This is part two of a blog series about removing white marks on tabletops. Click here to view Part 1 that goes into detail about what causes white marks in the first place. In this posting, I'd like to offer up five methods for doing away with them.
1. Use a Hair Dryer
Set the dryer on a low to medium temperature and hold the nozzle about three to four inches from the surface. Keep the nozzle moving back and forth. While the surface is still warm, buff with a soft dry cloth. This combination of heat from the hair dryer and friction from the cloth can often solve the problem.
2. Iron Away the Problem
A household steam iron can be used in somewhat the same way. The dry method calls for laying a soft, lint-free cloth on top of the water mark, and then placing the iron on the cloth and moving it slowly and continuously with light pressure. Stop every few seconds and check your progress. Many folks have had success using this method with steam either by applying the steam iron directly to the cloth or by holding the face of the iron a couple of inches away from the surface. As soon as you’ve stopped steaming, wipe any accumulated moisture from the table top.
3. Try a Lubricant and a Bit of Elbow Grease
Sometimes, white marks will go away with a good bit of rubbing. Apply olive oil, cooking oil, Vaseline, or mayonnaise to a soft cloth and rub the spot using a fair amount of pressure. Sometimes, the addition of a bit of vinegar may help.
4. Add a Little Abrasive Material to the Mix
Try adding baking soda, salt, or cigarette ashes to one of the lubricants. Tooth paste, either by itself or mixed with a bit of vinegar can polish away white marks. Pumice (an abrasive powder) mixed with linseed oil may also be worth a try.
5. Consider a Commercial Preparation
There are products on the market designed just for white mark removal. Liberon makes products used by many professionals. You can find their version of a white mark remover here.
A Final Word
In my experience, furniture finishing and restoration is both an art and a science. Take your time. Try different approaches and be sure to take "before" pictures so you can share your success with friends and family.