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How to Use Oven Cleaner to Strip Furniture

I have a theory as to why this hack is gaining momentum. Researching the furniture refinishing process for a first time DIYer becomes alarmingly daunting very quickly. Who agrees with me? I must confess, all these years I have stayed in my furniture-painting-lane because I could never complete a how-to refinishing article without becoming consumed with frustration. I mean the number of steps, chemicals, tools, manual labor, and hours the process requires…ugh!  It became an annual ritual of sorts where I would ceremoniously snap my laptop shut in exasperation and then bury my insecurity into a glass of wine.

Then, one day, I fell upon some dark-web-DIY chatter that caught my attention. I was advised, by simply applying oven cleaner to solid wood furniture, I could achieve very quickly the rustic bare wood look that is so popular (and expensive) these days. I mean, oven cleaner… I could wrap my brain around that! You simply apply, wait, and then remove, right?! Refreshingly, this time, I snapped my laptop shut with a wave of gumption, tore up my kitchen to find the required tools, pulled out a vintage Federal style dresser from my inventory and began testing immediately.

Porch Nook | The test subject for my experiment is a vintage Federal style dresser.

The best part about all this is you most likely have everything you need in your home! Below you will find a list of the tools needed, some safety advice, and the step-by-step instructions. I also added a few personal tips I figured out along the way.

Porch Nook | How to Use Oven Cleaner to Strip Furniture

(Disclosure: I receive commission on purchases made using Amazon links in my article. I appreciate your support!)

Tools

Safety/Prep

  • If the piece you are stripping is vintage and painted, please be sure to test it for lead first!
  • This is an outdoor project due to fumes and the hosing down step.
  • Protect yourself as you normally would when cleaning your oven, refer to Easy-Off’s safety instructions. I personally wore a mask, goggles and gloves when applying the oven cleaner. And I also wore gloves during the removal process.
  • Liberally spread newspaper or tarp under your surrounding work area to protect the ground, home exterior and plants.

Steps

  • Always keep your furniture piece in the shade. Doing so will keep the oven cleaner from drying out prematurely.
  • Apply a generous layer of oven cleaning spray to the solid wood area(s) you want to strip
TIP: When you think you’ve sprayed on enough… add more.
TIP: I did attempt to apply this technique to the top surface of the dresser, but it didn’t work! This is when I realized this handy hack only works on solid wood. The top of the dresser was a laminate and resulted in a disappointing washed-out look. To remedy the situation, I simply broke out my Porch Nook Paint Brush and painted the top surface with “Nantucket” to match the rest of the frame.

Porch Nook | "Nantucket" Chalky Finish Furniture Paint

TIP: Here I need to emphasize the importance of keeping this project in the shade! I had to repeat this process on a drawer because I accidentally left it under the sun after applying the oven cleaner. Due to the heat, the oven cleaner dried up before it had the chance to work its magic.
 



TIP: During this process it may appear the original finish is not being removed. The water makes the freshly exposed wood appear darker; it isn’t until the piece is fully dry will you see the bare wood in its full glory.

Porch Nook | How to Use Oven Cleaner to Strip Furniture


TIP: Use the scrapping tool found on the backside of the pot scrub brush to remove globs of the old finish, and then tap it into a disposable container. I did this because I didn’t want to pour the old finish down the drain or leave it for someone to step on.

  • When done, hose down the piece, towel dry and then allow your piece to completely dry overnight.

NOTE: I made the creative decision to not seal the newly exposed wood only because I knew it would slightly deepen its earthy tones. I just couldn’t do it… I fell in love with the raw rustic farmhouse look!

Porch Nook | Before & After, Vintage Federal Style 5-Drawer Dresser, Hand Painted and Distressed

So, what do you think? Do you feel frustrated or empowered? It is my hope that this hack excites you as much as it did me. You’re now armed with the knowledge to pursue the curb finds of your dreams. Go forth and may you turn to treasure what others have so carelessly tossed away. Mwah!

Porch Nook | How to Use Oven Cleaner to Strip Furniture


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