How To Strip Furniture Without Stripper

2 Hours

Stripping wood furniture is not a fun job, but this process makes it so easy! I am showing you how to strip furniture without stripper!

I have done so many furniture projects and DIY projects throughout the years and there are definitely projects I love to do and some I never look forward to. Stripping furniture is one of the “never look forward to” projects. I don’t like it at all. It is messy. It is time-consuming. It is A LOT of work. None of that is fun to I won’t pick up pieces that need it.

Until now.

I have just tried a new process that may have changed my mind completely. I am going to share how to strip furniture without stripper.

I picked up this mirror at a thrift store many months ago. It was the only piece I had to try this technique on. The process that I am going to talk about today has been done by many people. So much so, that I started getting requests to try it from my Instagram audience. They wanted me to be the guinea pig and see if this process actually worked. I was happy to try this new technique and give my honest opinion.

{Affiliate links are used in this post. Click on any of the underlined links to find the products I am talking about. You can read my disclosure HERE.}

Supplies Used To Strip Furniture Without Stripper:

Oven Cleaner



I went to Walmart and bought the generic oven cleaner and the Easy-Off oven cleaner. I wanted to try them both on the frame of the mirror and see if they worked the same.

I started the project by covering up the mirror.

Then, I sprayed the wood frame with the oven cleaner. I sprayed the generic on one side and the Easy-Off on the other side to get a comparison.

The photo above is what it looked like after I sprayed. The only difference between the generic and the Easy-Off was that the generic didn’t foam as much.

I let the cleaner sit on the wood for about an hour and then came back to scrub it.

I used a scrub brush that I picked up from Walmart and it worked fine, but I linked better brushes up above under the supply list. I first saw this process done by Shannan from Tea House Designs. When she saw that I was trying it out, we were messaging back and forth about it. She has done it so many times that she has found the brushes linked above are the best. She will never use anything other than those brushes. She has tried almost everything and does this a lot, so I took her advice and ordered the brushes (which is the set I buy for my kitchen anyway).

The brush I got from Walmart did a good job. Make sure you wear old clothes. The stain and oven cleaner does splatter a lot.

This is what it will look like as the stain is coming off. This is not wood splinters or shards. It is the stain coming up.

Once I had scrubbed all the wood, I sprayed it down with water and all of that stain debris came off.

Yep! Just turned on the hose and sprayed the wood with water to rinse the oven cleaner and the stain off. At this point, the tape started coming off, so I did my next layer of oven cleaner with the mirror uncovered. It didn’t hurt the mirror at all. If you would feel more comfortable using a rag and a bucket with water, you can do that too. The hose worked fine. Water won’t hurt wood unless you leave it soaked forever. It will hurt veneered pieces though so keep that in mind. After I rinsed it all off, I let it dry for about twenty minutes before applying one last layer of the oven cleaner.

I let this layer of the oven cleaner sit for longer than the first layer because my dad stopped over to visit. When I came out to walk him to the car, this is what the frame looked like!!!! I couldn’t believe it! I had not scrubbed it again. It is like it did all the work while I was visiting with my dad. I was blown away. I did use my brush again yo scrub off anything that may have been on there and then rinsed it all off with the hose again.

I let it sit overnight to fully dry.

The next morning, it looked amazing! I did give the wood a light sanding with fine sandpaper (320 grit) to just smooth it out. It wasn’t full of splinters. I was basically wiping off any leftover residue from the oven cleaner. The sanding took all of two minutes.

I used our small blower to blow off the sanding dust.

I brought it inside and cleaned the mirror with vinegar and water to get all the oven cleaner off of it.

Look at it now!!!

What I love most about this process is that the oven cleaner can get into the crevices where the regular stripper gets stuck and clogged and it is hard to get out. The oven cleaner gets down into the crevices and does all the work and all you have to do is rinse it all out and the crevises are stripped!

When I saw the finished mirror, I thought that it totally had a new vibe. It looked like a boho-chic mirror now. It didn’t look like the dark, old mirror any longer.

The details really stand out now.

I have to say, I am amazed. I can’t believe this worked as well as it did. I didn’t know what to expect. I learned a lot throughout the process and there is not much I would do differently.

Now that I know how to strip furniture without stripper, I am so excited to try it again.

I wanted to share some of the questions I got while I was doing this project in my stories on Instagram.

Could you use steel wool?

I would think that would work great. I did talk with Shannan like I mentioned above and she said she will never use anything other than the brushes I linked above. She has tried everything else and has found those brushes to work the best.

Can you just wipe it off – worried about the water?

Water won’t hurt the wood if you aren’t submerging the piece in water for long periods of time. You definitely want to make sure and let the piece dry after you rinse it. You could use a bucket, water, and a rag for sure. Might take longer, but it is worth a shot!

What brush should I get to use in the process?

I would recommend the brushes I link above in the supply list.

Should I seal it?

It depends on what you want it to look like. Do you like the raw wood look? If not, you could definitely seal it with a topcoat, salve, or wax. The sealant will change the color a bit so just be aware of that.

Did you really just spray it with the hose?


Was there a difference between the generic and the original Easy-Off?

The only difference I saw on this project was that the generic didn’t foam as much. Other than that, they performed the same way. I will buy the generic when I need more.

Did the oven cleaner ruin the glass on the mirror?

My mom was worried about that too, but it did not. I even left the oven cleaner on the mirror overnight as the frame dried.

Did you have shards of wood in the end? Splinters?


Can you use it on painted pieces? Chalk paint?

Shannan told me that she has had success with painted pieces, but chalk paint is very hard to get off. I am excited to find a painted piece to try it on after she told me that.

Would this work on real oak that has an orange tint?

I would definitely try it!

If you have any other questions, let me know.

After seeing how to strip furniture without stripper, is it something you want to try?


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

How To Tell If A Piece Of Furniture Is Real Wood

3 Awesome Tips for a Successful Furniture Flip Every Time

Brush Strokes: 3 Tips For Getting Rid Of Them

Lindsay Eidahl
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 40 questions
  • Annette Annette on Nov 29, 2021

    Will this work on multiple layers of paint?

  • Patricia Patricia on Dec 10, 2021

    I have old, mahogany bedroom furniture that I would like to paint. The dresser and bureau have many coats of spray wax and dirt. How do I begin?

  • Donna Donna on Oct 20, 2022

    Was there a difference in the two different oven cleaners?

Join the conversation
3 of 107 comments
  • Lindsay Eidahl Lindsay Eidahl on Nov 23, 2022

    It is not shaving cream. It is oven cleaner. Good luck with your project!

  • Franb Franb on Jan 04, 2023

    This is very Beautiful! I love natural wood. Nothing beats it. I am going to try your method on my kitchen cabinets. I can't stand looking at them anymore and to do thru all the work of using paint thinner, it'll take me months! BTW - if using this process to get down to the bare wood, what would you recommend for restaining the wood? I would think that the chemicals in the oven cleaner would be imbedded in the wood. Might just have to repaint.

    • Lindsay Eidahl Lindsay Eidahl on Jan 04, 2023

      I have never tried this on cabinets so I can't speak on that. This process has worked good for me on other items.