White Water Stains on Wood Floors? (Here’s How To Remove Them)

After a while, wood floors can develop white water stains. So, how to remove them from wooden floors?

You can remove white water stains from wood floors by wiping the spot with mineral spirits or baking soda. The solvent will penetrate the surface and dissolve the white water stain. After 24 hours, they will be removed.

Removing them is a trial and error process as you’ll have to try different removal methods to find the one that works. Also, you can use products designed to remove deep stains from wooden surfaces, such as magic erasers or hardwood floor cleaners.

What Causes White Spots On Wood Floor?

The main reason white water stains appear is because of moisture. If the floor is exposed to water or dried-up spills, it will develop white or grey stains.

The stain is white because it doesn’t penetrate the wooden floor deeply. Instead, it stays over the top surface of the floor, comes in contact with dry air, and forms white patches around it.

However, if the stain is left for too long on the floor, it will turn yellow or black. And black stains are hard to remove because they penetrate the wood floor deeper. Likewise, a white water stain will turn yellow if it is caused by dirty, contaminated water or food spills. The dirty water will decay the spot.

Here are some other causes:

Hot Meal Spills

If you have sealed your floor with polyurethane, then the floor will develop white stains because of hot meal spills. For example, if you place a hot pizza box over the surface for a consistent period, cloudy white particles will start to form.

Water Leaks

A water leak above or beneath the floor can cause white water stains. For example, if the wooden floor is exposed constantly to water, the water will penetrate the floor and cause white rings to appear.


If you use wooden planks outdoors, rainfall and high humidity can cause white water stains to appear. This is because the floor will be constantly wet.

Dried-Up Spills

Dried-up spills can cause water stains on wood floors. If you spill drinks, wine, soda, or water on the floor without wiping it off immediately, the spill will gradually affect the top layer of the wood.

If this happens regularly, white or grey stains will start forming on the wood’s surface. The annoying part is these spills will dry up fast, making removing them difficult.

Can They Disappear Itself?

White Water Stains Can Disappear Itself

White water stains can eventually disappear if they are caused by water and they dry and blend into the surface. But, if they are caused by oils, they won’t disappear because the oil deposits will leave a permanent discolored spot on the surface.

A white stain caused by water is just moisture and a light mix of wood tannins. Once the moisture evaporates, the wood tannins will blend back into the wood. This causes the white water spot to disappear.

However, if the white stain is caused by oils, it won’t disappear. For example, if you spill a drink into the wood and don’t clean it, the spot won’t disappear (at least for a few months). This is because the drink will dry out on the surface and you must sand it off to remove it.

Sometimes, the white spots on hardwood floors will disappear from the constant usage of the surface. For example, if you walk over the affected spot too often, the friction over time will fade it off.

How To Remove White Water Stains From Wood Floors?

You can fix water stains on wood floors in two ways; by sanding or by using a solvent. The method you use depends on the stain’s depth (how deep the spot penetrated the floor) and the state of the stain.

We will show you how to do both methods:

Method 1: Sand Them Off

Sand The White Water Stains

If the white stain didn’t penetrate the wood floor, you can remove it by sanding. To sand the white water stains, use fine-grit sandpaper.  The sandpaper will remove the top layer of the surface and remove them.

You can use this method only if the water stain has dried out. If it’s still wet, the sandpaper won’t remove it because it will get clogged.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean the affected spot with a rag.
  2. Use fine-grit sandpaper to scuff the affected spots.
  3. Remove dust from the surface
  4. Polish the affected spot.

After you are done, you must polish the affected spot to make it look better and original.

Here are the pros/cons of using this method:


  • Sanding removes them fast.
  • You can remove other stains from wood with sanding.
  • Sanding is a cheap option.


  • You can only use this method if the white stain is dry. However, if it is still wet, use a clean rag to remove it.
  • You can ruin the wood grain if you over-sand or use the wrong type of sandpaper.

Method 2: Use a Solvent

Remove White Water Stains Without Sanding

You can use a solvent, such as mineral spirits, to remove white water stains. Besides mineral spirits, you can use vinegar, baking soda, hardwood cleaner, or a magic eraser. You can use this method whether the stain is wet or dry.

You must apply the solvent over the affected spot; the solvent will penetrate the wood and dissolve the water stains. After a while, you can wipe them off the wood.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Wipe and clean the affected spot.
  2. Apply the solvent over the affected spot.
  3. Wait a few hours for the stain to dissolve.
  4. Check if it has been removed.
  5. Wipe the affected spot with a clean rag.

After you remove them, rinse the solvent residue with clean water. If you don’t, the solvent residue can discolor the wooden floor.

Now, let’s check out the pros and cons of this method.


  • You can use it whether the stain is wet or dry.
  • A solvent will remove any stain.


  • Some solvents are expensive.
  • Solvents can discolor the wooden floor if you use too much,
  • The solvent will remove the paint if the wooden floor is colored (painted).

Preventing Them:

Here are a few methods to prevent white water stains from appearing on your floor:

  1. Place water-resistant mats or carpets.
  2. Avoid spills and water on the wood floor.
  3. Wipe and clean stains as soon as they occur.
  4. Clean your wood floor frequently.
  5. Cover outdoor wood with drop sheets in rainy seasons.
  6. Don’t place hot items or food on the floor without a pad.
  7. Apply a moisture-resistant and stainless finish on the floor. Lacquer is a good stain-resistant protective finish that you can use on floors.

Final Words

You can remove white water stains by sanding or using a solvent. Sanding will remove the top layer of the wooden floor together with the white water spot. The solvent will penetrate and dissolve them.

However, to prevent them from appearing, you must immediately wipe off the water or stain from the floor. This prevents them from drying or penetrating the wood floor. Using a waterproof floor mat or carpet can also help as it prevents water (or moisture) from affecting the floor.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

Leave a Comment