Citristrip question?

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For those of you who have used citristrip paste, I have a few questions please. I have an old cabinet/drawers, glass door, and a few intricate swirled areas in the wood. I coated it the other day, and the dark varnish (or whatever it is) seemed to come off quite easily for the most part. Problem is, it was much warmer/humid that I thought, and it started to get dark (working outside), so had to stop. Then, it was just too hot the next couple of days. However, I not have some dried on citristrip, and it's as if the dark varnish just spread across the rest of the piece as I was scrapping off the big globs of varnish. So now my question is, how do I get what appears to be dried on citristrip residue off, as well as the dark color that was spread as I scraped? Do I do another complete covering with cirtistrip (there is one area I do need to reappy as I missed it), or would wiping it down completely with mineral spirits remove all the dark residue? Also, how do I go about removing the gunk in the 'swirled/crevices' wood area? I was able to get the stripper down into the areas, but removing it was difficult! Any pointers would be appreciated! Thanks!


  13 answers
  • William William on Oct 01, 2021

    Apply more stripper to the area. Should soften up. You scrape off majority of it and also wipe it off. Use a small brass brush with some stripper and brush the crevices and decorative inlays and wipe off. Brass will not affect the wood. Use water to neutralize the stripper. You will need to sand the cabinet once the stripper is off.

  • The dried Citristrip should flake right off with a light scraping. After that, apply another coat according to directions. I like to wrap my piece in plastic wrap to keep it wet longer. I've used warm, soapy water and an old toothbrush in crevices and detailed areas.

  • Mogie Mogie on Oct 01, 2021

    How long did you leave the citristrip on?

    According to the manufacturer, Citristrip paint and varnish stripping gel will stay active and remove layers of unwanted paint and finish for up to 24 hours as long as it remains wet.

    Just scrap or sand the area.

  • Lynn Lynn on Oct 01, 2021

    I removed the vast majority of the varnish by scraping off after the citristrip sat on the item for some time. But, I didn't have time to wipe it off completely after scraping so there is residual varnish/dried citristrip I need to now remove. So didn't know if I should just recoat the whole thing, or use mineral spirits or something else to wipe on/off with a cloth.

  • You’ll need to apply more stripper to re-activate the stuff that dried. It’ll be just fine. To get the intricate parts, apply the stripper and use a toothbrush or similar to work out the gunk. It may take a couple of tries. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves while doing that.

    • Lynn Lynn on Oct 01, 2021

      I worried I'd left the stripper residue on too long. Good to know it'll be ok once reactivated. Thanks!

  • Janice Janice on Oct 01, 2021

    Just add another layer of Citristrip and cover with a plastic drop cloth, plastic wrap or plastic bags wot keep the new stripper moist until you're ready to work on the piece again. Scrape away and dispose of the stripper and varnish/paint that comes away with the stripper. You may need to reapply stripper more than once. As William mentioned, a brass brush can be used to insure the stripper gets into the various dimensions of the piece. Scrub away the remaining stripper using a brass brush or another soft-bristled brush. Rinse well and dry before redoing the piece as you want.

    • Lynn Lynn on Oct 01, 2021

      I'll hunt down a brush to get the nooks and crannies. Knowing I can wipe down with water helps get the residual varnish out of the crevices helps. Thanks!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Oct 01, 2021

    Just remember from your high school science class, like dissolves like. Apply more Citristrip, you could cover it with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Then scrape off or scrape off with an old small brush-like a toothbrush. When done rinse off with water and thoroughly dry, Be certain you do not saturate the wood with water, it will pull the grain out of the wood.

  • Lynn Lynn on Oct 01, 2021

    Ive always steered clear of refinishing furniture. I didn't realize I could wipe it off with water! I'll give it a go after another coat. Thanks

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Oct 02, 2021

    Hi! I've done this, too. Reapply the Citristrip in small sections and ot will soften up. When I finish for the day, I take a soft scrub brush and some warm soapy water and rinse the piece off. I like the scrub brushes at Dollar Tree because they are very soft. They also sell denture brushes that work great for getting into the grooves. Then I wipe it down with a microfiber cloth and let it dry thoroughly before sanding. The more residue and goop you get off, the easier the sanding will go. Good luck!

  • Sharon Sharon on Oct 03, 2021

    When you apply, so smaller areas rather than the whole piece, put plastic wrap on the areas you want to remain moist. Reapply if it does dry out. Detail areas I use steel wool, or small toothbrush-sized brass brushes, even dental picks if very narrow deep details.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Oct 04, 2021

    I had a similar issue happen and it is horrendous to remove citristrip once it is dried.

    I ended up added a very thin coat over the dried and used a stiff scrubbing tool (OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush) made for crevice cleaning.

  • Dee Dee on Oct 05, 2021

    Put some more Citristrip on the area, use an old toothbrush to get into the crevices. You can also use a brass brush to get into the harder places. Steel wool works also, just make sure it is 000 fine steel wool. Wear gloves and do small areas at one time.