Extreme Table Top Cleaning!

9 Materials
2 Hours

This project was born out of frustration! While putting away my Christmas crate display, I realized some of the fiberfil "snow" I used had stuck to the top of the cabinet it was displayed on. It was time to do something!

This mid-century modern cabinet was a Craigslist find that came out of the home of a smoker. There was decades of cigarette smoke, tar, nicotine and grime built up on it that caused the top to be sticky.Just a word of caution. This is an EXTREME method of cleaning. It worked on this teak piece, but it could have easily damaged this as well. Your results may vary so use this at your own risk. I was willing to try this because if it hadn't worked, I would have had to completely strip the piece. I was willing to take that risk.

Note that using acetone on a poly finish will eat through it and you WILL have to totally refinish the piece. I know so because back in the day Steph spilled a bit of nail polish remover (acetone) on our dining room table and it left a quarter size mark in the finish. This teak cabinet did not appear to have a finish on it other than perhaps an oil finish. I don't know for sure.

A table top should not attract fuzz and keep it there!

Watch the video to see the process. All that dark stuff is decades of grime! I tried all kind of internet suggested cleaning methods including mineral spirits, Krud Kutter, soap and water, and vinegar--nothing worked!

To clean, I'm using acetone, high quality paper towels (these are the Shop Towel brand), chip brush, glass container, puppy pad, Dawn dishwashing liquid, face mask, microfiber cloths, and Murphy's oil soap. Work in a well ventilated area and wear a face mask. I opened a window and pointed a fan at it to blow fumes away from me.

I found brushing on the acetone worked better than putting it directly on a paper towel.

Work in a small area and wipe immediately. If you don't, it gets gummy and you have to do that section over.

This is what came off the surface. Keep the dirty paper towels off the newly cleaned surface. I'm using the puppy pad to protect the cleaned surface and as a place to put those used paper towels.

After using the acetone, I cleaned the surface of the wood. I dampened a microfiber cloth with water and added a tiny amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid. I followed that with another microfiber cloth dampened with water to clean off the soap. You could follow this with a dry cloth to dry the surface of the top,

I followed that with a spray of Murphy's oil soap.

A little more dirt dirt came off!


AFTER! The teak just glows. I did use teak oil to finish as there were some dry looking spots following the cleaning which can happen as acetone is very drying to wood. I followed the directions on the can of teak oil I used. Note: I only did the top and edge of this piece of furniture not the entire cabinet as only the horizontal surfaces had this level of grime. I'm pretty sure, I'd never use this method on an entire piece.

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