Does Vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?

Image of painted wood. However, Does Vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?Vinegar is a versatile kitchen staple that sometimes comes in handy in woodworking projects. Painters often use it to clean wooden surfaces, and if you soak some steel wool in it, you get an affordable solution that will give your wood an aged look. Because it has several uses in woodworking, most of you still ask, Does Vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?

Vinegar does not remove paint from wood. Instead, it makes the coating soft enough to scrape off the surface. Vinegar is a natural and non-toxic alternative to harsh chemical paint strippers, but it will take more time and effort to get all the paint off.

If you are looking for a non-toxic solution to soak your paint for easy removal then you should consider using vinegar.

How To Remove Paint From Wood with Vinegar

  • Start by putting ½ a cup of distilled white vinegar into a microwavable container, then heat it in a microwave oven. Make sure that the vinegar doesn’t boil over to ensure its effectiveness. Alternatively, you could pour the vinegar into a saucepan then heat it over an open fire.
  • Next, dip a clean cloth or paintbrush in the hot vinegar, then dab it generously over the painted wood.
  • Wait 10-15 minutes for the paint to soften, and if it’s still stuck after the time elapses, repeat the process.
  • Once the paint softens, use a paint scraper or a wire brush to scrub off the paint. Do not scrape too hard because you might leave scuff marks on the bare wood.
  • Once all the paint comes off, use a clean damp towel to wipe off the vinegar while removing any traces of paint and dirt.

What Home Remedy Removes Paint from Wood?

Apart from vinegar, other products readily available in most homes are excellent at removing paint from wood. These are:

  • Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)

Like vinegar, baking soda is a versatile household staple that homeowners use widely for cooking and cleaning. Painters also use it as an affordable non-toxic paint remover for several surfaces, including wood.

To use baking soda as a paint stripper:

  • Fill a pot about halfway full with some water, then add ½ a cup of baking soda to it.
  • Place the pot on open heat and bring the mix to a low boil on medium heat.
  • Using a brush for large surfaces or a sponge for smaller areas, apply the hot mixture over the painted area, then let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Once the coat softens, use a scraping tool to remove the paint. Repeat the process if the paint remains stuck to some parts of the surface.

Even though baking soda effectively removes paint, it can damage wood, especially hardwoods. So, always apply the heated baking soda solution on a small inconspicuous patch on your surface to see how the wood reacts before proceeding.

Also, don’t let the mixture sit on the painted area for more than 15 minutes to minimize its chances of ruining your wood.

  • Washing soda (Sodium Carbonate)

Washing soda is another harmless and inexpensive way of removing paint from wood. For this method:

  • Start by mixing equal parts of washing soda and cold water in a container. In another vessel, add ⅔ cup of flour to some warm water, then mix to form a paste. Once both mixtures are ready, put them together in one container and stir.
  • Next, brush the mixture of water, soda, and flour onto the surface you want to remove paint from, then let it sit for a few hours. The mixture may start to harden as it sits, so spritz it with some water regularly to keep it moist.
  • Once the paint is soft enough, scrape it off with your preferred tool, then clean the surface with a vinegar-water solution.

Like any other homemade paint stripping recipe, do a spot check on a hidden area of your surface before proceeding with washing soda to know if it poses any damaging risks.

Tip: Avoid using this method on painted oak and mahogany surfaces because washing soda may blacken the wood.

Does Vinegar Dissolve Paint?

Vinegar does not dissolve paint but it softens dried paint enough to scrape off surfaces. It is an acidic product, and that is why it works effectively for paint removal.

Vinegar at room temperature is not strong enough to have a lasting impact on paint. It will only degloss the paint, so it may take even longer if you try to use it as a paint stripper. Because of this, we highly recommend heating the vinegar to make it more effective. But how does it do that?

Applying some heat to vinegar will concentrate the acetic acid and strengthen its corrosive power, making it ideal for softening paint.

Furthermore, it is best to use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar for stripping paint. The reason is that white vinegar is 5% more acidic, making it stronger hence more effective.

What Is the Best Way to Remove Old Paint from Wood?

