How to Remove Heat Stains from Wooden Tables

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If you have wooden surfaces at home, you would know how elegant and natural-looking they can be. However, scratches, spots, and stains can make your furniture look worn down instead, which is why a heat stain is an eyesore on any wood table. Here's how you can remove these marks:

What Causes Heat Stains?

Those white heat stains on your wood tables left behind from your piping hot mug of coffee or hot pizza box is a result of the wood expanding due to heat. When this happens, moisture creates a steam that settles on the surface of the wood, causing that white discoloration you see.

While heat marks don't severely damage your furniture, they can be eyesores on your otherwise elegant wood furniture. Removing heat stains, however, will require some time, effort, and a lot of elbow grease!

What You'll Need

You can't just remove heat stains using a regular household cleaner. You'll need cleaning solutions and pastes that have a gentle abrasive action: like a baking soda and toothpaste mixture. Other methods include using an iron to remove the marks. Here's what you'll need:

Toothpaste Method

  • Plain, non-gel toothpaste
  • Baking soda

Iron Method

  • Clothes iron - do not use a steam iron
  • Thick blanket or tea towel

Petroleum Jelly Method

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Olive oil
  • Clean cloth
  • Soft-bristled brush

How to Remove Heat Stains from Wooden Table: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Dry the Wood Surface

Take a clean, dry cloth, and wipe the entire wood surface dry. This will remove any excess moisture and oils from the surface of your wooden furniture, and give you a clean space to work with. Remove any items from your table as well to get rid of any obstructions from cleaning.

Step 2: Remove Heat Stain

There are three methods you can use to remove heat stains from wood. One involves the use of a gentle abrasive to get rid of the mark, while another evaporates trapped moisture with heat. Oily products can remove light stains from wood furniture without needing to use heat or abrasives.

Assess the gravity of the heat stain on your furniture before deciding on a method to go with. Light stains on wood may only need some vaseline to remove the trapped moisture, moderate stains can be removed with a bit of toothpaste without damaging the varnish or the wood, and deep stains may need some help from an iron to remove.

Remove Heat Stains with Toothpaste

Create a thick paste out of toothpaste and baking soda in a 1:2 ratio. Apply the paste directly on the heat stain, and use a clean cloth or soft brush to scrub the mixture in a gentle, circular motion. The baking soda would act as an abrasive to scrub the heat stains from wood, while the alkaline paste lifts the stain out.

Remove Heat Stains with Iron

While it may sound ironic, the heat of an iron can actually remove heat stains from wood by evaporating any remaining moisture trapped just beneath the surface of the wood, which may be causing the stain to appear.

Cover the stain with a thick tea towel, and place your iron on its lowest heat setting. Run the iron directly over the tea towel, focusing on the area where the stain is located. Check the stain from time to time to see if the heat is removing heat marks, and to make sure you're not making the stain worse. Keep ironing until the stain is completely gone.

Remove White Heat Stains with Petroleum Jelly

Use a soft cloth or paper towel to apply vaseline directly on the heat stain. Rub the vaseline in, and let it sit overnight to work on the stain. The next morning, wipe the vaseline off, and use a microfiber cloth to buff out the surface. The stain should be gone as the oily solution released the moisture trapped in the wood.

Step 3: Polish with Olive Oil

Once you've gotten each heat stain out, then you can now polish your wood furniture. It is a good idea to polish wood surfaces to prevent moisture from damaging the material from within. Use a mineral oil based product, or a few drops of olive oil to polish your furniture. Avoid using too much oil as it may make your wood table sticky.

Step 4: Seal Wooden Surface (Optional)

This step is optional, but it will help protect your wood furniture from white heat marks, stains from oily substances, moisture damage, mold, and rot. To seal your wood furniture, you will need a wood sealant from your local hardware store, or epoxy resin. You may also have your furniture professionally sealed if you're not confident doing so yourself.

Follow the instructions on the wood sealant, and cover your entire wooden table with the seal or epoxy resin. Make sure every area is covered with the protective seal, and let the solution set for the time mentioned in the instructions, and avoid touching or using your wood table until the seal is fully cured.

Prevent Heat Marks on Wood Furniture

The most obvious way to prevent heat marks on wood is to avoid placing hot items on the surface. However, this is easier said than done, especially if your kitchen countertop has a wood surface. Here are some tips to prevent forming a white heat stain on wood:

  • Use heat mats to keep hot dishes, pots, pans, and mugs from damaging your wood table.
  • Clean your wood tables regularly, and immediately wipe any spills or water left on the surface.
  • Use coasters for your drinks to prevent condensation from forming white rings on the wood.
  • Seal the surface with an epoxy resin, glass sheet, or a similar covering to create a barrier between the wood and any heat source.

Cleaning Up

Start getting your home spic and span with Luce Home cleaning services! Our experienced cleaning experts are well-versed in removing all sorts of stains, grime, and dirt from your home, so you can trust that we can get the job done right!

Contact us today, and we can schedule you for a cleaning session at your earliest convenience! 

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