Q: What does the ring look like?
A: This might seem like a strange question, but the answer is important to helping you figure out how to best address the stain.
Q: It is white?
A: White stains indicate a type of water stain that can be easy to remove. The color indicates the stain is located either in the finish or the waxy surface layer of the floor.
Q: How do I fix white rings?
A: Start by letting the stain dry for two days to see if it disappears on its own. If not, try several different methods for removing the stain from the wood floor. Cover the stain with a dry cotton cloth and rub with a hot iron (set to no steam) for two to three seconds. Or, use very fine steel wool pad that has been thoroughly soaked in lemon oil, which acts as a lubricant and prevents scratching. Gently rub the wool on the white ring. Lastly, dampen a cloth with denatured alcohol and rub over the stain for just a few seconds.
Q: What about black rings?
A: Black rings are more problematic; they are generally water stains that have penetrated into the finish of the floor. You have two options: Dip a small brush into a small amount of bleach and rub onto the stain; do a second round after several hours and let the area rest until the next day. Or, strip, sand, and reseal the area if possible.
Q: What about stains caused by other products—not water?
A: Nongreasy items such as food and nail polish should come off with dish detergent mixed with warm water and rubbed onto the spot with a soft cloth. Greasy stains should come up with a small amount of ammonia mixed with cold water and applied with a soft cloth.
This article originally appeared on BHG.com