The best way to remove old paint from wood is by using paint strippers. Don’t misunderstand me; there are many methods of removing old paint from wooden surfaces but using paint strippers requires less energy than the rest. Additionally, paint stripping products are less harsh on wood, especially when working on intricately carved surfaces, because they reduce the risk of sanding down some of the carved details.

Choosing the right paint remover for wood depends on the type of paint used to coat the surface and the condition of the wood underneath. It also depends on how you intend to treat the wood after stripping the old paint.

There are two types of paint strippers; solvent-based and caustic paint strippers.

  • Solvent-based paint strippers weaken the bond between the paint and the wooden surface, making it easy to scrape off. They provide a clean finish without damaging or staining the wood, making them ideal for when you want to maintain the surface’s natural look after stripping old paint.

On the downside, solvent-based paint removers are only effective on thin layers of paint, and they tend to be costly.

  • Caustic paint strippers work a little differently from solvent-based products. They break down the chemicals in the paint, making it easy to remove from the wood.

The active ingredient in caustic paint removers is usually sodium hydroxide which gives them very high pH levels. They are ideal for removing oil-based paints because the Sodium Hydroxide will react to the oily components in the paint and start breaking it down.

However, it would help to be extra careful when working with caustic paint removers because they can cause skin burns. They also attract moisture; hence they can make the wood damp.

Furthermore, caustic alkalis can damage the cellulosic fibers of wood, causing the wood to turn black. So, I recommend using these products only if you intend to repaint the surface after stripping old paint.

Will Baking Soda and Vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?

Individually, baking soda and vinegar are excellent non-toxic products for removing old paint from wood. They weaken the bond between the paint and the wooden surface, making it easy to scrape the coat off.

However, when you mix the two products, a chemical reaction occurs, forming something different. Baking soda is an alkali, and vinegar is an acid, so they cancel each other out, forming water and carbon dioxide when you mix them. So, using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to strip old paint is like using water to do the job – it will not work.

Alternative Ways to Strip Paint from Wood 

If you dread the thought of using chemical strippers to remove old paint from wood, worry not because there are manual ways to get the job done just as well. These are:

  • Using a heat gun.

Heat guns blast streams of hot air that cause the layers of old paint to bubble and come off wooden surfaces. This method is quicker and cleaner than chemical paint removers; however, the high heat can create harmful fumes from the paint or scorch your wood surface. 

Always keep a metal tray nearby when stripping old paint with a heat gun. Doing this will give you a safe place to put the gun down when you are not using it. This way, you will not burn anything around the workspace. Also, wear proper safety gear such as gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator mask to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

To strip paint with this method:

  • Turn on the heat gun and once it heats up, hold it at least two inches away from the painted surface.
  • Move the gun from side to side across a small area until the paint starts to form creases. Don’t hold the gun in one place for too long to prevent the paint from smoking or your wood from burning.
  • After the paint loosens up, scrape it off using light pressure to avoid burrowing out the wood below. Try heating the paint with one hand and scraping with your other hand to develop a natural heating and scraping flow.
  • Reheat and scrape any stubborn areas on the surface. If the wood contains narrow or detailed areas, use a smaller and contoured paint scraper to reach them.
  • Once you’ve removed all the paint, soak a soft cloth in mineral spirits, then use it to wipe the entire surface.

Note: Ensure that you have access to a fire extinguisher to be safe if the wooden surface catches fire as you work.

  • Sanding

Sanders (both manual and automatic) effectively strip old paint, especially from large, flat surfaces. This method produces a lot of dust; hence it isn’t appropriate for indoor use. However, if the surface you want to strip is indoors, make sure that the area is well ventilated and wear protective gear to avoid inhaling the dust.

Furthermore, ensure that the old paint doesn’t contain lead before using a sander to strip it to prevent the release of harmful lead dust into the air.

To remove paint with this method:

  • Start by cleaning the surface with a regular household cleaner or dish soap, then let the wood dry completely.
  • Using coarse 80-grit sandpaper, sand the entire surface in the direction of the grain of the wood. Use minimum pressure while sanding to remove the paint without damaging the surface.
  • Wipe the sanding dust and debris, then start the second round of sanding using medium 150-grit sandpaper. 
  • Repeat the process with fine 220-grit sandpaper to make the wood surface even and smooth.
  • Once all the paint comes off, and the surface is smooth, soak a clean towel in some water, wring out the excess liquid, and then clean the wood.

