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How to Remove Hot Spots/White Marks from Furniture

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Not too long ago, we bought a beautiful mahogany table. During dinner one evening, someone passed a hot dish and set it down on the table with nothing under it.

It didn’t take but a second, and the damage was done: Our once gorgeous table was now spotted with a permanent ugly white heat stain. Or so we thought until we discovered that we could easily remove it with this simple do-it-yourself tip . . .

How to Remove Hot Spots/White Marks from Furniture

When using a clothing iron’s steam function to remove white spots or hotspots from wooden furniture, the process involves moisture and heat, which interact with the wood’s finish to restore its appearance. Here’s how this method typically works:

You’ll Need:
An Iron
a thin cotton cloth

  1. First, make sure that the iron is filled with water, as it’s supposed to be, and then be sure that the table is washed and dried well before you begin.whitespot hotspot on mahogany dining room table
  2. Place a clean, cotton t-shirt or thin towel over the white scorch marks on the table
  3. Set the iron to medium with the steam on (I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that steam will help when it caused the problem to begin with!)
    iron hotspot with towel
  4. Iron gently for about 30-60 seconds over the mark, remove and quickly wipe away any excess moisture that is on the table.
    check spot after few seconds
  5. Repeat until the marks are gone.
    hot spot removed using iron
  6. Once the marks have been removed, apply a small amount of olive oil to the table using a soft clean, lint-free cloth.
    apply small amount of olive or teak oil

This method leverages the simple physics of heat and moisture interaction with the wood’s finish. The steam helps to “rehydrate” the finish, allowing it to settle back into a clear state, thus clearing up the white spots caused by heat or moisture damage.

However, caution is crucial as too much heat or improper use of the iron can cause more harm than good.

Love this DIY Tutorial on How to Remove Hot Spots? Pin it!

Transform your furniture from Oops! to Wow! with a simple fix for those dreaded hot spots and white marks. No magic wand needed, just this guide. #FurnitureFix #DIYMagic Easily remove hot spots from wood furniture

How Can a Hot Iron Remove Hot Spots?

The method of using a clothing iron’s steam function to remove white spots or hotspots from wooden furniture is effective due to several interactions involving heat, moisture, and the physical properties of the wood and its finish.

How It Works

  1. Expansion and Penetration: Heat and moisture from the steam cause the wood and its finish to expand slightly. This expansion can help open up the pores of the wood and the micro-cracks in the finish.
  2. Hydration and Redistribution: The steam introduces moisture into the finish and potentially into the upper layers of the wood itself. This added moisture can help to redistribute or dissolve the moisture that was originally trapped (and caused the white spot when it altered the refraction of light through the finish). Essentially, the moisture from the steam can mix with the trapped moisture, diluting and evening it out within the finish.
  3. Flexibility and Healing: When wood finishes absorb moisture, they become more pliable. This increased flexibility allows the finish to relax and return closer to its original state, often diminishing the appearance of blemishes caused by moisture or heat.
  4. Evaporation of Excess Moisture: As the heat continues to act on the area, it helps to evaporate the excess moisture introduced by the steam. This gradual drying helps ensure that the finish does not remain overly saturated, which could lead to further cloudiness or damage.
  5. Restoring the Finish: By carefully controlling the amount of heat and moisture and by ensuring it is evenly applied, the original disruption in the finish caused by heat or moisture damage can be addressed. The finish can settle back into a more uniform state, reducing or eliminating the appearance of white spots.

Why It Works

This technique works because it addresses the root cause of the spots: disruptions in the finish’s ability to transmit light normally due to moisture damage.

Adding and then carefully removing moisture with heat essentially “reset” parts of the finish.

The process requires careful balance because too much heat or moisture can worsen the situation or damage the wood. The protective layer of cloth between the iron and the wood helps mitigate the risk of direct damage from the iron.



A few notes: There are varying reports of whether or not this works. As you can see from the photos above, it worked quite well for us; however, it may be dependent on several factors, how bad the stain is, what kind of finish the piece of furniture has (varnish/shellac/poly/etc) I couldn’t tell you what our table has, I don’t know what it is.

Here are just a few of the other tips that members have submitted over the years for this issue:

  • In a small bowl, combine toothpaste and baking soda at a 50/50 ratio, then rub in using a soft cloth. (Please note, Do not use gel toothpaste!)
  • In a small bowl, combine salt and olive oil, mixing to form a soft paste, apply with a soft cloth, and let it sit for half an hour. Wash and dry normally
  • Apply a small amount of Miracle Whip Mayonnaise, allow it to sit for 1 hour and then wash and dry well.
  • In a small bowl combine Baking soda and a couple drops of water mixing to form a soft paste, apply with a soft cloth and let it sit for half an hour. Wash and dry normally
  • Using a soft cloth, gently rub the stain with Vaseline, let it sit overnight. Wash and dry the table normally.



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