How to refinish Wood Furniture and Remove Scratches

Removing scratches from wood- do you know any good products? I see so many great pieces of solid wood furniture at thrift stores and yard sales because someone just didn’t want to take the time to refinish it. I’m going to show you two household ingredients to refinish wood furniture and remove scratches from the wood.

Do you own a solid piece of wood furniture that used to look great but now it’s a little dinged up and worn? Maybe this old piece of furniture has been handed down through a few generations and might not be in the best condition anymore.  Do me a favor, don’t EVER get rid of it because it can be brought back to life.

Guess what? I found a super easy and cheap (probably free if you have the items on hand)  hack to restore and rejuvenate wood.

remove scratches from wood

A friend of mine was moving and getting rid of a really nice solid wood desk, so I jumped on the opportunity to grab it. I loved the style of this antique piece of furniture.

The wood was in great condition, well, all but the top piece of the desk. It had obviously been used to write on. It was all scratched up and the top piece of wood was a different color than the rest of the desk.

This is when I decided to refinish the desk with a trick I learned using just a few household ingredients.

the desk before I applied the solution to remove scratches

You can see above the scratch marks and discoloration from years of wear and tear. Although this desk was not in terrible condition, I still wanted to refinish the wood.

Since I already knew this was a solid piece of antique wood furniture, I wanted to find an easy way to “polish” or remove the scratches without having to sand and re stain the wood.

Doesn’t wood polish remove scratches from furniture?

My first thought was, “Duh, I just needed to buy polish.”  The problem with polish is that it looks great for the first hour after you’ve cleaned it. Once the polish is dry, the cracks come back and it looks just like it did before it was polished. Anyone else feel this way?

I needed a product that would really absorb deep into the wood and remove the scratches and make it look new and refinished.

The older I get the more I’ve learned to look around the house and use natural household items for cleaning rather than harsh abrasive (and expensive) products.

Speaking of household items used to refinish furniture, check out my list of household items I used to stain wood.

Let me tell you, some of the best cleaning tricks are from simple products like Vinegar.

Speaking of Vinegar, this is one of the two items I found that works wonders for removing and refinishing wood furniture.

When my mom told me about this little furniture refinishing “hack,” I thought it would be just like using regular furniture polish. What I mean is, I thought it might work for an hour or so and then the scratches and dings would re appear.

Guess what, I was delightfully wrong.

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Household solution to refinish wood furniture

Note: I only needed less than 1/4 of this mixture for the top of this desk. If you are not doing a full furniture piece I would suggest to mix up 1 part vinegar to 1 part olive oil with enough product you think you will need. 

White distilled vinegar and olive oil used to remove wood scratches

Mix these two ingredients and use a soft cloth to dip and rub all over the wood furniture. You should be able to see the scratches magically disappear!

How does olive oil and vinegar work to remove scratches from wood?

Vinegar is acidic and works to cut through the dirt and grime and clean the wood very well while the olive oil really seeps into the wood and covers the scratches and small abrasions. The oil also puts moisture back into the wood to help restore the color.

Refinishing furniture hack with only TWO household ingredients

After I rubbed the vinegar/oil solution over the piece of furniture with a lint free rag, I let it sit about 10 minutes. After about 10 minutes I took a dry cloth and wiped the excess moisture away. I honestly expected to see the scratches reappear, but magically about 90% of them are gone!

Below is a picture of the AFTER!

How to refinish Wood Furniture and Remove Scratches
refinishing furniture to make it look new again
The desk after I applied the vinegar and olive oil to remove scratches
How to refinish Wood Furniture and Remove Scratches

Best part about this wipe-on finish furniture hack- it restored the top of the desk to the same color as the rest of this piece.

It’s funny how a few household items can work as well, or better, than a cleaning or refinishing furniture product you could buy at the store.

Get out the vinegar and olive oil and start bringing those old antique beauties back to life!

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How to refinish Wood Furniture and Remove Scratches
refinishing wood with household items

How to refinish Wood Furniture and Remove Scratches

refinishing wood to make it look new again

Learn how I used two household items (vinegar and olive oil) to refinish wood furniture and remove scratches on an antique desk and make it look new again. 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost 10 dollars


  • Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Lint Free cloth


  1. Mix 1 part vinegar to 1 part olive oil
  2. Use your lint free cloth to apply the mixture to the wood in direction of the wood grain
  3. Let the solution sit on the wood about 10 minutes
  4. After 10 minutes take a dry cloth and wipe the excess moisture away


Vinegar is acidic and works to cut through the dirt and grime and clean the wood very well while the olive oil really seeps into the wood and covers the scratches and small abrasions. The oil also puts moisture back into the wood to help restore the color.

I love finding easy household hacks to bring old things back to life!


31 thoughts on “How to refinish Wood Furniture and Remove Scratches

    1. I understand the oil and vinegar action. I would be concerned about the olive oil turning rancid over time. Maybe mineral oil would be more neutral? This sounds much better than the chemicals sold to strip a finish
      Thanks, Debbie

      1. I I have used vegetable oil on my leather furniture w/o any rancid problem. It’s probably because I didn’t soak it in oil. AM trying this on my antique table today! Stay tuned! 🤞

  1. Great job Lindsey. I’ve been using it for years. It is all natural and good for your wood.

  2. Did you mean
    2 1/2 cups of olive oil? 2 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil? Please clarify the amount of olive oil.

    1. Bonnie,
      I’m sorry for the confusion. I edited my post to read 1 part vinegar to 1 part olive oil. I mixed up 1/2 cup vinegar to 1/2 cup olive oil, and I only ended up using about 1/4 of it. Let me know if you have any more questions.

    1. Every piece of furniture is different. Wish I had a concrete answer for that, but I don’t. I would give it a try and see how long it lasts. I’ve heard from other people who have done this and they said their scratches were gone for months!

  3. What a marvelous piece of furniture. I’m so glad you were able to restore it. I’m going to use that tip too. As a little girl, I lived in a small town in Kentucky where a shop handmade cherry furniture in the colonial style. That piece looks like the dining room furniture and bedroom furniture that my mom had. Those pieces are now in the hands of granddaughters.

  4. Okay, I’m going to give this a try! Thank you so much for posting this–I’d never have thought of using vinegar and olive oil together!

    And thanks for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  5. I have an old sewing machine in a cabinet sitting in my garage. The top of the cabinet is in pretty bad shape, I am on my way to give this a try!!! Thanks for the info.

  6. Thank you so much for this tip, Lindsey. I tried it out on the nightstands in my bedroom and I was very impressed with the results! I recently had the banister in my home refinished by a local wood refinishing company, and they did a great job, but I’m going to keep this hack handy to use on the banister in the future!

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