Does Acetone Remove Paint?

Yes. Acetone is a great solvent that painters use to clean used paint brushes and remove unwanted paint drips. This solvent works effectively to remove wet or dried oil-based paints, acrylic paint, and enamels.

Acetone mixes easily with organic oil paints or acrylics by softening then dissolving them to form a mixture that stays malleable. It dissolves all paints layer after layer from the top, going down towards the painted surface. Because acetone works from the top downwards, the wood surface underneath remains safe from chemical damage.

To clean paint from a brush with acetone:

Start by removing as much paint from the brush as you can with some soap and water. Next, pour acetone into a glass or metal container, making sure it is just enough to dip the paint-covered brush bristles but not too much that it reaches the handle of the brush. You can leave out the soap and water step if the paint has already dried because dried paint is hard to remove with soap. 

If there is a lot of dried paint on the brush, scrub the bristles between your fingers or against the bottom of the container to loosen them, then leave the brush in the acetone for a few hours.

After soaking, remove all the softened paint, then use an old newspaper to absorb the remaining acetone from the brush. Finally, clean the paintbrush with soap and water, shape the bristles then set it down to dry. 

To remove paint drips:

  1. Soak a clean cloth in acetone, then rub the paint drip.
  2. Switch to clean sections of the rag as more of the paint comes off, and in a few minutes, the paint will dissolve.
  3. Wash the surface with some soap and warm water to get rid of the acetone.

Remember to wear protective gear when handling acetone. Wear some gloves, a face mask, and safety goggles to protect your skin and eyes from exposure.

Does White Spirit Remove Paint from Wood?

Yes, you can use white spirit to remove paint from any surface, including wood and concrete. White spirit, also known as mineral turpentine or mineral spirits, is a petroleum-based solvent used by painters as a paint thinner.

You can use it to thin out many oil-based paints and polyurethane varnishes but not lacquer or shellac. 

Apart from thinning paint, you can also use white spirit to clean paint brushes and remove paint spills as you work. To remove paint from wood with white spirit, apply the product generously over the surface, then leave it to soak into the paint for a few hours(not longer than eight hours.). If the area has thick paint, leave the white spirit to soak into the coat overnight.

After soaking, scrub the affected area lightly with a wire brush, then use a paint scraper to remove any residual paint. Finally, wash out the area thoroughly with clean water, then let it dry completely.

How Do You Remove Oil-Based Paint from Wood?

Step 1: Protect yourself and prepare your work area

  • Wear a pair of latex gloves, coveralls, and protective goggles to avoid exposing your eyes and skin to harmful chemicals.
  • Next, tape off or cover any surface that you don’t want to expose to stripping chemicals before you begin.

Step 2: Make sure that the wood is worth exposing.

Try a few tests on the wood to ensure that the work you do will be worth the time and effort. Rot would be the most common problem with wood, especially if you had not maintained the surface properly. 

Dry rot ruins wood fast because it spreads more rapidly. You can know if the surface has dry rot when you notice spore dust on the wood, budding fungus or if you feel a damp, musty scent coming from the wood.

If your surface is in an area with a lot of moisture, it may have wet rot. To test for wet rot, poke some areas on the wood. If it feels spongy, then the wood may contain wet rot.

Apart from rot, signs of shrinkage or warping are also an indication of problems with the wood.

If you notice that the wood underneath may be too damaged to strip, it is best to replace it to avoid problems in the future.

Step 3: Check if the oil-based paint contains lead.

If the surface you want to strip was painted before 1978, there is a high chance that the paint used contained lead. Dust from lead is toxic, so if you disturb and release it into the atmosphere, it can cause lead poisoning. 

There are some home-test kits that you can use to check for the presence of lead in paint; however, these kits are not 100% accurate all the time. I recommend asking for the help of a professional if you suspect that the paint you are about to strip has lead.

Step 4: Remove protruding nails, screws, etc.

Remove all decorative or connecting hardware from the wood or use protective tape to cover any non-removable parts that aren’t wood.

Step 5: Apply paint stripper.

