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

Learn how to strip paint from wood with this easy tip. I’ve also shared my favorite paint stripping product with a desk makeover.

I know I just published a post showing you how I used two household items to refinish wood,  but even after I removed the scratches I still wasn’t happy with the piece of wood furniture.  I tossed around the idea of completely stripping the wood with a chemical stripper like Citristrip, but it made me tired just thinking about it. I know, that might sound silly, because I love to refinish and paint furniture. Just when I was about to give up on the idea of refinishing the desk, I got a tip from a friend on Instagram on how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture with minimal sanding. Let me tell you friends, this is a game changer.

how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture

Stripping Paint & Stain from Furniture

I’ve been stripping old paint from furniture for years, and to be honest, it’s not my favorite thing to do. It’s labor intensive and time consuming and takes forever to strip all the layers off of an antique piece of furniture.

Like I said earlier I was about to give up on my plans to refinish this desk due to, well, my desire for a quick fix. Let me show you what it looked like.

It’s a solid wood antique table with a cherry finish. I love the style of the desk, but I don’t like the old finish. 

the desk before it was stripped

My choices to refinish the desk were simple; paint it (probably with chalk paint), apply stain over the old stain, strip it, or leave it as is. 

Related Stripping Furniture posts:

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

Easy Off Oven Cleaner Turned Furniture Stripper; Lesson Learned

Lately I’ve been finding it hard to paint over solid wood. I love the look of solid wood and I hate to hide solid wood with a paint color that I might not like in the future. I just didn’t want to hassle with stripping furniture.  I made up my mind that I would keep the desk as it is.

Just when I almost gave up my idea of removing the layers of stain and sealer, I got a great tip from a friend on the best way to strip furniture

The easiest way to remove paint from wood furniture

Y’all ready for this? She said to apply Citristrip paint stripper on the desk and then wrap it with plastic wrap and leave it overnight.

Plastic Wrap? Whoa, this was a new one.

I’ve been stripping polyurethane, paint and stain off of furniture for years…

Why had I not heard of this? Either way, I had to give it a try.

Disclosure; this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not affect the price you pay. This disclosure statement refers to the rest of the Amazon links in this post. See more on my disclosure page.

Best furniture wood stripper I’ve found that makes minimal fumes with LOW VOC’s

My favorite chemical paint stripper is Citristrip. Most paint strippers have harsh chemicals and create super strong fumes. Citristrip does not (this doesn’t mean it’s safe to use without PPE, it just has fewer VOC’s than most).

It comes in a gel form and a spray on (spray can). I’ve used both and they both work well. I would use the spray can for smaller jobs and the gel form for larger ones. 

You can see more of the three best chemical strippers on the market here. In this post I’ve detailed the pros and cons of these three. One thing to note; all three contain harmful chemicals so you need to make sure to use them in a well-ventilated area. Your work area should include an open door somewhere near. 

If you are looking for a NON CHEMICAL paint stripper product, check out this awesome new stripper product that I just did a review on;

P.S. you can strip furniture IN YOUR HOME without worrying about having proper ventilation! Whoa, this has opened a new world of stripping a wood surface or antique furniture. 

Materials to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture:

How to strip paint from wood and stain off wood

  1. Clean the entire wood surfaces with a degreaser product.
  2. spray the entire piece with Citristrip or any other paint stripper. If you are using the spray can, make sure to spray all surfaces including vertical surfaces and flat surfaces. Saturate the wood very well. 
  3. Cover the desk with saran/plastic wrap (there isn’t an easy way to do this, just make sure the plastic wrap is up against all those curves and crevices).
  4. Wait at least a few hours or overnight. It is better to leave it overnight.
  5. Remove the plastic wrap and use a brillo pad or plastic scraper and scrape away the residue. Watch as the layers of paint and or stain wipe away! The steel wool is great to use in detailed areas.
  6. After all the residue is removed (this might take hours), spray a clean brillo pad or heavy paper towel with the after wash or mineral spirits solution and wipe away any extra residue.
  7. Once the residue is gone and the wood piece looks clean, start sanding. My go to sander is an orbital sander. 
  8. Continue sanding until you have reached your desired finish! When it’s done, that wood grain should be very visible!
  9. Apply a sealer to the wood (especially if it get’s a lot of use)

Looking for a good wood sealer? Check out a posts with great product options:

Best Wax for Painted Furniture: Tips and Recommendations

How To Seal Painted Furniture for a High Traffic Surface (this works for raw wood too)

Protect Your Furniture! Best Clear Coat for Wood for a Lasting Finish

How to Tint Polyurethane and Add Color to a Top Coat like Polycrylic (Just in case you want to tint your sealer)

Great tips on Stripping wood:

  • For the hard to reach spots like the nooks and crannies of the legs, use a liquid sander or deglosser.
  • Is the furniture piece older than 1978, always make sure to test for lead-based paint first. There are easy tests you can buy online to test for this. Lead paint is no joke, don’t skip this step!
  • If you want to keep the “natural wood look” without a high shine sealer product, wax is a good option. 
  • I used the electric sander for the top of the wood and some of the flat areas. 
  • For the legs and the drawers, this is where the liquid sander came in handy. I used a little bit on the legs of the table below to help with the hard to sand places. 

