How to Remove Sticky Varnish from Wood : 4 Easy Methods

How to Remove Sticky Varnish from Wood

There is nothing worse than the feeling of your fingers sticking to a freshly varnished surface. If you’ve ever tried to strip varnish from wood, you know how stubborn it can be.

However, a sticky surface is often the result of dirt and grime accumulating, especially if it is frequently touched, such as a handrail. Thus, you need to learn how to remove sticky varnish from wood.

If the varnish has been applied properly and with care, various ways can clean sticky varnish from hardwood without damaging it.

The following article will show you How to remove sticky varnish easily from hardwood with inexpensive materials readily available around the house.

What is Sticky Varnish on Wood Furniture?

What Is Sticky Varnish On Wood Furniture

Varnish is a furniture polish that is often used to protect the hardwood from scratches and water damage. It can also make the furniture look shiny and polished.

Sticky worn-out varnish on wooden furniture polish is a common problem, and it can be frustrating to try to remove. In some cases, the varnish may be so old and dried out that it’s challenging to get off.

However, there are a few methods that can help. Therefore, let’s discuss how we can remove this stubborn sticky residue varnish from wood.

Requirements for Removing Sticky Varnish

Requirements For Removing Sticky Varnish

To remove sticky varnish from hardwood, you will need the following supplies:

  • Warm water
  • Vinegar
  • Soft Microfiber Towel
  • Murphy Oil Soap or Murphy Soap
  • Wood Wax
  • Tooth Brush
  • Sandpaper (optional)

How to Remove Sticky Varnish from Wood : 4 Methods

Sticky Varnish Removal Methods

There are several ways to clean sticky residue varnish from hardwood. You can use lukewarm water and white vinegar mixture, Murphy Oil Soap, wood wax, or sandpaper.

Each method has its own set of instructions, so be sure to read the directions carefully before you start.

Method 01: Warm Water and Vinegar

The warm water and vinegar mixture is one of the most popular methods for removing varnish from hardwood. Steps for using this method are as follows:

Step 01: Prepare the Solution

Mix one cup of vinegar with two cups of lukewarm water. If possible, use distilled water instead of regular tap water, as the minerals in tap water can leave residue behind. For more thorough cleaning, you can also use some mild dishwashing detergent.

Step 02: Apply the Solution to Wood

Pour the solution over the area with varnish. Use a toothbrush to scrub any areas of sticky wood varnish until it has ultimately come off.

Step 03: Rubbing Alcohol

After completely removing the worn-out varnish, soak a microfiber towel in some alcohol and rub away any leftover residue. The alcohol can also help remove dirt from the pores of wooden furniture.

Step 04: Rinse and Dry

Rinse the wood furniture with lukewarm water and dry it with a clean microfiber wet towel, removing excess moisture.

Step 05: Repeat if Necessary

If you’re still seeing sticky varnish on the wood after removing it with lukewarm water and vinegar, try using one of the other methods listed below. You may also need to use more elbow grease while scrubbing off the varnish.

Method 02: Murphy Oil Soap Method

Murphy Oil Soap Method

Murphy Oil Soap or Murphy Soap is one of the most effective remedies for removing item varnish from wood, as it’s made with powerful cleansing agents such as orange oil and mineral spirits.

Although any brand of oil soap can be used to clean sticky residue varnish from the wooden surface, some users have reported better results using the “original” formula.

Step 01: Prepare the Solution

Pour a generous amount of Murphy soap on the affected area, and use a soft cleaning brush to work it into the varnish.

Step 02: Scrub the Solution into Wood

Use a toothbrush to scrub varnish. Ensure that all the old varnish is eradicated, or else it will leave behind an unpleasant after-taste when applied to wooden furniture.

Step 03: Rinse the Wood Furniture

Rinse the piece with lukewarm water, making sure to remove all traces of soap. If you’re dealing with an unfinished wood surface, it’s best to use another microfiber towel to dry down the area instead of paper towels.

Step 04: Buff the Furniture

Use a clean microfiber towel or a clean cloth to dry and buff the wood furniture, ensuring that no moisture is left behind. It’s normal for this step to leave behind fine dust particles.