  • Shake the can of paint stripper well, then open it and pour the contents into a shallow container.
  • Using a paintbrush, spread a generous coat of chemical paint stripper to the wood concentrating on small sections at a time. Make sure that you apply the product on all crevices on the wood to ensure that all the paint comes off. 
  • Allow the product to stay on the wooden surface for the time suggested by the manufacturer to ensure its effectiveness.

Step 6: Scrape off the paint

  • Once the oil-based paint is soft and pliable, use a scraping tool to scrub it off the surface. Make sure that you use minimal pressure as you scrape to avoid damaging the wood underneath. 
  • Use a toothpick or a small angled scraping tool to remove paint from hard-to-reach areas on the wood, then discard the paint in a waste unit specially designed for paint disposal.
  • If some paint remains stuck on the wood after the first try, apply another coat of the paint stripper, then repeat this step.

Step 7: Clean the wood.

Once all the paint comes off, use a clean damp towel to wipe any excess paint and paint stripper off the wood.

You can now apply a clear finish to your newly stripped wood.

How Do You Remove Paint Marks from Wood?

Fresh Latex Paint marks

You can remove a spot of latex paint that is still wet by wiping it up with a soft rag soaked in water.

  • First, soak a clean rag in warm water and then wash out the excess to prevent water from dripping over unaffected areas.
  • Gently wipe off the paint marks. If the paint mark is large, you may need to rinse the rag and resoak it several times to get all the paint off.
  • When all the paint comes off, use a separate dry rag to dry the wood.

If the warm water doesn’t work on the latex paint marks, you can use denatured alcohol instead. Dampen a clean rag with the denatured alcohol, then use it to wipe off the paint marks. Rinse the rag in warm water, resoak it with the alcohol, and repeat as needed. When you finish removing the paint, use a clean, dry rag to clean the spot. 

Fresh oil-based paint marks

Unlike latex paints, oil-based paint will still cling to the wooden surface if you use plain warm water to remove it. Instead, use mineral spirits to get rid of the paint marks.

  • First, pour some mineral spirits into a small container, then dip a soft clean cloth into it. Don’t soak the whole cloth into the product. Instead, only soak the area of the rag that will come into contact with the paint marks.
  • Gently wipe off the paint. If some paint remains on the surface, soak another clean area of the cloth in the mineral spirits, then scrub off the paint. Repeat this process as needed.
  • When finished, dry the area with a separate dry towel.

Dried oil-based paint marks

If the paint marks are already dried, you can use boiled linseed oil to soften and rub them away.

  • Soak a clean cloth in some boiled linseed oil.
  • Press the soaked rag against the dried paint spot, then hold it in place for 60 seconds to let the oil soak properly into the paint.
  • Once the paint is soft enough, use the same linseed oil-soaked rag to wipe it away, then use a separate rag to clean and dry the area.
  • If the paint is still hard to wipe away even after softening it with linseed oil, use a putty knife to carefully scrape beneath the paint and lift it off the wood.

You can also remove the dried paint residue by rubbing it with a paste made from mixing rottenstone with linseed oil.

  • Combine equal parts of boiled linseed oil and rottenstone in a small disposable container, then use a wooden splint to stir the ingredients until they form a thick paste.
  • Scoop some of the paste with a rag and rub off the paint, following the direction of the wood grain.
  • When finished, use a damp rag to wipe off the paste.


The simplest way to rejuvenate the look of old painted wood is to apply a fresh coat of paint. However, before applying the new color, it is important to strip the old paint to give you a fresh and clean surface to paint.

There are several methods you can use to remove old paint from wood. These include chemical strippers and power methods such as heat guns and sanding. However, if you dread the use of chemicals or don’t want to use the energy required for the power methods, you can turn to home remedies that are non-toxic and more affordable.

There are several home remedies that you can use for paint stripping. This article answers the question…

Does vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?

Vinegar aids in paint removal by softening the coat enough to scrape off the wooden surface. Its acidic properties are what make it such an effective home remedy for stripping paint.

However, to make vinegar work efficiently, you must heat it first to concentrate acetic acid and strengthen its corrosive power. Furthermore, we recommend using distilled white vinegar to remove paint from wood. It contains more acid than apple cider vinegar; hence it works more effectively for paint stripping.