How to Remove White Stains From a Shellac Finish

Shellac is a resin that is used to treat and seal woods. If white spots form on the shellac, the likely culprit is water or condensation. Liquid or water spills will appear as a large white stain on the shellac finish, while condensation from a cup or glass can cause a white water ring when left on a shellacked surface. There are methods to remove white stains but they should be attempted in the order given, starting with the one least likely to cause damage. If that method does not work on your stain, proceed to the next method.

Things You'll Need

  • Lubricant

  • Soft cloth

  • Denatured alcohol

  • Paraffin oil or mineral oil

  • 0000 steel wool

  • Pumice powder


Step 1

Rub an oily, lubricating product, such as petroleum jelly or furniture wax, into the shellac finish.

Step 2

Allow the product to soak into the wood overnight or for approximately eight hours.

Step 3

Wipe a soft cloth over the area to absorb any leftover lubricant.

Denatured Alcohol

Step 1

Dampen the corner of a soft cloth with denatured alcohol. The cloth should be slightly damp, not moist or wet.

Step 2

Test to insure that the alcohol will not harm the finish. Lightly skim the cloth across the surface of a hidden area of the item. If the alcohol does not appear to cause a reaction on the shellac, proceed to the next step.

Step 3

Pass the cloth lightly over the white spots. Keep the cloth moving. Add a little more alcohol to the cloth if necessary as it dries out. The stains should start to lighten after 30 to 60 seconds.

Oil and Steel Wool

Step 1

Dip the corner of a soft cloth in paraffin oil or mineral oil. Wipe the oil into the white spots.

Step 2

Lightly rub a piece of 0000 steel wool on the spot, taking care not to cut through the finish. Continue rubbing gently until the spot has been lifted.

Step 3

Apply more paraffin oil or mineral oil to the cloth and sprinkle a small amount of pumice powder onto the oil. Rub the cloth into the area to buff away any damage left behind by the steel wool.