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, although I may earn a small commission if you purchase from my links.
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.
~Sanding block, sandpaper, or electric sander
~Mineral Spirits-this one comes with gloves!
~Steel wool or Scotch Brite pads (you will need several)
~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, or even better a glass jar with a lid!
~Wood conditioner (if planning to stain)
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 glass jar. 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. Don’t do it, I learned the hard way!!! A glass jar is ideal because you can put the lid on it when not using and keep any extra you may have in the jar fresh. 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!
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.
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!
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.
Get everything you need for this project!
Do you want to learn another furniture painting technique (no stripping required!)
Or how to makeover a thrifted lamp?
Or my Number 1 most pinned post!!! It’s so fun and easy, and you probably already have everything you need!!!
Well done! I have used Citristrip in the past. Stripping furniture is no joke! I think I swore to never do it again!😂
It is no joke!!! And every time I do it, I say I’ll never do it again!!! And then I do it again.
Kim Waldorf says
Wow! who knew?? that is amazing stuff. Definitely pinning this for later. Thanks for sharing and your pieces came out great!
Thanks so much! I hope you try it-but beware-it can be laborious!
Stripping furniture is a beast! I’ll have to try citristrip next time!
It sure is!!! Citristrip does make it a lot better!
Carol Karl says
Great information in this post. I have never wrapped a piece of furniture in clingwrap! That’s interesting but I can understand why it works. Thanks for sharing.
Who would think, right!!! I’ve tried without the plastic wrap, but it really work so much better with it!
citristrip is one of my favorites for stripping furniture.
Doesn’t it make it so much easier!
I’ve never heard of this! thanks for sharing! Everything looks amazing!
It really does make furniture stripping easier!
I love Citristrip! I never thought to do the saran wrap. I’ll have to try that. I have a small ledge that I want to strip and your post is reminding me of it lol. thanks for inspiring me!
Saran wrap really does seem to speed up the process! Thanks for reading!
Kimberly Jones Snyder says
thanks for sharing this! I have an older piece that is in need of a makeover like this! I will have to try it! your pieces turned out great! I really like the table with the caning!
Yes, you will definitely have to try! The caned table is one of my favorite finds!
Mary @ The Handcrafted Haven says
Loved reading this because I never use stripper – always just keep sanding to get the finish off. Loved reading how you approach removing the finish! Thanks so much for sharing a link to my stained bench! So sweet of you. have a wonderful day!
Of course! Thanks for allowing me to link it! Stripper ideally will speed up the sanding process!
Heidi | The Frugal Girls says
Your 5 easy steps really help to break down the process… and I appreciated the reminder to get some chemical resistant gloves!
Truth be told-I don’t know if my gloves are chemical resistant or not-but do as I say not as I do! LOL!
Love your ideas here, definitely something if love to try and hack
Thanks so much, Rachel! It really does make things easier!
Chas Greener says
I’ve been wanting to try this on an old hope chest. Thank you for the great information and tutorial.
Thanks so much, Chas! I hope you try it! The secret really is in the cellophane overnight!!!