Here are some images from the progress:

wrapping the furniture with saran wrap after applying the wood stripper

I sprayed it down with Citristrip and covered it with saran wrap.

After I finished stripping most of polyurethane and stain off the wood, I applied the after wash.  You can use “after wash” or mineral spirits. I think they both do practically the same thing.

sanding the wood after stripping the paint and stain off

I used the electric sander for the top of the wood and some of the flat areas.

For the legs and the drawers, this is where the liquid sandpaper came in handy. I used a little bit on the legs of the table below to help with the hard to sand places. 

Letting the paint stripper sit overnight with the plastic wrap made it easy to remove the extra stain without much effort.

how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
stripping furniture

After most of the sanding, this is a little before and after of what the desk looked like.

Before and after stripping the wood furniture

I picked up some new hardware from Ace’s Hardware. I wanted to keep with the “vintage antique” vibe.

I was happy with the transformation so far, but the red tones on the drawer and the top still bothered me.

I tried using a dark wax, a “weathered” stain, and a clear furniture wax with no luck! All these products still brought out the red tones.

After doing a little research, I decided to try to bleach the wood. This is new, I had never done this before, but I’m so glad I did.

How to bleach wood:

FYI: I used regular household bleach because I didn’t have anything else. This isn’t the best option, but it’s all I had at the time. I’ve detailed how to bleach wood in this post on staining wood with household items.

If you are planning to bleach a piece of wood or furniture I would highly suggest buying wood bleach. You can see a great product HERE.

using bleach to strip the wood

Above is the drawer before I used the bleach.

bleaching wood furniture

I dabbed a little bleach on a heavy paper towel and wiped it all over the wood on the desk. I let it dry and then repeated this process about 5 times.

After wood was bleached

You can see where the bleach has already dried on the wood, and where it is still wet.

After bleaching the areas of the wood that still had “red tones,” I sanded a little more, and then I was almost done!

Lastly, I added a sealer to the top and sides of the desk.

For those of you wanting to know how I sealed the raw wood, check out my post on how to seal furniture for high traffic. I’ve shared my favorite furniture and wood sealer with a list of other sealers too.

after the wood furniture had been stripped
how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
stripped wooden desk with bare wood
stripped wood furniture with bare wood
Stripped wood furniture- top view

Well there you have it; a total furniture transformation.

I love the raw wood look and I’m so pleased with how well the saran wrap trick helped me strip the paint off of this old desk.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ve been inspired to strip a piece of furniture the easy way!

How to Strip furniture with this Easy Tip

stripping furniture the easy way

Learn how to strip the paint and sealer off of wood furniture with this easy tip that reduces the time it takes. This little furniture stripping tip is a game changer.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty Medium
Estimated Cost 30 dollars


  • gloves
  • plastic drop cloth
  • saran wrap (I still couldn't believe I would be using this)
  • paint stripper
  • paint scraper
  • brillo pad or steel wool (a couple of these)
  • sand paper
  • electric sander (not necessary, but helpful)
  • paper towels
  • Mineral spirits - to clean up paint stripper
  • Klean Strip Liquid Deglosser


  • Paint Scraper
  • Sander


  1. Spray the desk with Citristrip or any other paint stripper. Make sure the desk is clean before spraying it.
  2. Cover the desk with saran wrap (there isn't an easy way to do this, just make sure the saran wrap is up against all those curves and crevices)
  3. Wait at least a few hours or overnight.
  4. Remove the saran wrap and use your brillo pad or scraper and scrape away the residue
  5. After all the residue is removed, spray a clean brillo pad or heavy paper towel with the after wash or mineral spirits and wipe away any extra residue.
  6. Start sanding
  7. For the hard to reach spots like the nooks and crannies of the legs, use a liquid sander or deglosser.
  8. Continue sanding until you have reached your desired finish
  9. Apply a sealer to your wood piece

If you enjoyed this post I would love for you to pin the image below!

how to strip furniture with Citristrip
How to Strip furniture and wood



Tuesday 5th of December 2023

Does the area where you are stripping the door/furniture have to be a certain temperature? I bought a vintage door for my pantry and need to strip I don't know how many layers of paint off it, but it's now winter and we don't have heat in the garage other than a little heat dish I could take out there.

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Tuesday 5th of December 2023

I know it's best to use this product strip a surface in between 65 to 85 deg F. Even though it works best in these temps that doesn't mean you can't use it in colder weather, it just won't work as well.


Sunday 10th of September 2023

Your handles don’t line up. How to fix?


Friday 19th of May 2023

I love the transformation! Thanks for the great tips!

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Monday 22nd of May 2023

Thank you!


Thursday 20th of October 2022

If you are wanting to strip the stain off a piece of furniture and then paint it a different color, would you still use the mineral spirits to clean up the paint stripper?

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Thursday 20th of October 2022

Yes I would! Just make sure to clean it well before applying the new paint.

private investigator madrid

Wednesday 27th of April 2022

Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.

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