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Easy Off Oven Cleaner Turned Furniture Stripper; Lesson Learned

Does Easy Off Oven Cleaner really work as a furniture stripper? Not always. See how I attempted to remove the finish off of this buffet with Easy Off Oven cleaner on wood and it did not turn out how I expected.

I’m no stranger to stripping furniture. I’ve used many methods and many products trying to remove paint, stain and polyurethane from countless pieces of furniture. Recently I tried four different methods on one piece of furniture. I used Vinegar, Citristrip, a heat gun and Easy Off oven cleaner to remove the finish. I was shocked at which product worked the best.

Because I had so much success with the Easy Off Oven Cleaner product, I decided to try to strip a large buffet.

Full disclosure; this isn’t a successful “how to” post. This is my experience trying to strip the dark stain and sealer off of a buffet that isn’t quite my style. The purpose of this post isn’t to deter you from using this product because I have had success with it in the past. Rather, this is my real life experience with stripping a piece of furniture that isn’t going to strip successfully no matter what stripper product I use.

Now that you know this post isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows, I can proceed.

Does Easy Off Oven Cleaner work to remove paint and stain from furniture?

Yes! I have had success removing paint and stain from an old desktop. As a matter of fact, when I tested this product with three other successful methods to strip furniture it happened to work the best!

stripping paint from wood with heat gun, vinegar, Easy Off Oven Cleaner and Citristrip

You can see above the four methods and products I used to remove white paint from this cabinet. The Easy Off Oven cleaner not only pulled the most paint off, but it was the easiest and cleanest method.

Will Easy Off Oven Cleaner work on all furniture pieces and surfaces to remove the finish?

No. That being said, no product is 100% successful all the time and on all surfaces.

I almost didn’t write this post and publish this video. Then I thought it might just be helpful to some of you who are unsuccessfully trying to use the “oven cleaner stripping” method.

Using Easy Off Oven Cleaner on Wood Veneer

I started with a large buffet that had a dark semi gloss finish. My hope was to strip the finish down to a raw wood look.

Buffet before the makeover
buffet before using the Easy Off oven cleaner

It’s a beautiful buffet. It would have been the perfect finish 15 years ago when I was into dark red cherry wood. These days though, meh. You know what I mean right?

I was hoping that this buffett was solid wood. I do believe it is all wood, but I also believe most of the surface is a wood veneer type wood with a factory finish.

Applying Easy Off Oven Cleaner to the buffet

The cool thing about this product is that it doesn’t create many fumes. I opted to apply it inside in a VERY WELL ventilated area (I’m applying it next to a wide open door and 4 big open windows). Just to be safe I did wear a mask.

I applied a heavy application evenly on the entire buffet.

Easy Off Oven Cleaner applied to buffet
Easy Off Oven Cleaner applied to buffet

I let it sit and soak for 30 minutes. Then I used a soapy warm water solution with a simple scrub brush to try to remove the finish.

This is when I realized things might not work out like I wanted them to.

What went wrong with the oven cleaner furniture stripping method?

When I started to brush the finish with the warm soapy water I was hoping to also brush away some of the dark brown finish. Nope.

I sprayed some more Easy Off Oven cleaner and let it sit another hour.

After an hour of waiting I used a plastic scraper to try to scrape most of the finish away. This was a lot more successful but only at peeling the top layer (factory finish? Heavy duty melamine finish? not sure).

What next?

This is when I realized that this particular buffet is not made of a material that will strip very well.

Womp womp womp…

Could I continue to apply more layers of Easy Off? Yes but I’m not sure it would give me the natural raw wood look I was going for. I was afraid it would still look orange or red.

Could I sand the wood down? Yes but once again I wasn’t really sure it would give me the result I was looking for. Just to make sure, I sanded a small portion of the back of the buffet to see how easy the finish would come off.

sanding the buffet
sanding the buffet

I spent a few minutes sanding this spot and barely any of the dark finish came off. That’s when I knew my gut was right; this piece might not be worth the effort.

What does the buffet look like now?

The buffet still has a dark red undertone but the top layer/ semi gloss finish is gone!

Buffet after stripping with Easy Off Oven Cleaner

On one hand the oven cleaner did work at removing the top layer.

Did it achieve the look I was going for? No, but that’s ok!

It did successfully strip that semi gloss finish off. This will allow me to easily apply another finish to it.

Basically it’s a muted version of the original without the semi gloss finish.

Oven cleaner on wood before and after

Below you will see the before and after picture. I thought about applying the product again to see if it would strip even more of the finish off, but because the finish wouldn’t remove easily with sandpaper I thought it would be best to move on to paint!

easy off oven cleaner furniture stripping

See the full buffet makeover with Faded Blues and a Cross Hatching Technique here.

buffet makeover with cross hatching technique

Related Stripping Furniture posts:

Three Best Paint Strippers on the Market

How to Strip Paint and Sealer off Furniture with this Easy Tip

How to Get Paint off Wood with Citristrip, Vinegar, Heat Gun and Easy-Off

QCS Stripper; Review of the Safest paint Stripping product

Lesson Learned with Oven cleaner on wood

Stripping furniture is not predictable. Most of the time I can look at a piece of furniture and tell if it will strip easily. This time I was wrong.

My lesson learned is to always test a small area of the wood before diving into a large furniture stripping project.

This is one of those duh moments. That being said, I was able to pivot my design plan with this buffet and I love how it turned out!


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  1. Klassick Katter says:

    Well thanks for this article you’ve inspired me to give this easy off method a try anyway…as for your buffet I have to be honest I like the “before” red and richer shades better but this is not a criticism the “after” is nice too; it is just a lovely looking piece of furniture isn’t it and no matter what you did to it in the end the result would still be a lovely looking piece – worthy :)!

    • The Easy Off does work well on real wood (from my experience), just not melamine or heavy factory finishes. As far as the buffet, to each his own! The red tones just didn’t match my decor vibe.

  2. Gary Biggs says:

    I am presently looking to strip some chairs, a table, and possibly a China cabinet. They belonged to a couple who were heavy smokers and UGH! It’s on real thick! Dish soap works but it’s labor intensive. I was curious if Easy-off oven cleaner would work the proverbial miracle.

  3. Emily says:

    I’m hoping to strip a bunch off dark stained wood. This will be my first shot with the Easy Off and then your suggestion of CitriStrip and plastic wrap! Should I strip the parts I’m going to paint too or use chalk paint over it? I’m hoping for a bleached top and black legs for a table and almost everything else painted black… do I seal it too? Omg 😳 tell me you already have a post on this!

  4. BETH says:

    Would wood bleech work to lighten the reddish hue?

  5. TC says:

    I think maybe the reason you weren’t able to remove the brown stain is because stain sinks down into the wood. The clear coat or paint can be easily removed because the sit in the surface of the wood. Sometimes if you sans a deep enough layer you can remove a stain.