Stripping Furniture with Oven Cleaner – My Experience
Stripping furniture with oven cleaner is a new trend you may or may not have heard of. Recently I used this technique on a new piece and today I am sharing my experience with you!
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Hey Friends! I recently shared a new hutch that I refinished with you in stories over on Instagram, and since so many of you asked about the tools and products I used, I thought I would write up a blog post!
I’ve shared about creating a raw wood finish in the past, and I’ve also shared a technique I once used to completely hide orange wood.
Since we used something entirely different with this hutch, I wanted to share my experience here and encourage you to give it a try!
The title of this post probably gives it away, but unlike strippers and bleach that I’ve used in the past, this hutch only required sand paper and – you guessed it – oven cleaner.
Yes, you read that right! Oven cleaner. Have you heard about it?
It seems to be all the rage over on Instagram, everyone has been spraying their dark or orange furniture with it and simply rinsing it off to create a natural wood look.
My friend Natalie over at The Vintage Porch makes it look easy – she has used oven cleaner so many times to refinish second hand pieces.
I HAD to give it a try, and this hutch was the perfect piece to try it on!
Stripping with Oven Cleaner – My New Pine Hutch
I’ve wanted a hutch for as long as I could remember, but scrubbed antique pine has always been way outside of my price range. At the antique stores near me, they usually cost anywhere from one to four THOUSAND dollars.
No thank you.
When my mom sent me a photo of this hutch on marketplace, it was dark orange but only $75. I offered $65, and it was accepted. My sweet Mom and Dad happened to be in the area where the hutch was located, and she offered to pick it up for me.
Even though the color was wrong, the drawers were dovetailed and the lines of the piece were beautiful and English inspired. For $65, I figured I’d give it a try.
Stripping with Oven Cleaner – The Process
I started with a drawer front – I simply placed it in my tub and sprayed it liberally with Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner. I found mine at the local Dollar General for about $5.
First of all, the fumes were SO strong that I could barely breathe. I know that sounds excessive, but it’s true. I have no idea how people clean their ovens with this stuff!
I cracked a window quickly and ran out of the bathroom, shutting the door. I probably waited about 30 minutes or so, and when I came back, the oven cleaner had dried.
I then took my scrubber and some dish soap, and started scrubbing the surface of the drawer where I had sprayed.
When orange started coming off my scrubber as I rinsed it, I got really excited! It was working, but it was so hard to tell because the drawer was still wet.
I scrubbed until orange was no longer coming off as I rinsed, and let the drawer dry.
When I came back, I was shocked. The orange was completely gone!
The only problem? There was no way I was going to keep using that oven cleaner indoors. I thought I’d have to wait until summer when we could spray it outside, when my husband called me from the hardware store and said that they carried “fume free” oven cleaner.
It was about the same price, and I told him to grab a couple cans.
Fume Free Oven Cleaner – How does it compare?
I gave the fume free oven cleaner a try on another set of drawers, and repeated the same process that I described before.
The scent was SO much better, it smelled like lemon and I could actually breathe while using it.
But once the drawers dried, there was orange residue left behind. Bummer. The chemicals just weren’t as strong as the “heavy duty” cleaner I had used before.
Rather than filling my house with toxic odors, we opted to continue using the fume free version and simply repeat the process until the orange disappeared from the drawers and doors.
It wasn’t fun doing this in my tub, that’s for sure. My back was pretty sore after the whole process, but over time (with my husband’s help) we got it done.
Stripping with Oven Cleaner – Does it work on sealed furniture?
Once all of the drawers and doors on the hutch were finished, it was time to move on to the body of the hutch.
I had a strong suspicion that the oven cleaner wouldn’t work on this portion since I noticed an obvious sheen all over the top and sides of the hutch, and I was right.
We followed the same steps as before, but the oven cleaner wasn’t able to penetrate through whatever product had been used to seal the wood.
Since the drawers were more worn and not shiny, the oven cleaner was able to penetrate the finish and work to strip off the orange.
