How to stop HomePod and Sonos One from leaving white rings on wood furniture

How to install software updates for your HomePod
How to install software updates for your HomePod (Image credit: iMore)

As first discovered by Pocket-lint and corroborated by The Wirecutter, the silicone base on Apple's HomePod can be a potential mark-maker on certain pre-treated wood furniture.

Jon Chase from the Wirecutter:

An unhappy discovery after we placed a HomePod on an oiled butcher-block countertop and later on a wooden side table was that it left a defined white ring in the surface...Apple says "the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface," and if they don't fade on their own, you can basically just go refinish the furniture—the exact advice Apple gave in an email to Wirecutter was to "try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer's suggested oiling method."

Apple isn't the only smart speaker with this issue — any speaker with a silicone base has the potential to interact with furniture. Over at Tom's Guide, Mike Prospero discovered his Sonos One had left similar marks on his cabinet:

A closer inspection revealed that the Sonos One speaker, which also has small silicone feet, had made these marks on my cabinet. Looking around the top of the cabinet, I noticed a bunch of little white marks, all left from the Sonos Ones as I moved them around. So, they will damage your wood furniture, too. We're awaiting comment from Sonos.

Why is HomePod leaving white rings on wood furniture?

In a word? Chemistry.

Here's the thing: While we're perhaps less careful around our furniture than our parents or grandparents, the general rule is to avoid placing unusual objects (like vases, wax, or some silicone objects) on a treated wooden table.

It's almost as bad as putting a glass with water down without a coaster. You monsters know who you are.

Why? Because, simply, we don't know how the chemistry of certain complex objects (like silicone) will interact with the oil finish on a given table. Not all whole-wood table finishes are alike: Certain wood oil treatments include drying agents that have organic compounds present in them — compounds that could potentially interact with the silicone in Apple's base.

From Apple's support article (opens in new tab) on the subject:

It is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces. The marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface, and will often go away after several days when the speaker is removed from the wooden surface.

This is also why we've only seen scattered reports of HomePod staining furniture — iMore editor-at-large Rene Ritchie has had his HomePod on several whole-wood surfaces on his house without issue, as have several Twitter sources we've surveyed.

Should Apple update HomePod's packaging to include a disclaimer about treated wood surfaces? Absolutely. Even if there's only a small chance your table interacts with silicone, it's worth having the disclaimer. Apple's support article (opens in new tab), released February 14, is a good step in the right direction, but ideally this information should also be on the HomePod technical specs page and inside the physical packaging.

Those who have been affected by this issue have every right to be upset with Apple. The company should have caught this in its QA testing, and the fact that employees didn't means that HomePod owners around the world have run the risk of leaving stains — treatable or otherwise — on their furniture.

How to keep HomePod from ruining your wood furniture

All that said: How can you enjoy HomePod without worrying about staining your wood furniture?

Put it on another surface

Wood aside, there are many, many surfaces in which this isn't an issue. Again, from Wirecutter:

In other testing, we have seen no visible damage when using it on glass, granite countertop, nice MDF, polyurethane-sealed wood, and cheap IKEA bookcases.

Kitchen countertops, partial-wood or untreated furniture, and glass can all be great homes for HomePod; if you can move it, that's the easiest fix.

Use a coaster (or a trivet pad)

The HomePod is 5.6 inches wide. If you're dead-set on putting it on wooden furniture, there a ton of nice large coasters or trivets available that you can place it on to avoid staining your furniture.

Pad & Quill (opens in new tab) is currently offering an all-leather $19.95 coaster built for HomePod's silicone base; orders will ship next week.

I also really like XL Coasters' inexpensive cork coasters (opens in new tab), which prevent stains on your countertops while offering cool kaleidoscope-style designs.

Whichever coaster you consider, make sure you get one that's flat — ridged designs (like slate coasters) may affect the HomePod's ability to sit flat and properly pipe out your music.

Mount your HomePod

Though not the most elegant option, you can mount your HomePod using a desktop or wall bracket and elevate it away from your furniture entirely.

Currently, only Meres (opens in new tab) on Amazon offers a HomePod mount, though it's at a reasonable $42.90 price.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Return it

Don't want to worry about coasters or mounts? If your HomePod isn't working out for you and your home, there's always Apple's return department.

