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  • Writer's pictureKiersten

Quick Fix: How to Get Rid of or Minimize Small Water Stains on the Ceiling

Before we get back to tackling our bigger water problems, I wanted to share a quick solution for getting rid of or minimizing small water stains on the ceiling. Honestly, I can't believe how simple this was and how long I waited to try it. We had a couple of water leaks in the bathrooms upstairs that made their way to the main floor ceiling: one small bathtub overflow that was quick caught and dried up, and another more massive toilet overflow in the kids bathroom that created a waterfall in our kitchen through the light fixtures.

Water stain on the ceiling

Fun times. Both left a brownish water stain on the ceiling in the main floor - one smaller and one larger, with some seriously damaged drywall around the light that was obviously holding more water than we knew. I don't think I can handle seeing any more drywall cut out right now and I really didn't want to try to spot match paint to the ceiling so I was hoping we could just clean this up and buy time on any sort of larger repair need.

Dark stain around ceiling light

What You'll Need to Get Rid of Ceiling Water Stains

Most of you likely already have every you will need for this!

  • Bleach

  • Water

  • Measuring Cup

  • Spray Bottle - that has a light mist setting

  • Sponge

  • Gloves

  • Protective eyewear

  • Ladder

  • Any protective covering you may need for the area under the stain in case of drips

  • Clothes you are going to be OK splattering bleach on!

WARNING - you will be spraying bleach overhead so be sure to wear clothes you don't mind bleach splatters on and cover anything underneath that needs protecting.

Bleach, cup and bowl

How to Remove Ceiling Water Stains

Mix 1/3 cup bleach with 2/3 cup water and pour it in an empty spray bottle. Make sure the bottle is primed for a light mist. Spray this carefully into a sink to get it ready.

Measuring out bleach

Gently spray the stained area with your bleach mixture.

Spraying bleach on ceiling

Have your sponge ready to catch drips. I also had an empty bowl nearby in case I had to set the sponge down.

Kiersten on ladder dabbing sponge on ceiling

Dab the stain with the sponge then let it dry for 1-2 hours.

Yellow glove hand with sponge Removing water spots on ceiling

For a really dark stain you may need to go through the process a second time but my ceilings cleaned up in one! Totally minimized the stain without needing to match paint colors.

Ceiling after water spots removed

Even the really bad stain around and near the light in the kitchen. Definitely need to do some proper drywall repair here but for now this really looks much better.

Ceiling after water spots removed

Lesson learned here - don't wait so long next time we have a second floor "flood"!


Need a water stain fix? Here's what we used:

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through one of the product links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!


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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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