We didn’t want to use chemical stripper on such a large piece indoors without proper ventilation (it’s wintertime here in Michigan), so my husband opted to sand the rest of the hutch until the orange was gone.
Thankfully it turned out beautifully, but man what a job. I baked him some fresh bread after all that work, haha! What a guy.
How to Add Extra Character and Age
In order to add even more character and a little age to the hutch, my husband also beat it up a bit with a chisel and hammer, and I used some antique dark wax to highlight those areas of distressing.
I could not be more happy with the way this hutch turned out! I love it so much styled simply with my white Heritage Pfaltzgraff.
The hutch is by no means perfect. It’s discolored and every drawer and door turned out a bit differently, but I sorta love that about it. In my opinion, the discoloration adds to the character and gives the hutch so much interest!
So many of you have asked about my corner cupboard, and not to worry – I’m hanging on to it for now.
I’m not ready to part with it, but I was also ready for a change. I’m going to live without it for a little while and see if I miss it.
So what do you guys think?! Have you ever tried stripping furniture with oven cleaner before? What was your experience? I’d love to hear in the comments below?
Andrea, it turned out beautifully. 😍 I have a piece I was waiting until summer to try this on. When you mentioned it might not work on shellacced pieces I was bummed 🙁 Can you share the wall color in that room please. Thank you ❤️🙏. Beth
I actually just painted it and will be sharing a blog post on it very soon!
Obsessed! You did so good! Thanks for the honesty, I have been itching to try this trick out!
Just recently removed myself from social media for a detox. So glad I get your emails to keep me in the loop with your fun stuff !
I am so happy to hear that, and taking a break from social media is never a bad thing!
Votre vaisselier est superbe. Beau travail !
Je n’ose pas essayer sur le mien, le bois (du pin) m’a l’air moins épais, donc je vais le poncer.
Merci pour le partage.
Your dresser is superb. Good work !
I don’t dare try on mine, the wood (pine) seems less thick to me, so I’m going to sand it down.
Thank you for sharing.
Have a good week end.
Thank you so much Anneka! I hope yours turns out as well!
So glad to find out about using the oven cleaner, have seen several pieces but no one said what it was like. Love your hutch it look so pretty. Sounds like a project for the Spring/Summer.
This turned out so well, a beautiful piece now. We have a pine armoire that has been with us for 40 years (!) and i have been wanting to have a stripped finish on it just like this. We will be trying it out this summer when we can take it outside. Thanks for this post, it is very helpful.
Hi! Could you tell us about your blinds in the dining room- they are beautiful!! We are looking to upgrade our blinds& need some ideas… thanks & I LOVE the way your China hutch turned out. I ll definitely be trying this method come spring!!
I would love to help, they are woven shades from Select Blinds and I go into detail about them in this post: https://www.pineandprospecthome.com/woven-roller-shades-window-covering/
It looks stunning, Andrea!! I LOVE how it turned out..the color of it now with the wax on it is so beautiful. I recently purchased a set of antique chairs that I’m going to try and use your oven cleaner method on in the spring when it’s nice enough to do it outside. Thanks for sharing!!
Could you please share the tools you used to sand the piece? Thank you!
Hello! I just used regular sandpaper and an orbital sander for the tougher spots. 🙂
I have a beautiful hutch and table that is Dark Pine and was extremely expensive back in the day. It’s about 30 years old from a very reputable store. I want so badly to do this but I’m afraid to ruin it! I love the “natural look” and would love to do this. Encouragement is needed I guess so I will dare to start! Weren’t you scared to ruin the piece?
I have done so many DIY’s with wood that I wasn’t scared, I knew it would take a lot to cut through this finish too. I feel like you can test a piece as well, maybe in the back to see how it would look if you are nervous? I hope this helps!
Beautiful! I would just deter from doing in the bathtub if you are rinsing down the drain for environmental reasons. Thx for sharing! I’ll try this in the garage.
Hello! I love this project! Will you share the color you have on the lower part of your walls?
Thank you! All of the paint colors we used can be found in this post: https://www.pineandprospecthome.com/timeless-cottage-paint-colors/