Apple Returns and Refunds (opens in new tab)

How to fix white rings on your wood furniture

Cleaning HomePod

Cleaning HomePod (Image credit: iMore)

If you've fallen victim to a HomePod-induced white ring on your furniture, there are a few troubleshooting tricks you can try to fix it. From my experience, the white ring stains are largely temporary and can be fixed with either time or appropriate cleaning agents; that said, I'm not a chemist nor a furniture expert: These are a few internet- and Apple-endorsed ideas, but if you're trying to fix a precious piece of furniture and want the best advice, please talk to a furniture restorer in your area.

Apple's own troubleshooting advice (opens in new tab) suggests the following:

Wiping the surface gently with a soft damp or dry cloth may remove the marks. If marks persist, clean the surface with the furniture manufacturer's recommended cleaning process.

  • Wait a few days: Exposure to sunlight, oxygen, and humidity can often bring the table's discoloration back into balance.
  • Try a few quick-fix tricks: Reader's Digest recommends a number of ways to remove white rings left by water glasses — while not exactly the same cause, many of these fixes are universal for improving wood aberrations.
  • If all else fails, call a refinisher: If simple fixes haven't worked and you still have a noticeable mark on your furniture after a few days, reach out to a local furniture restorer in your area to have them properly assess for potential solutions.

Other ideas?

Have more insight on these crazy white rings? Have a different idea for keeping your HomePod and wooden furniture in harmony? Let us know in the comments.

Updated February 15 2018: Added information on Sonos One's silicone feet and Pad & Quill's new coaster.

