How to Remove Water Stains on Wood Veneer

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Things You'll Need

  • 2-4 tbsp. oxalic acid

  • Heat resistant glass jar

  • 1 pt. hot water

  • Rubber gloves

  • Sponge

  • Clean dry cloth

  • 1 tsp. ammonia

  • 1 qt. water

  • Sandpaper

  • Iron

  • Paste wax

  • Steel wool

  • Mineral or cooking oil

  • Pumice powder

Immediate action is always crucial after an episode that can lead to a stain. The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove. The best case scenario concerning water stains on wood is to soak up any water with an absorbent cloth immediately. Having wood with a wax finish decreases the chance of a stain setting in. If a water stain penetrates your wood veneer, there are two ways to remove it. One involves a harsh chemical, the other lots of elbow grease.


Oxalic Acid

Step 1

Pour oxalic acid into a heat-resistant glass jar. Add hot water and mix thoroughly.

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Step 2

Put on rubber gloves. Apply mixture to the wooden surface with a sponge. Cover the entire surface, not only the location of the stain. Oxalic acid has a bleaching effect, and it is better to have evenly distributed color changes. Allow this to sit 20 minutes. During this time, rinse the heat resistant glass jar for use in step four.

Step 3

Wipe up the area with a clean dry cloth.

Step 4

Mix a solution of 1 tsp. ammonia to 1 qt. water in the glass jar you used in step one. Apply to the same wood that was exposed to oxalic acid to counteract the bleaching effect. Allow drying for 24 hours.


Step 5

Sand and refinish as needed.

Elbow Grease

Step 1

Place a clean dry cloth over the surface of the stain. Turn on the iron to a low setting. Place the iron on the cloth directly over the stain and apply slight pressure for three to five minutes. If the stain persists, move to step two.


Step 2

Apply paste wax to the stain. Rub it with steel wool, moving in the direction of the wood grain. If the stain is noticeably being reduced by this action, continue. If not, move on to step three.

Step 3

Drip three to five drops of oil onto the surface of the wood. Sprinkle pumice powder atop the oil. Apply plenty of pressure and, with a clean, dry cloth, rub the oil and powder into the wood in the direction of the grain. Be sure to do this to the entire surface so the result is an even finish.


Oxalic acid can be obtained at a pharmacy. Pumice powder can be purchased at most hardware stores.


Some wood veneers will be damaged by separation when exposed to the heat of an iron.


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