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How to Strip Wood With Oven Cleaner

Looking to strip wood stain from a piece? If you’ve got wood furniture or a piece that you want to refinish, follow these tips to clean it up and strip it down!


Since we moved, I’ve been thrifting like a fiend at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Manville, New Jersey. They get some great stuff!

We have a lot of rooms to furnish too, so we are searching for wood furniture pieces with character and purpose.

I recently found a wood mantel that we don’t need for a fireplace, but bought it for the dining room.

There is a blank wall that could use some love. Because we want to keep the space clear so it’s easier to move about the dining room, we decided a mantel would be a great way to warm up and decorate the space.

It’s not super old or anything but cost next to nothing and if I refinish it, would add a lot of character to our newly renovated dining room.

I’ve seen a lot of friends, including my good friend Jennifer from Cottage on Bunker Hill, lately stripping wood furniture with Oven Cleaner so I decided to give it a try with this fireplace mantel.

I could strip it using a wood stripper like Citrus Strip, but decided to do something different to see if the process is any easier.

And here’s how it went!

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How Do You Strip Wood?

Traditionally, I’ve used Citrus Strip or a Varnish Stripping Gel to remove the finish from a wood piece. But I was inspired to try stripping wood with Easy Off Oven Cleaner and used it on this mantel.

I have to say, it was much easier to get the finish off using oven cleaner versus the Citrus Strip.

Both methods work well but here’s my take: oven cleaner is easier to remove a finish but I think it makes a bigger mess than using citrus strip.

So if you are looking to strip wood furniture, either of these methods works great!

Applying citrus strip wood finish from Coffee Table

How to Strip Wood Using Citrus Stripper or Other Wood Stripper

Always follow the manufacturer’s directions, but in general, brush a layer of the stripper on a wood piece and allow it to sit.

I’ve found that the longer you leave it on (no more than a day max) and even cover it with Glad Press ‘n Seal, the easier it is to get off.

Remove the plastic wrap and use a scraping tool to remove the finish or paint off the piece. This step can be a bit laborious.

And you may need to repeat the stripping process a few times until you completely get the finish off.

When you are finished, clean the piece up with mineral spirits and wash it down with soap and water after.

And now you are ready to refinish your wood piece!

Want to see a project where I used this process? Check out this coffee table makeover.

fireplace mantel we found at the thrift store near me
Fireplace mantel we found thrifting before stripping the wood.

What is the Best Wood Stripping Method?

After working with Citrus Stripper, Varnish Gel Stripper, and Easy Off Oven Cleaner, I would say it depends on the project you are working on.

All three methods work very well but they each have their pros and cons.

Regardless of the method you use, be sure to use a mask as all three methods have an odor and work in a well-ventilated area.

To me, the oven cleaner method is easier, but it gets messy and I’m not a fan of the run-off if you choose to hose it off. I avoided that minimized runoff by working on a large tarp and cleaning it up as I go.

I washed the piece down with a good scrubber brush and wiped it down as I went to avoid hosing it down.

If you use Citrus Strip or Varnish Gel, it’s still messy but much easier to contain than the oven cleaner you wash off.

I’ve also heard that the chemicals in the oven cleaner create some off-gassing. But I’ve found the same to be the case using any kind of stripper.

If you have an opinion about this, I’d love to hear about it so leave me a comment below and let me know!

Close up of the finish before stripping the wood on this fireplace mantel
Close up of the finish on this fireplace mantel before stripping the wood with oven cleaner

How to Strip Wood With Easy Off Oven Cleaner

It is really easy to strip wood furniture using oven cleaner. I would imagine you’d be able to use any kind of oven cleaner, but I’ve only seen DIYers using Easy Off, so that’s what I’m using here today.

Supplies Needed to Strip Furniture With Oven Cleaner

Surprisingly not much is needed to strip wood with the oven cleaner method.

I recommend using gloves to protect your hands, protective eyewear, and an N95 mask so you don’t breathe in the fumes from the product.

Here is what you need to strip wood.

  • Oven Cleaner
  • Safety Goggles
  • Protective Gloves
  • N95 Mask
  • Scrub Brush with Bristles
  • Dish Soap
  • Bucket of Water
  • Large Tarp
  • Paper Towels
  • Garbage Bag
Spraying wood furniture with easy off oven cleaner to strip the wood
Spraying oven cleaner on the mantel to strip the wood finish.
What the fireplace mantel looks like with the oven cleaner soaking in to strip the wood
What the fireplace mantel looks like with the oven cleaner soaking in to strip the wood

Directions for Stripping Wood Furniture With Oven Cleaner

Grab a tarp and lay it down on a concrete surface or driveway. I recommend not doing this on the lawn so there is no risk of runoff into the grass.