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

36 Comments
  • My google home left a mark on my night stand. It wasn’t really a ring but more like a rub mark. I guess because of the different base design. Oil based wipe I bought fixed it
  • In reality, any smart speaker can leave a mark. Amazing how when Apple releases their own version of something, people will make something negative out of it, despite the fact that the same fault happens with other devices. The same cycle, every year…
  • In reality, ANY objects which have a silicone or rubber base or feet can and will leave a mark on certain wood surfaces. Examples, my Airport Time Capsule, my LaCie Rugged portable hard drive, my Beoplay A1 speaker, my Bose Soundlink mini, my Swingline stapler. I could go on and on. You live and learn. Should we have to expect Apple to forewarn us about stuff like this? I think not. But that's just me.
  • If you've spent hundreds of dollars on furniture and something leaves a stain like this it IS a negative. Apple has spent decades making laptops, desktops, AppleTV, etc and not ONE of those has ever had a report of something like this happening. Stop trying to minimize or explain away poor design choices by Apple.
  • Yes, taking a soft cloth and wipe it out. "Crisis" solved. Death and misery avoided.
  • I HAVE spent thousands of dollars on furniture. It's a decades old problem. And I would argue that silicone is a poor design choice. Did B&O, Bose, LaCie, and Swingline also make poor choices? For the record, I have vintage mid century modern furniture in my home; I collect many pieces. I know my wood furniture and what items I can put on them. Instead of blaming Apple for not including a disclaimer, pick up a book or do some Googling and get acquainted with wood furniture, types of stains and finishes. I am not trying to "minimize or explain away". I am trying to tell you it's a decade old problem which has been blown out of proportion because the HomePod has an Apple logo on it.
  • I agree. Apple informed us about "micro-abrasions" on iPhones. But some of our furniture is more valuable than even the highest end iPhones. I've also had plenty of Apple products with vibration dampening rubberized feet. I've never had a problem with them leaving marks on antique or more contemporary wooden furniture before. Not all silicone has this issue. We expect more from Apple. They should have warned us. It is a silly suggestion that customers had a responsibility to research the MSDS before placing their new HomePod in a location that was visually suggested BY APPLE in their ads. "Oh yeah, well, Apple is no worse than any other company". True Apple fans cringe at the thought of this excuse becoming the new normal.
  • All silicone has this issue. Find me a speaker with a silicone bottom that does not exhibit this issue. Plus all you need is a soft cloth, they're not permanent marks…
  • I'm afraid you are misinformed on both counts. First Apple's own support page acknowledges that marks may not go away with a simple cleaning. Second, those of us old enough to remember older speakers or who have worked around building materials and or manufacturing, know that all silicone forms do NOT have this issue. That is an objective fact, not an opinion. Silicone has been used in various other forms for decades without issue. You'll just have to do your own research there, and I'll leave that to you. They will, most likely tweak the chemistry in the future. Bookshelf speakers like this are meant to be used on wooden surfaces specifically (ask the sound engineers what they think), and the grip of silicone is designed to dampen vibration mostly by being in DIRECT contact with the surface it sits on - not by sitting on a cloth on a table (which mitigates some important advantages of vibration dampening). Again, I won't bother further defending a fact than can be easily verified with very little investigation. I'm sure Apple (and apparently Sonos, and others) could tell you the advantages of the material they chose (and they DID choose it). I get that. I would love to see the faces of the sound engineers at Apple when people say, "just place HomePod on a coaster or handkerchief". 😁
  • Either way, like you said, Apple/Sonos could tell you the advantages. A company as big as Apple wouldn't have gotten wrong a simple material choice. There were obviously advantages by picking silicone, that outweighed the negatives like these round circle marks.
  • Wait, you didn't need to take it to a professional woodshop and have it "refinished?" You were just able to do what Apple suggests on their website? Amazing.
  • Look on the bright side. You could shift the Homepod sideways every couple of days, and in just over a week you'll have Audi branded furniture.
  • Good grief. I've had white marks on my wood furniture a number of times. It's the polish used, not the HomePod. Toothpaste takes it right out. Just rub some in. Use a doily or something to set the Homepod on.
  • Remember, this is the generation that colleges offer counseling to if they are mentally crushed by the thought of someone speaking on campus that may have different view than them. This is the generation so helpless that they have to be told not to eat Tide pods. A temporary mark on my furniture, OH MY! LOL.
  • Apple don't respect wood.
  • We can start a trend. #TimCookHatesFurniture
  • I'm using foam yoga blocks. Elevates about roughly 3 inches and allows homepod speakers to fire up a bit
  • The lemmings are the people who don't realize this happens with other products too
  • Keep in mind that HomePod speakers always fire down to bounce off the surface below them. Your particular setup might sound better or worse depending so you might want to do a sound check with and without to maximize fidelity.
  • Please stop contributing to the hysteria by using terms like "refinish." "Refinishing" furniture has a very specific meaning which would entail stripping down the existing finish, restaining, and then applying a new finish. No one can seriously suggest that you need to "refinish" the surface because there is a mark left by the HP. As Apple points out, it may often just fade, but if not, just use some furniture polish, a soft cloth, etc., to rub it out. The hysteria over this issue is absurd, and we count on iMore to be the voice of reason, so your word choice is important.
  • You're absolutely right, and I've adjusted wording accordingly.
  • Apple has actually provided a surface protector right with the HomePod. The usual Apple minimal instruction and warranty package is the same size as the support ring. Just place the HomePod on top of its instructions and you've protected the surface underneath.
  • Or just buy a yet-to-be-released HomePad. ;)
  • Apple does not respect wood
  • I predict doilies will make a comeback. You kids might have to look that up.
  • An antimacassar would be a little on the big side methinks, but the principle’s the same! I’m pretty sure that most households will have several and they could be cut into the appropriate sized circles.
  • With a little bit of luck, some of the coasters will also stain furniture, and people will just keep stacking things on top of things in a never-ending loop. At some point, they will just let go and experience bliss.
  • Indeed. I remember in the past people dreamed of products like this. Now all people can do is continue complaining. Many people will never be pleased, no matter how far technology comes
  • “Chemistry”? More like poor design, flawed research, and lack of customer feedback. Gawd, I can’t think of any small consumer electronic product where I have to worry about what kind of surface I put it on!
  • Yep. Expected more from Apple... Actually, with Apple these days, I really don't expect more...
  • Except this happens with other products too, so I don't really know what you're expecting
  • Many other speakers using a silicone base suffer from the same issue, so yes I can think of plenty.
  • It is strange that Sonos, Apple et al don't use a different material to silicone considering it has issues such as this. Polyurethane would work, albeit at a higher cost.
  • Thank god all of the apologist writers and followers are out in full force.
  • Not really, considering it happens with other products too
  • IF you're looking for a solution without having to add something to destroys the aesthetics of your Sonos, look into ColorYourSound covers for Sonos speakers :)