Does WD-40 Remove Water Stains on Wood?

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Share It

It can be frustrating to try numerous cleaning products only to find that the water stains remain stubbornly in place. One common solution people turn to is WD-40, a product known for loosening rusted parts.  

But does WD-40 remove water stains on wood, or will it just damage the surface?  In this article, we’ll determine the effectiveness of using WD-40. 

What Do You Mean By Water Staining?

Water staining refers to the discoloration or marks left behind when water comes into contact with a surface such as wood, fabric, or paper. This can happen when water is spilled, a leak occurs, or there is excess moisture in the environment.

When water penetrates a surface, it can cause the material to swell, warp, or become discolored. The stain may appear as a dark patch or a ring, depending on how the water was absorbed into the material. 

water stain on wood

In addition, water staining can also cause mold or mildew growth, which can further damage the affected surface and potentially pose health risks to individuals in the vicinity.

Why Can’t WD-40 Remove Water Stains From Wood?

WD-40 is not formulated to remove water stains from wood because its chemical composition is not effective in breaking down the components of water stains, which are usually mineral-based.  

As a petroleum-based product, WD-40 is primarily used for lubrication and corrosion prevention. It is not designed to react with or remove minerals like potassium, calcium, or magnesium that may be present in water stains. 

So, the composition of water stains and WD-40 are incompatible, making it unlikely that WD-40 could effectively remove water stains from wood.

To understand why WD-40 cannot effectively remove water stains from wood, it is important to know how water and minerals in the wood and di-hydrogen carbonate ions in hard water can cause staining. 


The di-hydrogen carbonate ions present in hard water react with different minerals as follows:

These are two primary explanations for why WD-40 is ineffective in removing water stains from wood. 

What Will Happen If You Apply WD-40 On Wood?

While some product reviews suggest that applying WD-40 can dissolve water stains on wood, this is not entirely accurate. When WD-40 is applied to wood, the chemicals in the product can make water stains appear less visible due to their kerosene-like properties. 

WD-40 and cloth

However, these chemicals do not eliminate the stain but instead create a thin cover over the affected area, giving the illusion that the stain is gone. 

As a result, applying WD-40 on wood is not an effective method for removing water stains, and other products or methods should be used instead.

Best Products to Remove Water Stains Off the Wood

Water stains on wood can be unsightly and frustrating to deal with. While WD-40 may provide a temporary fix, using the right products to remove water stains completely is important. 

Fortunately, several effective products can help you restore your wood surfaces to their former glory. Here are some of the best products to remove water stains from the wood:

steel wool

Removing Water Stains On Wood: Steps and Guide

Tools & Materials Needed

To remove water stains on wood using vinegar or lemon oil, follow these steps:

white vinegar
  1. Identify the water stain on the wood surface.
  2. Mix equal parts of olive oil and white vinegar in a bowl or bucket. If the stain is particularly stubborn, you can use undiluted vinegar.
  3. Dip a clean cloth into the vinegar solution and wring it out until it is damp but not dripping.
  4. Place the damp cloth over the stain and let it sit for several hours or overnight. This will allow the vinegar to penetrate the wood and dissolve the stain.
  5. Remove the cloth and inspect the stain. Wipe the surface with a clean, dry cloth if it has disappeared. If the stain is still visible, repeat the process until it disappears.
  6. Once the stain has been removed, use a dry cloth to wipe down the surface and remove any excess vinegar solution.

Can You Use WD-40 to Remove Water Spots?

Yes, WD-40 can remove water spots from various surfaces, such as cars, windows, and mirrors. Simply spray a small amount of WD-40 onto the affected area, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it off with a clean cloth. 

absorbent cloth for cleaning

The water spots should come off easily. However, it’s important to note that WD-40 is not a long-term solution for preventing water spots and may damage certain surfaces. So, it’s best to use it sparingly and only temporarily. 

For more long-term prevention of water spots, consider using a specialized cleaner or protectant designed for your specific surface.

How to Get Rid of the Water Stains Out Of Wooden Surfaces

You can mix white vinegar with olive oil to remove tough water stains from wood. The acidic acid in vinegar reacts with minerals in the water stain, such as calcium carbonate, to dissolve and remove the stain. 

Additionally, olive oil can help to clean and shine the wood surface. In case you don’t have vinegar available, there are alternatives that you can try to remove water marks from wood.

iron and white cloth

1. Use a cloth and an iron: Wet a cloth and wring out the excess water. Place the damp cloth over the water stain on the wooden surface. Next, heat an iron and place it on the cloth for a few seconds. This will create steam, which should help lift the stain from the wood. 

2. Use mayonnaise: Apply a small amount of mayonnaise to the water stain and leave it to sit for hours. Wipe away the mayonnaise with a clean cloth. This method works because the oil in the mayonnaise can penetrate the wood and lift the stain.

3. Use vinegar and baking soda: Create a mixture by combining baking soda and white vinegar in equal amounts until it forms a paste. Spread the paste over the water stain and allow it to sit for several hours. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe away the paste.

4. Use sandpaper: You may need sandpaper if the water stain is stubborn. Start with fine-grit sandpaper and gently rub the stain in a circular motion. If the stain remains, try coarser sandpaper until the stain disappears.

sandpaper and steel wool

5. Toothpaste: Simply apply a small amount of non-gel toothpaste onto the stain and gently rub it in a circular motion with a soft cloth. Wipe away the toothpaste residue with a damp cloth—the mild abrasive properties of toothpaste help to lift the water stain.

6. Petroleum Jelly: Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly onto the stain and let it sit for hours or overnight. The petroleum jelly will moisturize the wood and help lift the water stain. Then, wipe away the petroleum jelly with a soft cloth. This method works best for lighter water stains.

How To Remove WD-40 Stains Off Wood

Removing stains from wood caused by WD-40 is straightforward and can be easily done using different methods. However, Avoiding using water directly on the stained area is important, as WD-40 stains are oil-based and don’t mix well with water.

These are the steps to follow when removing stains from WD-40 off wood:

applying WD-40 on wooden furniture

Will WD-40 Work On Squeaky Wood?

Indeed, WD-40 is a suitable solution for eliminating squeaks on wood surfaces. By effectively lubricating floorboards and door hinges, it can penetrate even the smallest crevices and prevent friction [1] from creating an annoying squeaky noise. 

water stain on wooden table

Its versatility also makes it an excellent lubricant for various wood and metallic projects, which can help extend the lifespan of these materials. Using WD-40 can effectively fix squeaky floors and doors, thus providing a long-term solution for preventing recurring issues.


While WD-40 does remove water stains on wood temporarily, it does not remove the stains completely. The chemicals in WD-40 only mask the stained area, and the stains may still be visible once the surface is dry. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!

Join Our Woodworking Community on Facebook And Get 3 Woodworking Plans for Free!