If you are doing this outside, do it on a dry, windless day.

Place your piece on a surface raised off the ground so it’s easier to work with. I used saw horses, but you can even raise them up on paint cans. Regardless, choose something that won’t get damaged from any overspray.

Wipe the wood piece down with a clean, dry cloth. Then spray one even coat of oven cleaner on the entire piece. Since I am stripping wood on the mantel, I focused on the front face, top, and sides, but did not do the back as you won’t see it.

Scrubbing the mantel down after allowing the oven cleaner to dry
Scrubbing the mantel down after allowing the oven cleaner to dry

Allow the oven cleaner to sit on the piece for about an hour.

After an hour, scrub the piece with a brush and soapy water. Wipe off the excess finish with a paper or shop towel to minimize runoff.

Repeat this process until the wood furniture is completely stripped. I did mine twice to get the final result.

And I allowed some time for the fireplace mantel to dry in the sun to see how much it lightened before repeating the process.

When you are finished, give the wood furniture one final wash and allow it to fully dry before refinishing.

And that’s it!

I’m not sure how I’m going to refinish the fireplace mantel yet. So I’m going to leave it as is for a bit and put it back in my dining room to plan phase 2.

Stay tuned!

fireplace mantel in dining room after stripping the wood finish
The fireplace mantel in dining room after stripping the wood. Notice how much lighter it looks!

How to Strip Wood With Oven Cleaner

Looking to strip wood stain from a piece? It's easy to strip wood furniture. If you've got wood furniture or a piece that you want to refinish, follow these tips to clean it up and strip it down!
Prep Time20 mins
Active Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Calories:
Cost: 10

Materials

Instructions

  • Grab a tarp and lay it down on a concrete surface or driveway. If you are doing this outside, do it on a dry, windless day.
    Raise wood furniture off ground before stripping wood with oven cleaner and set up on a large tarp
  • Place your piece on a surface raised off the ground so it's easier to work with.
    Close up of the finish before stripping the wood on this fireplace mantel
  • Wipe the wood piece down with a clean, dry cloth. Then spray one even coat of oven cleaner on the entire piece
  • Allow the oven cleaner to sit on the piece for about an hour
    Spraying wood furniture with easy off oven cleaner to strip the wood
  • After about an hour, scrub the piece with a brush and soapy water. Wipe off the excess finish with a paper or shop towel to minimize runoff.
    making soapy water in a bucket with dawn dish soap
  • Repeat this process until the wood furniture is completely stripped. I did mine twice to get the final result.
    Scrubbing the mantel down after allowing the oven cleaner to dry
  • When you are finished, give the piece one final wash and allow it to fully dry before refinishing.
    fireplace mantel in dining room after stripping the wood finish

Wait Until You See What My Friends Thrifted and Did With Their Finds!

It’s been a fun month thrifting around the country with some of my best blogging besties.

Wait until you see what they are shopping for and what they did with their finds!

My good friend Jennifer from Cottage on Bunker Hill found this beautiful vase for $5 and totally gave it a new look with fresh-cut amaranth from her garden. Doesn’t it look amazing!!!

See how she made this thrift store find better!

Flea market flip vase by cottage on bunker hill

And my good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells went on a shopping spree with some of her besties in the Pacific Northwest and found some pretty cool vintage finds!

How adorable is that toddler bed she found???

I can’t wait to see how she uses them in her amazing cottage gardens on the Puget Sound.

Summer shopping spree in the pacific northest for vintage finds with shiplap and shells

Want to See More Thrift Store Finds?

I’ve been sharing lots of cool items I found for our new home and garden.

Come thrift with me!

vintage green shutters and windows I found at the flea market in Vermont.

Looking for More DIY Ideas?

If you are looking for more do-it-yourself projects to make your home even more amazing than it already is, check out these posts!

And here are some FAQ’s for chalk painting fabric and applying chalk paint to wood cabinets.

Fresh cut flowers from the cut flower garden on a thift store find end table with vintage shutters

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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8 Comments

  1. Stacy,
    I’ve wanted to try this but haven’t done so yet. I have a dresser calling my name so we will see what I do with it.

  2. I’m so excited to try this Stacy! I have a leaded glass transom window with wood trim I want to strip. I love how your vintage mantle turned out.