Asked on May 1, 2017

Need help cleaning vintage industrial crates for planting...

Devon ThibeaultAngela Ley


I've already power washed and at least one layer of dirt is gone. But the wood seems like its oily.

2 answers
  • Angela Ley
    on May 1, 2017

    Oil can be removed with a mineral spirit. Use gloves in a well ventilated area. Use a clean cloth and work into the wood. Repeat until oil is gone. You will then have to wash with a mild detergent. Then rinse.
  • Devon Thibeault
    on May 1, 2017

    Angela's answer is a good start. However, some oils are more difficult to get out than others. It may be necessary to clean the wood a couple of times as more oil migrates to the surface. Or to use a stronger solvent such as kerosene. It is also possible that the wood is naturally oily. Crates and pallets are often fabricated from second quality woods that are common in their country of origin. I once got my hands on a pallet that was made of Brazilian cherry.

    If cleaning with solvents doesn't deal with the oiliness, or the wood is naturally oily, you may need to seal the wood with shellac. Clean the wood with denatured alcohol, and once the solvent evaporates, but before the oil returns to the surface, coat with shellac. Both denatured alcohol and pre-mixed shellac are available at most hardware stores and home centers. The alcohol can also be used to clean the brushes you used with the shellac.
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