A finished bay window ledge is an area that is commonly damaged by water. Planters can overflow or leak, and the unseen moisture can end up discoloring the finish. Rubbing the wood with furniture polish in an attempt to remove or cover white water rings and stains does not usually work. The moisture ends up soaking into the varnish and down to the permeable material below. The wood does not have to be sanded and refinished. If the damage is not too bad, it can be easily remedied using a simple technique.
After finding water rings on your stained and varnished bay window ledge, do not panic and assume that the damage is permanent. You might be able to remove the stains without resorting to drastic and difficult measures. You will need an iron that is typically used to smooth out wrinkles in the fabric. If you do not have one, they can be found in discount stores for as little as $15.00. A small crafting iron will also work. Also required is a thin piece of smooth cotton fabric such as an old t-shirt or a scrap piece of material.
To remove the ugly water rings, begin by preheating the iron. Do not add water if it has a steam setting. Turn the setting to medium or medium/high. Once it is fully preheated, place the cotton fabric over the stains, and iron the wood using light but steady pressure. Do not allow any part of the metal to come in direct contact with the bay window ledge. After ironing the wood for approximately 30 seconds, remove the material and examine the surface. Hopefully the heat of the iron pulled the moisture out of the wood. If white stains are still visible but better than they were, repeat the process over and over until achieving the best possible outcome.
After the wood completely cools, apply natural orange or lemon oil with a clean soft cloth. Use gentle pressure, and rub it in while following the direction of the grain. It will beautifully shine and protect your bay window ledge while leaving a fresh clean scent. Even if planters are not cracked or overflowing, moisture can develop underneath, especially on glazed ceramic varieties. Citrus oil is a natural water repellent, but precautions should be taken to prevent further damage. An iron and a piece of fabric do not always work, but it is certainly worth a try.