Easy Off Refinishing Furniture Stripper

After remodeling our whole downstairs last year, we knew there would be some furniture we would need. If you've ever done a remodel, you'll know that you basically just bleed money for months on end. The idea of paying upwards of $3-5 thousand dollars for a table, had me reconsidering my options. I kept going back to my DIY days and thinking I could make that! Like Goldilocks, I spent last summer hunting for the perfect table that I could refinish in the raw wood finish I was looking for. I bought and sold no less than six tables in about six weeks. I ended up refinishing most of them, and kept two tables. Both of which I took to the raw wood finish look but ended up using two different methods. I already shared how I used Citristrip and bleach to finish the table in our dining room. This time, I'm sharing how I used Easy Off oven cleaner {yep...oven cleaner!} to refinish our kitchen table. A year later and I'm still obsessed with it!

oven cleaner refinishing technique

Easy Off Refinishing Furniture Stripper Technique


I have always been a deal hunter. I don't have a problem buying used and I definitely don't have a problem trying to change something so I'll like it better. I have a depression-era mindset sometimes! Trends and designs change, but overall, a solid piece of furniture that has good bones, can really stand the test of time. Usually it's the finish or color that needs an update, and with oven cleaner, yes, oven cleaner, I was able to get the desired look I wanted.

Start with this post where I cover the following topics:

Finding furniture to refinsh
Know what you are looking for
Stripping furniture with a wood veneer
Using bleach and furniture stripper vs using oven cleaner

Can You Use Oven Cleaner to Refinish Furniture?

Yes! I'm not sure who started spraying oven cleaner on their furniture, but someone was on to something! Oven cleaner is an incredible way to inexpensively remove the finish on real wood furniture. Furniture strippers will often cost twice what oven cleaners will. I could often refinish a  large table with 1.5 cans of oven cleaner and the total would be around $12. Whereas furniture strippers would often cost around $30 for the same affect. 

I do also think that using oven cleaner makes the whole process easier. When I used furniture stripper, I spent about 20 hours refinishing this table. When I used the oven cleaner, it took around 3 hours {with some rest time in there} to finish with a similar result.

before and after oven cleaner stripping

Is Oven Cleaner Safe to Use to Refinish Furniture?

I did a lot of research on this one. I'm no chemist, but the ingredients that make oven cleaner work on your furniture are the same ones that work in furniture stripping products. 

I think the thing that I was more concerned about wasn't using the oven cleaner, it was saturating the wood with water as I washed it all off! 

Does Oven Cleaner Work to Strip All Furniture Surfaces?

Nope! Don't waste your time with painted furniture. Oven cleaner works great on wood surfaces. I found that it worked especially well if you prime your surface by sanding off the top layer of sealer as well giving it a rough surface to start working.

This is the orbital sander I use. I actually love it because it works well and has a dust bag attached. I normally think sanding feels like nails on the chalkboard, so I need something that will get the job done and not make me want to jump off a cliff.

If you have a painted surface you need to strip, use this method instead.

Safety First! Safety Precautions to Take When Refinishing Furniture

Any product that contains chemicals should be treated with care. I only used this method during the summer when I could work outside. Here are some other safety precautions to take when refinishing furniture.

  • work in a well-ventilated area 
  • wear gloves
  • wear eye protection
  • think about your work area. You are using chemicals, so use them wisely to protect kids, yourself and the environment.
refinsh easy off furniture

Supplies You Need to Refinish and Strip Furniture using Oven Cleaner

1. This is the oven cleaner I use. It works great. I won't deviate from it. 
2. I use this orbital sander and these sandpapers. I like the variety in the grit.
3. You'll need a scrub brush just for this purpose
4. I think the Dawn Power Wash is the secret ingredient, though you can use just regular Dawn and some water too

I put together a video of the whole process. It's quick, but it hits on all the main steps.

Step by Step Tips for Using Easy Off Oven Cleaner to Strip and Refinish Furniture

Start with a good solid piece of furniture. If you aren't sure what kind of furniture to use, or where to buy a piece you can refinish, start here. 

If your furniture piece comes apart, take it apart to make refinishing easier. If the table top comes off, remove the top of the table. If the drawers remove in a dresser, remove the drawers. Take off any hinges and knobs that might get in the way and place them in a plastic bag so you don't lose any parts.

You can jump right in an use the Easy Off oven cleaner, now, but after a few different attempts, I found that I had good success with sanding the piece first to remove any of the sealant and finish and allow the oven cleaner to work its magic! You don't have to sand it great, just get that first good sand in to rough it up a bit! I do use a higher grit paper on this go round.

Spray a thick layer of Easy Off oven cleaner {this exact kind works best!} generously over the whole furniture piece. There is nothing better than seeing it bubble up and foam as you spray it on!

Let your furniture sit for 15-20 minutes. I like my pieces to sit in the sun to help the bleach process along. I live in the Seattle area, so sometimes I use the term "sun" loosely. Some people like to not let the oven cleaner dry and get crusty. I have never had this as an issue. Just set a timer and give it a check! 

While your oven cleaner is still moist {I said what I said}, you are going to want to scrub off the finish that the oven cleaner has started doing work on. Again, multiple attempts had me finding that the Dawn Power Wash was the best tool for this job. 

If you've never used Dawn Power Wash, buckle up. I literally use it for everything from taking out stains in clothes and carpet to using it on dishes and now in refinishing! You can use some regular Dawn dish soap and mix it with water and then scrub it on, but I take the Power Wash and spray it on then dip my scrub brush in water to suds it up a bit.

The scrub brush helps to loosen up the stain or varnish and pull off the finish getting you down to that raw wood look.

Add water to your brush to create foaming bubbles and work on the whole surface of the piece you are refinishing. 

Once you've scrubbed it up, take out your hose and put it on the jet setting. Blast water over the whole piece until the water starts to run clear and clean. 

Don't stress out if your piece still looks a little dark after you do all these steps. Take advantage of the sun and let it work with the oven cleaner to work its magic and continue bleaching and removing the color as it sits in the sun. 

Let your piece dry completely!

Once it's dry, take a look at your piece. Is it how you want it to look? If it's not, its ok to start this process over again and add another coat of the oven cleaner and work through to the end. I promise you, it will get there!

Once your piece is the color you want, use your sander to sand it down evenly. This will help even out the color and continue to lighten the wood.

Finish off your piece with polycrylic. I use the clear matte so it doesn't add a shiny coat or change the color I just worked so hard on! I follow the directions for use. On my dining room tables, I have three coats of polycrylic. After each coat, I wait for it to dry and then sand between each application. We have used our table daily for a year now and I haven't had any issues with water glasses leaving a ring. But I probably will recoat it soon so I don't! 

before and after wood refinish oven cleaner

The Best Raw Wood Matching Chairs!

I think one of the things I stressed about the most was what chairs I'd buy with a table that didn't have chairs. I put so much mental energy and found these. I'm not kidding you when I tell you they are the best chairs out there that will go with the raw wood finish. I don't think I wanted something with a wood seat because I have a delicate tush, but they are far more comfortable than any chair I've had in our kitchen to date. They are sturdy and solid and heavy but not too heavy if that makes sense. And they are the perfect color. Again, I've used these multiple times daily in the past year and they are the absolute best chair to get if you are using the oven cleaner method to refinish a table.

easy off oven cleaner refinishing

Have you tried refinishing furniture before? I have been really impressed with the two methods I've used and for different reasons. Not only have I saved thousands of dollars by doing it DIY, I've been able to enjoy what I've made in my home! Give it a try!

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

No comments

Powered by Blogger.