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The bag in the photo below stained my beautiful wood table; see the photos as I have no other way to describe it.

I don't know if this happened on it's own, or if my cleaning lady applied some Lemon Pledge to the table to clean it first and then laid the bag face-down on top of the newly cleaned tabletop. The table is from Rooms to Go (R2G). Officially per R2G's manufacturer catalog, it is a "cherry" wood with a "clear cherry" finish.

Cleaning Update 1

Applying Minwax paste finishing wax has removed a much smaller spot, but to use it on this large an area requires a lot of elbow grease. Applying pressure via a plastic stick behind some paper towel is working, albeit slowly. I wonder if Murphy's Oil Soap will help? I don't want to add something new to the mix in case it sets the stain.

An online forum elsewhere for a similar problem recommended a paste of mayonnaise and cigarette ashes, but I don't smoke and therefore have no ashes available.

Cleaning Update 2

I contacted a local furniture restoration company and showed them this post. The lovely lady on the phone explained that R2G usually uses a spray-on-finish whose name starts with an "f". Her recommendation was to

  1. proceed cautiously
  2. tape over one grain direction
  3. get some 4 0 steel wool
  4. unfold it to a cloth shape
  5. get some appropriately-colored Minwax
  6. rub the minwax using the wool extremely gently in the direction of the grain.
  7. if it fails to fade, apply slightly more pressure

The actual solution she suggested was slightly more complicated than what I've typed out. As 4 0 steel wool would definitely scratch the finish, this seems like a last resort; I'll stick with paper towels for now.

I am curious if a Magic Eraser is the same consistency as 4-zero / 4 0 steel wool, but having witnessed how it eradicates polish off a car, I am not going to start using one.

Cleaning Update 3

I am continuing to use the paper towel, Minwax and elbow grease, and based on the prior advice, I am wiping with the grain. Wiping with the grain seems to fade the stain is faster than when wiping in random directions. This task is more complex due to the two grain directions, but I will persist and update on noticeable changes.

I will purchase the 4-0 steel wool on my next outing.

THE BAG, DAMN YOU collectorsnet.com

The stain (originally):

the original stain

The (upside-down shot of the) stain (post-minwax + elbow grease):

stain post-work

Progress after applying more Minwax and pressure. Doesn't look like much progress, but maybe that's the lighting.

elbow grease again

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ashes are a fine powder that my grandfather swore by for polishing wood and getting marks out. There's nothing magic about tobacco ashes - any kind you can get hold of might work as a gentle abrasive. They were recommended because they were easy to get. –  Kate Gregory Mar 2 '13 at 14:22
Maybe I'll go the ashes and mayo route, then. –  JoshDM Mar 2 '13 at 14:43

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Per the question, I used Minwax until it faded, but it was still quite obvious and visible (close to the last pic in the question post).

Then, taking a page from the "mayo and ashes" tip, I mixed 1-part mayonnaise (Hellman's) to 1-part baking soda (not baking powder; I used Arm & Hammer brand) as a cigarette ashes replacement. I rubbed the mixture along the grain directions using a paper towel and some pressure.

The stain faded, then vanished. The resulting wood is smooth, and considering the baking soda is abrasive, appears unscratched. After wiping off the mayo mix, my table may smell like a turkey sandwich, but it's beautiful again.

Now all I have to do is polish off all the Minwax buildup from my earlier cleaning attempts.

I would never have thought of going with the grain had I not spoken to the lady from Restore and Adore, and had the baking soda idea fell through, I would have gone with the "last resort" 4 0 steel wool with a lot of Minwax applied.

Pic of the repair:

repaired table

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As an aside, I did let Collectorsnet.com know by e-mail what one of their bags did, but they didn't respond. –  JoshDM Mar 6 '13 at 16:12

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