If you’re dealing with an unfinished hardwood surface, then it’s best not to apply any type of wax or sealant at this point.

Method 03: Apply Wood Wax

Wx is another popular way to remove sticky residue varnish from wood furniture polish. It’s a less aggressive method used on both finished and unfinished wood surfaces.

Step 01: Apply the Wax

Apply a liberal amount of wax to the area with the varnish, and let it dry on its own.

Step 02: Rub the Wax into the Wood

Use a soft cloth to rub the wax on the surface. Be sure to apply it in a circular motion, and continue rubbing until all the wax is absorbed.

Step 03: Buff the Furniture

Buff the wood furniture with a clean soft cloth to give it a shine. If you’re dealing with an unfinished hardwood surface, then it’s best to apply another coat of wax and let it dry.

Method 04: Sanding

If the other methods haven’t worked, you may need to sand down the wood furniture or hardwood floors with a fine-grit sandpaper. This is a more aggressive method and can cause some damage to the finish of the wood.

Step 01: Sanding Down the Wood

Sand the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper until all the varnish is removed. Be sure to use a light touch, as too much pressure can damage the surface of the wood.

The sanding should be done in circular motions, and care should be taken not to sand off too much of the material. Never use coarse sandpaper because it can scratch the wood, which will make it even more challenging to remove the sticky residue varnish from the wood surface.

When sanding, it’s best to do small patches at a time so that your work does not affect the rest of the coat of varnish.

Step 02: Apply a New Coat of Varnish

Once all the old varnish has been removed, apply a new coat of varnish to the wood furniture. This will help protect the surface from future damage.

Removing sticky residue varnish from wood can be a tedious task, but using the right methods, it can be done quickly and easily. By following the steps listed above, you can remove all the old varnish and apply a new coat in no time at all.

Reasons for Sticky Residue Varnish on Wood

Reasons for Sticky Residue Varnish on Wood

One of the most common reasons for varnish to get sticky is water damage. However, a layer of varnish dried out can also make surfaces appear sticky even if no moisture has touched them.

A number of factors can contribute to sticky varnish, such as:

  • Use dirty rags with turpentine or mineral spirits to wipe the furniture.
  • Not letting the previous coat dry before adding another one.
  • Leaving old or dried varnish on the wood too long before removing it.
  • Using a coat of varnish that is not designed for outdoor use.
  • Dirt accumulation over time.

Other Reasons for Developing Sticky Varnish

Other Reasons for Developing Sticky Varnish

Varnish can develop a sticky surface because of exposure to large amounts of heat or moisture in some cases. This occurs when the varnish becomes “blooming,” which changes from a clear color to white or opaque.

The varnish has absorbed water from the air, and it may not be possible to return the wood furniture to its original state without applying a new coat of varnish.

A sticky residue varnish is often the result of weather conditions as well. When exposed to large amounts of heat, a varnish that has already dried out can develop a sticky surface after absorbing moisture from the air.

FAQs

The following are frequently asked questions which people are more curious about: 

01. Why is My Varnished Wood Sticky?

One of the most common reasons for varnish to get sticky is water damage. However, a layer of varnish dried out can make surfaces appear sticky even if no moisture has touched them.

02. Is It Recommended to Use a Paper Towel for Removing Sticky Varnish?

No, it is not recommended to use a paper towel to eliminate sticky varnish. Paper towels are generally used to dry surfaces after applying or removing oils. Using paper towels may leave residue on the table if you’re trying to wipe away sticky varnish while it’s still wet.

03. How can I CleanSticky Varnish from Wood with a Light Touch?

Remove the varnish, sanding it down with fine-grit sandpaper until all of it is removed. Be sure to use a light touch when sanding not to damage the wood.

04. What is the Best Way to Remove Sticky Varnish from Wood Furniture?

A solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water is recommended for removing sticky varnish from wood furniture, followed by light sanding with fine-grit sandpaper.

Final Thoughts

When you follow the steps listed above, you can remove all the old varnish and apply a new coat in no time at all. This will help protect the surface from future damage and maintain its quality for years to come.

We hope that reading this article on how to remove sticky varnish from wood was of assistance to you in gaining some knowledge. We hope that the methods outlined above will prove helpful to you.

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