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 white water stains from wood 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 wood and dissolve the white water stain. After 24 hours, the white water stain will be removed. 

Also, you can use products designed to remove deep stains from wooden surfaces, such as magic erasers or hardwood floor cleaners.

Removing white water stains from wood is a trial and error process as you’ll have to try different removal methods to find the one that works.

What Causes White Spots On Wood Floor?

The main reason white water stains appear on your wooden floor is moisture and stains. If the floor is exposed to stains, water, or dried-up spills, the wooden floor will develop white or grey stains.

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

However, if the stain is left for too long on the floor, the stain 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 the stain is caused by dirty, contaminated water or food spills. The dirty water will stain or decay the spot.

Here are other reasons for white spots on hardwood floors:

Hot Meal Spills

If you have sealed your wooden 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 wooden surface for a consistent period, cloudy white particles will start to form on the floor.

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 wood floor and cause white stains to appear.


If you use wooden floors outdoors, rainfall and high humidity can cause white water stains on outdoor floors. This is because the wooden 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.

White Water Stains Can Disappear Itself

White Water Stains Can Disappear Itself

White water stains can eventually disappear. This happens if the stain is caused by water and dries and blends into the wood. But, if the stain is caused by oils, the white stain won’t disappear because the oil deposits will leave a permanent discolored spot on the wood floor.

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 itself. 

However, if the white stain is caused by oils, the stain 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 wood floor. You must sand the spot off to get rid of the stain.

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

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 The White Water Stains

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 wooden floor that contains the white stains.

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

Here is the guide on using sanding to remove water stains from floors:

  1. Clean the white stain with a rag. 
  2. Use fine-grit sandpaper to scuff the stained spots on the wood
  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 white stains 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 the white stain 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 from wood. 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 white stains on the floor; the solvent will penetrate the wood and dissolve the water stains. After a while, you can wipe the white stain off the wood.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Wipe and clean the affected spot.
  2. Apply the solvent over the white water stain spot. 
  3. Wait a few hours for the stain to dissolve.
  4. Check if the stain has been lifted from the wood.
  5. Wipe the white water stain off with a clean rag.

After you remove the white water stain from the wood, you must 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 from the wooden floor. 


  • 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 White Water Stains on Wood Floors

Here are ways to prevent white water stains on your wood floor:

  1. Place water-resistant mats or carpets on the floor.
  2. Avoid spills and water stains 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 the white stain and dissolve it. 

However, to prevent white water stains on wood floors, you must immediately wipe off the water or stain from the floor. This prevents the stain from drying or penetrating the wood floor. Using a waterproof floor mat or carpet can also prevent white water stains. The carpet will prevent water (or moisture) from affecting the floor.

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