How to Remove Heat Stains From Wood

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

Whether you’re a fan of rustic-themed interiors or just love the classic charm of wood furniture, you may have encountered a common issue: heat stains. But, these unsightly white marks are nothing to fret about. 

In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to effectively remove heat stains from wood. So, let’s get started on restoring your beloved wooden pieces to their former glory!

What Are Heat Stains on Wood?

If your wood furniture is frequently exposed to sunlight or warm temperatures, you should expect the formation of white heat stains. These cloudy stains are typically caused when hot items or food, like a hot pizza box, are placed on top of a wooden surface.

heat stain on wood

You may think it’s just a heat mark, but a wood table can be subjected to thermal expansion. But trust me, these trivial things could lead to possible shrinkage or wrapping. 

Removing Heat Stains from Wood: 9 Methods

Method #1: Toothpaste

I’m sure you’ve already heard about using toothpaste to remove stains on cloth. But did you know that its component could also work to remove heat stains from wood? 

toothpaste to remove stain on wood

If you want the best results, a non-gel toothpaste is still the best option because of its alkaline properties. Some people also create a baking soda and toothpaste mixture to remove heat marks. 

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Clean the wooden furniture with a damp cloth. Make sure that the wood surface is free of any residue or dirt.
  2. Mix toothpaste and baking soda until you get a thick paste. I recommend adding a few drops of water to get the right liquid consistency.
  3. Apply the toothpaste and baking soda mixture to the wood surface. 
  4. Let the solution sit in the white heat marks for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Once the wood table has dried, wipe it clean. Don’t press too hard as it won’t help remove heat stains from wood. 

Method #2: Hairdryer

High temperatures cause white heat stains, so what better way to remove them than adding more heat? While others require chemical mixtures, a hairdryer’s heat could treat wood pores and pull the trapped moisture. 

hairdryer to remove stain on wood

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Clear any dirt on the wood table using the cloth. If you can, use a damp rag.
  2. Turn the hairdryer on and set it in the lowest heat setting. 
  3. Point the dryer over the white heat marks and wait until all the stains are removed.

Method #3: Iron

Another way of using more heat to remove white stains is through the steam iron method. And while it’s effective for removing heat marks, overly high temperatures may cause damage to your wood furniture, so you must utilize this method sparingly.

iron to remove stain on wood

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Ensure that the wood furniture is spotless from dirt or residues.
  2. Lay the cloth over the heat stain of your wooden table.
  3. Before gently pressing the iron through the towel, set the iron into a low heat setting. Get the iron slowly moving to prevent heat escalation even at a low steam setting. 
  4. If it doesn’t remove white heat marks, steam it with a wet towel. 
  5. Add a wood finish to seal the wood’s pores. 

Method #4: Mayonnaise

Not many know this, but oily substances like mayonnaise and petroleum jelly can remove heat stains [1] on your wooden table. 

This technique effectively opens up the pores in the wood grain, allowing trapped moisture to escape. But, I would advise against using an excessive amount of mayonnaise, as it can be quite challenging to clean up afterward.

mayonnaise to remove stain on wood

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Wipe the wood tables clean and remove other hindrances.
  2. Apply the mayonnaise over the heat stain gently and let it sit for two hours.
  3. Once the white heat stain is out of sight, remove the excess mayonnaise. 

Method #5: Oil and Salt

Like petroleum jelly and mayonnaise, greasy substances can handle white marks due to their alternative components.

salt and oil to remove stain on wood

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Mix oil and salt until it turns into a paste solution.
  2. Clean the wood table using the cloth and ensure the heat rings don’t have excess residues.
  3. Apply all the liquid paste over the white marks and let it dry for an hour to remove the heat stain from the wood. 

Method #6: Vinegar and Olive Oil

Olive oil is a known solution for white stain issues, but another popular ingredient is vinegar. When these two components are mixed, it can be an effective stain remover in cloth and wood. You can even use them when removing wood stain on skin because of their mild removal substance. 

vinegar and oil to remove stain on wood

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Dry and clean the furniture thoroughly.
  2. Oil and vinegar must be in equal parts, so remember to measure them accurately. 
  3. Once the mixture’s ready, apply it thoroughly on the white mark and wait at least an hour. 
  4. After drying, finish off by wiping it clean with a cloth.

Method #7: Steel Wool

Using fine-grade steel wool to remove white heat stains can be tricky, especially because it could lead to unwanted scratches and damage to the wood material. If you’re not familiar with it, might as well not to use it.

steel wool used on wood

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Get rid of residues on the surface with a wet cloth and let it dry.
  2. Put oil all over the steel wool before using it.
  3. Gently start rubbing the wool into the heat stains.

Method #8: Lemon Oil

Like other oil ingredients, lemon oil is an effective agent to remove stains from a hot cup placed on your wood table. 

lemon oil

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pour a considerable amount of oil into the wool or cloth.
  2. Use the back and forth motion during the application for better removal action.
  3. Keep following the wooden grain until it clears from stains.

Method #9: Wood Restoration by Sanding

If all else doesn’t work, it’s time to restore the state of your furniture. I would suggest considering this approach when working with older wooden materials. The only minor drawback is that it may require you to repaint the wooden surfaces

wood restoration by sanding

What You Need

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Spot the wood surface where the stain is located.
  2. Do the deep sanding method to get rid of the stain.
  3. Replace the protective layer of the surface with a wood finish.

The Best Wood Restoration Products for Heat Stains on Wooden Tables and Furniture

If you want a product that can handle any kind of wood damage, Howard Products Restor-A-Finish is still the best choice. Besides that, you can also use Guardsman’s WaterMark Remover Cloth for easy heat mark removal.

Tips For Removing Heat Stains on Wood

Consult an Expert

If you’re not familiar with wood stain removal, consulting an expert on wood and furniture is still the best option. These professionals know what method to use without potentially damaging your furniture.


Use Different Solutions

As discussed, there are many ways to tackle this issue. If simple mixtures couldn’t remove the stain from hot dishes, feel free to try other methods as long as you do it gently and don’t damage the material.

Check the Condition of the Surface

Is the wood material old? If it is, it’s not recommended using chemicals as they can further damage your furniture. 

Do Not Overdo it

It’s important to use certain ingredients sparingly to prevent potential harm to your wood. This advice stems from my experience in dealing with wood-related issues.

restoring wooden table

How to Prevent Heat Marks From Forming on Wood

If you don’t want any hassle coming from fixing heat stains on your furniture, the best way is not to expose its surface to high temperatures. 

How to Protect Your Wood Table From Heat Marks

Use coasters when putting down hot beverages or heat mats for newly cooked dishes. Heat mats prevent direct heat from damaging your furniture.

Also Read


How long will it take to remove the heat stains?

It depends on the condition of your wood and the method you use to remove the stain. Ten minutes is enough if it’s a typical process, but other stains require hours to remove.

Do heat stains go away on their own?

No, heat stains won’t naturally disappear, and it can significantly change the color of the wood. If left unresolved, it may become harder to remove them.

How can you remove heat stains with steam?

Sprinkle a bit of water unto a towel and place it over the stain. After that, use a low-heat iron and apply it over the cloth.


As you can see, there are various methods for effectively eliminating heat stains from wood surfaces. However, it’s important to note that if you come across black stains on the wood, you’re likely dealing with water damage rather than heat stains. 

In such cases, it’s advisable to opt for specific solutions or consider seeking professional assistance to prevent any inadvertent mishaps and further damage.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!
    Your Cart
    Your cart is empty