How To Strip Paint Off Wood Without Stripper

2 Materials
1 Hour

Ever since I tried the oven cleaner stripping technique on this mirror, I have wanted to see if it would work on wood that has been painted. I haven’t found a good piece of painted furniture to try it on, but I recently found a wood box that was the perfect candidate. This post will show you how to strip paint off wood without the mess and long process of a traditional, harsh stripping product.

Here is a short video showing you the process of this project:

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Supplies Used To Remove The Paint From This Wood Box

Oven Cleaner (this one is cheaper and works great)

Steel Wool – (I used a super fine grit for this project. If the paint was tougher to get off, I would have gone with a coarser grit.)

Fine Mist Spray Bottle (filled with water)

Paper Towels

Side Note: I have used both the name brand and the generic oven cleaner on the stripping projects I have done. I have found that the generic works just as well and is about half the cost of the name brand.

9 Easy Steps To Strip Paint Off Wood Without The Traditional Stripper Solution

  1. Shake the can of oven cleaner for 3o seconds.
  2. Spray the painted area with the oven cleaner. I put a really good coat of oven cleaner on the painted area.
  3. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Scrub the painted area with steel wool. PRO TIP: It’s a good idea to have different coarse steel wool for projects like this. The paint on this box came off with a fine-grit, but I did have a coarser grit on hand in case I needed it.
  5. Once you have the paint off, spray the area with water.
  6. Wipe down/clean with a paper towel.
  7. Let it dry completely.
  8. You may want to sand after it dries depending on the piece.
  9. Then, you can add a topcoat if you like or leave it raw.

Once I sprayed the area down with water and cleaned it off, the black, painted leaf was still on the box. I repeated the process, let the oven cleaner sit on it a bit longer and it came right off when I scrubbed it with the steel wool.

This is what it looked like when it was all dry.

I didn’t sand it or add a topcoat when I took the final pictures. For this post, I wanted to share the outcome and what it looked like without that.

I did spray the oven cleaner on the sides that didn’t have paint as well. I was hoping it would lighten them as the oven cleaner did with this mirror. It did lighten the wood a little bit.

The pictures below are the sides that had paint on them.

I was very skeptical about this process. I didn’t think it would work as well as it did. But now that I know this is how to strip paint off wood without the work and mess or traditional stripper, I am hooked!

Since this worked so well, I will be doing it again. The only thing I would add to the process is sanding once the wood is completely dry in the end. I just wanted to share what the oven cleaner did alone to remove the paint for this post.

The oven cleaner makes light work of this kind of project. I am amazed.

I know I will be asked about adding a topcoat if and when I do this again. It will depend on the piece and the look I am going for. Sometimes, I like the raw wood look and other times, I like to add a topcoat.

Now that you have seen this process, do you think you would give it a try? If you do, share a photo on Instagram and tag me @mycreativedays. I would love to see it!


If you liked this post, you will also love these posts:

10 Ways To Transform Furniture

How To Clean A Piece Of Furniture Before Painting

How To Find Old Furniture With Ease

Resources for this project:
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Lindsay Eidahl
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 7 questions
  • Kelly D Powers Kelly D Powers on Feb 11, 2022

    Do you think this process would be ok to use in stripping wood furniture? An old hutch for example.

  • Lauren Lauren on Feb 11, 2022

    What am I missing? This product is just as harsh as stripper and you can get stripper in a non aerosol. I'm sincerely asking what the positive is here - do you save time?

  • Lisa Lisa on Jan 30, 2024

    How do you remove the remaining "ghost" image of the original decoration that is showing in the photographs?

Join the conversation
5 of 20 comments
  • Myra Myra on Feb 07, 2023

    I've been using oven cleaner as a stripper for years, only I use a putty knife and old rags to clean it off. It also works great on metal. Did an old iron bed with many coats of paint and it turned out beautiful.

  • Johanne Palange Johanne Palange on Feb 07, 2023

    Your project looks very nice. However, I don't know what I'm missing, but let me tell you, I did it on old wooden chairs that had many coats of different kinds of paint on them over 40 years, and it did nothing. It did not work, as well as smelling awful. Oven cleaner makes me cough violently. I will be sticking to Citristrip covered in plastic wrap and left to work for 24 hours.

    • See 1 previous
    • JH JH on Jan 30, 2024

      It's great she is using a safe product that does not turn the wood black. Plus rinsing this off in the yard is toxic to the environment.

      Folks, this was posted to get clicks on her affiliated links.

      Go on YouTube and watch the videos comparing oven cleaner to actual wood stripper. You will be alarmed!!