how to remove varnish from wood with vinegar

How to Remove Varnish from Wood with Vinegar?

Varnish is commonly used in many wood items like flooring and furniture as it serves as their final coat. The use of varnish is essential for the protection of the wood against damage and it also provides the wood a gleaming look. However, as time passes, the wood can look dull and shall need refinishing or staining.

To start with the refinishing, you need to know how to remove varnish from wood with vinegar. You have the option to take off the varnish from the wood through chemical removers containing strident toxins. But if you want to use a mild solution, the use of vinegar is an unrefined and gentle varnish remover.

Luckily, this article features an easy tutorial wherein you learn how to maximize the use of vinegar when removing varnish. Read on to find out how to begin the task.

What do you Need to Follow this Tutorial?

Before you start executing the tutorial, you should first gather certain things to make sure you can properly perform the steps. Here are the things you must prepare:

  • Vinegar

Obviously, you need to secure vinegar to do this tutorial. The flexibility of vinegar lets you use it in your home or any of your woodworking projects. The amount of vinegar you will use will depend on the space where you intend to remove the varnish. Since vinegar is considered acid, it can work to break down the varnish.

Vinegar is less expensive and is also environment-friendly. This is the reason why many people choose to use it for this kind of task.

  • Tools and Supplies

Find a container for your vinegar. You can use any container you find suitable. Get ready with a vacuum cleaner as you will need to start the task by cleaning the area. In case you do not have a vacuum, you can use a dustpan and broom. Prepare a wood scraper and a piece of cloth, too. Most of these items are already available in your home so you do not have to worry about your budget.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Clean the Surface

Image source

Before you start removing the varnish on your wood, make sure that the entire surface is clean so you won’t waste your solution. Use a suitable vacuum to get rid of dirt and dust. If you are working on a wooden floor, find a vacuum that is appropriate for a hardwood floor.

Another option is to simply get a dustpan and broom. Just see to it that you were able to get rid of the entire dry dirt. This will ensure that there will be no dirt that could entangle your solution later.

2. Prepare your Vinegar

Image source

To ensure effective removal of varnish on your wood, you need to properly apply the vinegar. You have to formulate an easy-to-do recipe. Find a container where you can place the vinegar. The solution should be enough to cater to the space that requires cleaning.

Turn on the oven and heat your vinegar. There is no need to boil the vinegar, simply heat it. You will then have a ready-to-apply solution. Drench a cloth to the solution then apply it to the varnished area.

3. Allow the Vinegar to Settle on the Varnish

Image source

Allow your solution to settle on the varnish for a few minutes. The vinegar will then begin to act as it affects the varnish and helps soften and detach from your wood. Do not scrape the wood immediately after the application of vinegar. The varnish has not yet softened then and scraping the wood immediately could only damage it.

Ideally, the vinegar solution should sit on the varnish for around 20 to 30 minutes. You may need to repeat this process several times until the entire varnishes are removed.

4. Scrape the Varnish

Image source

By this time, the varnish should already soften. However, you cannot just use your hands to pick up the varnish. With just a common floor scraper, scrape the wood to remove the varnish. Lightly scrape over the varnish. Aim at a particular location, then begin to move forward.

Do not exert more force when scraping as the wood is sensitive enough.

5. Wipe the Surface

Image source

Once you are done, get rid of debris and dirt to get ready with your wood refinishing. Use a dustpan and a broom to collect the dirt. However, you might want to use a wet-dry vacuum since the surface is probably wet.

Wipe the surface with a cloth. Make sure that there is enough ventilation to retain the quality of the wood.


You now know how to remove varnish from wood with vinegar. This tutorial is meant for those who are planning to refinish or renovate their woods but do not want to use harsh chemicals to remove the varnish. Vinegar is just within reach in the kitchen so you do not have to spend more to carry out the task.

Trying the tutorial above does not involve any complicated steps. All you have to do is to get ready with your materials and understand the instructions well. With these things met properly, you can effectively remove varnish from your wood.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *