How to Strip Furniture With Citristrip

by Danielle
2 Materials
4 Hours

I love to thrift for accent furniture pieces for my home. But, so often the wood tone is orange, red, or cherry, depending on the era of the piece. Stripping furniture is one way to get rid of that unwanted wood tone. Stripping furniture is not for the faint of heart! It can be laborious and tedious! This guide on How to Strip Furniture with Citristrip will help with that!

Disclosure: I am not a professional furniture restorer, I am only a hobbyist, and these are the steps that work for me. DO NOT attempt to strip a priceless family heirloom or antique on your own-you should probably leave that to professionals. This is not sponsored by Citristrip.

Last week, I went to a fabulous yard sale down the street. They had so many furniture pieces that I would’ve loved to have a place for, but I did pick up this barstool for $3! I had been looking for one to use for a plant stand, and this one was perfect-except the orange wood tone! However, I figured I could strip the orange off, and already had all of the materials leftover from another project. These are the steps I use to strip furniture with Citristrip.

Materials Needed:

~ C itristrip

~ S anding block, sandpaper, or electric sander

~ Chip brushes

~ Plastic scrapers

~ Mineral Spirits-this one comes with gloves!

~ Chemical resistant gloves

~ Steel wool or Scotch Brite pads (you will need several)

~ Saran or plastic wrap

~ Safety glasses

~ Blue shop towels

~Small bucket or mayo tub, something that you can use as a bucket, but could possible have to be thrown away when you’re done.

~Small metal container like a soup can

~ Wood conditioner (if planning to stain)

Step 1-Sand

Give your object a good sanding. Electric sanders are great for large surfaces, but you will probably need a block sander or sandpaper to get into the smaller grooves or curves.

Step 2-Wipe Down

After sanding, wipe your piece down with a damp rag or blue shop towel. The blue shop towels work much better than paper towels because they don’t easily disintegrate or leave debris. They can also be rinsed out and used again. Some people prefer to use a tackcloth, but I find they leave a sticky residue.

Step 3-Apply Citristrip

The remaining steps must be done outside! Put on chemical resistant gloves and eye protection. Shake the Citristrip bottle well. Pour some Citristrip into your soup can, or other metal container. In the second picture above, you’ll see that I poured it into a red disposable cup. This will work for a few hours, but then the Citristrip eats away the bottom of the cup. Brush on a thick, heavy coat with a chipbrush. Be sure to get into every nook, cranny, surface, and crevice. Double and triple check that every surface has a thick coat applied.

Step 4-Wrap in plastic wrap

After the Citristrip is thickly applied to every surface, wrap it all up in plastic wrap. (You WILL NOT be able to reuse this plastic wrap package for food! Just keep it with your materials for the next project.) You will want a better quality plastic wrap than what I used! You want it to really seal well. I leave it wrapped up overnight, but it’s best that you can get back to it within 24 hours!

Another piece in the stripping process

Step 5-Strip

With gloved hands, remove the plastic wrap. Begin scraping the surfaces with the plastic scraper. Ideally, the stain will just scrape off. If not, it’s time to really put in the elbow grease! You have two options at this point, wipe the piece down with a wet rag, rinsing the rag often, and repeat Steps 2-5, or start scrubbing down the piece with steel wool or Scotch Brite. You can pour mineral spirits on the steel wool or Scotch Brite and scrub some more.

Scrubbing with mineral spirits

Because every stained piece was made with a different product and process, this step is more of a trial and error to see what works the best. Remember, stripping is not for the faint of heart! Strip and scrub and rinse, strip and scrub, and rinse, and even sand again until you get your desired result. Scrub the piece down with mineral spirits and a rag or blue shop towel to be sure that all of the Citristrip has been removed. If you are planning on staining your piece, condition with wood conditioner, following the manufacturer’s directions. This is a great tutorial on not only how to stain, but how to build a cute bench too!

You can still see some stain

In this barstool, you can still see some stain, but I didn’t want to spend any more time on something that was just a $3 plant stand. I will probably sand the top down one more time later down the road. Maybe I’ll even attempt the legs again!

I bought this little cutie cane table for 1/2 off ($10) at a thrift store.

I did not stain it, only stripped it, as I liked the tone that the wood had underneath the reddish stain.

Resources for this project:
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  2 questions
  • Clara Clara on Mar 12, 2021

    Your projects look great. My hint is to use plastic shopping bags (fold length wise, snip off handles, cut off bottom, slit up the side) much cheaper than buying plastic wrap. I’ve used this on some pretty tough stripping projects. Works great!

  • Char Char on Mar 20, 2021

    My question is irrelevant to the project.

    Are your window blinds PURPLE?? Or is it just the lighting?

Join the conversation
4 of 14 comments