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Refinishing Wood Furniture to Remove Scratches with only Two Household Items

Refinishing wood furniture is easy with only two household items (vinegar and olive oil) to remove scratches and bring it back to life.

Removing scratches from wood can be a tiresome and daunting task, I get it! 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 easily 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.

Side note; this scratch removal hack won’t work for heavily dinged up wood furniture. This works great if you are looking to give a slightly scratched piece of wood a quick facelift.

For more in depth tutorial on how to strip wood furniture, how to stain wood or how to paint wood, check out my entire library of refinishing furniture tutorials.

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.

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!

refinishing wood furniture
refinishing furniture to make it look new again

Refinishing Wood and Removing Scratches video

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

Refinishing wood furniture can be easy with only two household items (vinegar and olive oil) to remove scratches and bring it back to life.

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!



Sunday 20th of August 2023

Good day, thank you for your advice I am going to try it on an inherrit dining room table of 75 years. I am very exited to start with the project. Than you again. Rita

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Monday 21st of August 2023

You're welcome and I hope it works!


Saturday 14th of January 2023

Will this work to take oils off the top of a wood dresser?

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Monday 16th of January 2023

I'm not sure.


Sunday 12th of June 2022

Interesting and informative thank you, the table looks wonderful. I’ve two Oak framed Edwardian William Morris type reclining chairs made for/by ‘Heals’ ((UK) arriving this week from a ship that’s being decommissioned stripped and deep cleaned ready to be sunk as an artificial reef. Both chairs are in good condition with no rot infestation or major damage but are in need of care and attention without destroying the patina of age and usage so I’ll give your recipe of White Vinegar and Olive Oil a try and see how it works out. The chairs are complete with the original horse hair filled thick cushions which will need removing and washing before being reupholstered in a Morris patterned material.

Question. Do you use any form of wax polish after the vinegar and oil clean and scratch cover or do you only ever use vinegar and oil after the first treatment?

Thank You Paul

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Wednesday 15th of June 2022

Hi Paul,

Since I've only used this vinegar and oil recipe on previously finished pieces (which originally had some form of wax or poly finish) I did not use anything like a wax to cover it. And yes you will have to retreat the wood from time to time again unfortunately.


Monday 11th of April 2022

Thank you so much for this handy tip! We have just bought a beautiful second hand wooden bed but when it arrived it had a few scratches and some of the wood had lost its beautiful colour. After a good coat of your recommended mixture and a buff it genuinely looks as good as new! 😊 Many thanks again

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Monday 11th of April 2022

Oh great! I'm so glad to know it worked for you.


Friday 28th of January 2022

Does it leave an odor from the vinegar?

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Saturday 29th of January 2022

I personally don't think it does.

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