How to Strip Furniture The Easy Way

I know I just published a post showing you how I used two household items to refinish scratched wood,  but even after I removed the scratches I still wasn’t happy with the antique desk.  I tossed around the idea of completely stripping the wood, 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 furniture the easy way with minimal sanding. Let me tell you friends, this is a game changer.

stripping furniture the easy way

I’ve been stripping 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 paint, stain and polyurethane.

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 red finish. My choices were simple; paint it, leave it, or strip it.

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 the paint.  I made up my mind that I would keep the desk as it is.

Just when I almost gave up my idea of stripping any paint off of this furniture piece, I got a great tip from a friend.

Y’all ready for this? She said to use a spray stripper on the desk and then wrap it with saran wrap and leave it overnight.

Saran Wrap? Whoa, this was a new one.

I’ve been stripping polyurethane, paint and stain off of furniture for years, why haven’t I heard of this? Either way, I had to give it a try.

First, I needed to gather up supplies:

  • gloves
  • plastic drop cloth
  • saran wrap (I still couldn’t believe I would be using this)
  • paint stripper (I used Citri Strip, I’ve attached an affiliate link below)

  • paint scraper
  • brillo pad or steel wool (a couple of these)
  • sand paper
  • electric sander (not necessary, but helpful)
  • paper towels
  • Klean Strip After Wash (mineral spirits or TSP work too)

Time to start Stripping some furniture.


  1. spray the desk with citristrip. 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. It is better to leave it 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 solution and wipe away any extra residue.
  6. start sanding
  7. continue sanding until you have reached your desired finish!

Here are some images from the progress:

stripping furniture the easy way

I’ve sprayed it down with Citri Strip and covered it with saran wrap.

Below is a video I created from YouTube;

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

stripping furniture the easy way

stripping furniture the easy way

I used the electric sander for the top of the wood and some of the flat areas, but for the legs and the drawer, I used regular old sand paper and a little arm strength.

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

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

stripping furniture the easy way

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 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.

stripping furniture the easy way

Above is the drawer before I used the bleach.

Applying the bleach

I dabbed a little bleach on a heavy paper towel and wiped it all over the wood on the desk.

I let it sit about an hour until it was dry, and WOW!

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 officially done!

stripping furniture the easy way

stripping furniture the easy way

stripping furniture the easy way

stripping furniture the easy way

stripping furniture the easy way

stripping furniture the easy way

stripping furniture the easy way

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.

If you want to see more posts in a blog series all about Furniture Painting and refinishing 101 just head HERE. painting and refinishing furniture 101

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

If you enjoyed this post I would love for you to pin the image below or you can see it HERE!

how to strip furniture the easy way


To see more furniture projects like this one click HERE

54 thoughts on “How to Strip Furniture The Easy Way

  1. I’ve used the cling film w CitriStrip and it works great! Haven’t tried the other stripper yet. I also bleached a chair but I used oxalic acis crystals, never just regular bleach. Good idea. The crystals sure burn if you get them on your skin, at least it did for me. The table came out great, such pretty lines. See why you wanted to keep it straight wood. Nice work.

  2. Your desk really looks great! I am so happy to have found this post as I just purchased a vintage bankers chair and want to strip it and have it look like the finish on your desk. I have never stripped furniture before, only painted, so I know this will save me time and effort. Thank you so very much!!!

    1. you are very welcome and I sure hope it works! I’ve stripped a lot of furniture and every piece is different as far as how long and how much effort it takes the remove the layers. Good luck!

  3. You do some amazing work. I found you from the link party on Organize 31. I am going to subscribe to your blog so I can keep this handy. I am about to build a house and need some great ideas that me and my wife can do to decorate it. I also followed all your social media profiles. Again really love your pictures and work. Your blog looks amazing. Big like from me!

  4. What an awesome tip! Definitely saving to my DIY Tips & Tricks boards…because I KNOW I’ll need this someday (I’ve got an old jewelry chest that could use a little love) Thanks so much for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

  5. WOW I love this. I did see your post on instagram and I was wondering what you did. Thank goodness I found your post at the handmade hangout party. By the time I went back on instagram, I couldn’t find it again. ha. Thanks so much for your post! I love new refinishing techniques:)

    1. I struggled to figure out a way to seal it without bringing the red tones out. All i’ve done so far is seal the top of it with a matte polyacrylic. It did bring out a little bit of the red, so I’m still trying to decide if I want to use it on the rest of the piece. If you have any suggestions on another product I’m all ears.

      1. What about Annie Sloan White Wax? It is very subtle and has to “sit” a while before wiping back or it does not leave a white residue. You might even like the look if a tiny bit fell into the crevices 🙂

        1. Now I’ve never tried their white wax! I use their clear and dark wax all the time, but I’ve never heard of the white wax. Is it a new product? I’m definitely going to look into this, thanks for the tip.

      2. You will never completely get rid of the red tone but by incorporating more brown into the wood with a darker stain you would be able to stain it then seal it with a tung oil which would bring ou the luster of the wood. Right now it looks unfinished.

  6. I love the Saran wrap trick. It makes sense, that it will just sit and cook and give the stripping compound time to work. I will try this! Thanks for sharing with PitStop.

  7. Oooo eeM Gee Lindsey, she turned out so gorgeous. I’m so glad you decided to strip instead of paint. I think sometimes we go a little overboard with the whole paint thing. Pinned to my Hacks&Revamps boards, because I’m so going to try this

  8. I’ve never stripped furniture before but I’ve wanted to. When I do these tips are going to come in very handy. Thank you for sharing with us at Celebrate Your Story, and have a great weekend.

  9. This turned out GREAT! I have a couple of pieces I have to do, but have been putting off. It’s a project that once I start, I will want to finish & my schedule has been crazy. Definitely this fall – you’re inspiring me to get going now that everyone is off to school here (finally). Thanks for sharing at Reader Tip Tuesday – hope to see you at this week’s party: xo

  10. In the process of doing this to a plant side table and a beautiful dresser. Yes I know (crazy) two projects at once. So far so good, I didn’t let the gel stay on long enough for the legs of the side table so I’m letting the dresser go a full 24 hours. Will tag you in photos!!

  11. Hi Lindsey – I just purchased 2 beautiful oak dressers that the seller painted white. She was going for the
    Shabby look, but they look awful. Was going to strip them and then saw your idea! Do you think it would work as well on PAINT. She also painted the drawer pulls instead of removing them! Yikes.

    1. Hi Tani,
      this technique works BETTER on paint than stain actually! I’m about to strip a piece of furniture that had a “shabby white” finish too. I hate when people paint over pretty wood! Good luck with your project!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.