is to manipulate the furniture. For example, some water stains can be ironed out. When the water stain is on a sofa cushion, remove the cover and lightly dampen the stain with a wet cloth before ironing the reverse side of the fabric on a low heat. Alternatively, rub the stain with a small amount of white vinegar before rinsing it with clean water and leaving it to air dry.

For fabric furniture that has to remain in place, use an iron to steam the stain before laying a towel on the surface and pressing firmly to soak up the water. Alternatively, dampen the stained area with water and apply a little fabric soap before rubbing it into the surface. Rinse with some clean water before covering the area with a towel and pressing it firmly at different points to soak up the excess water. Leave it to air dry.


Wipe the surface with a small amount of white vinegar until the water stain is gone and then wipe the area with a clean dry cloth.