Does Vinegar Remove Paint From Wood?

Image of wood ready for paint stripper, but does vinegar remove paint from wood?You must have heard or used vinegar before. It is one of the most versatile compounds that you will likely interact with across many platforms. The versatility of vinegar allows it to be used in homes and even in woodworking projects. So what are its uses in woodworking? Does vinegar remove paint from wood?

Yes, vinegar presents an easy, less expensive, and effective way of removing dried, stuck-on paint from different surfaces such as wooden surfaces. The fascinating thing about vinegar is that it’s economical, friendly to the environment. Above all, it removes stubborn paint with no harmful chemicals or toxic fumes production in the process.

All that the vinegar does when you are using it as a paint stripper is softening the paint. This softening of the wood makes it easy for you to scrape it off without much effort speeding up your job.

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is a liquid with acidic properties, and it is produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. This compound does so many tasks among them in cooking, especially for its flavor as well as chemical properties. Usually, the vinegar can be made from many different base ingredients that contribute to the vinegar’s unique properties. It’sIt’s a common ingredient.

How To Remove Paint From Wood Using Vinegar

If you are restricting your vinegar use to the kitchen, only then you are making a huge mistake. It’s effective at removing paint from surfaces, and here is a procedure of stripping paint off the surface of the wood using vinegar.

Step One

The first thing you should do is heat a small amount of white distilled vinegar in a saucepan. Alternatively, you can choose to heat the vinegar in a microwaveable bowl in a microwave oven.

Step Two

Soak a clean paintbrush or a clean cotton clothing in the hot vinegar. Dab the vinegar on the surface of the dried paint.

Step Three

Allow the vinegar about 10-15 minutes to soften the paint. Repeat this process if the paint is still stuck-on after 10-15 minutes.

Step Four

Using a paint scraper, remove the paint from the surface of the wood. Finally, use a damp clean cloth to remove the vinegar and other traces of paint.

Mistakes to Avoid when Cleaning with Vinegar

Much as you can use vinegar to remove paint from your wooden surfaces, it might not be such a straightforward process, and you might end up making mistakes in the process. Here are some of the mistake that you need to avoid when cleaning with this compound:

  • Polishing of Hardwood Floors

Vinegar is on record for damaging hardwood floor finishes by making them appear drab. If you are looking to clean hardwood floors, you must use cleaners meant for such a purpose or a simple us of water and soap. So avoid using vinegar in the cleaning or polishing of hardwood floors at all costs.

  • Removal of Grease Stains

The acidic nature of vinegar does not allow it to be a good grease remover, so if you are looking to clean your surfaces with greasy spots, use the regular detergents used to clean clothes or utensils.

  • Cleaning of Waxed Surfaces

Vinegar will dissolve the wax; therefore, you should not use it to clean wood wax or any other waxed surface. Even so, vinegar remains a reliable option if you are looking to remove an old wax coat from a given surface. If you intend to clean waxed surfaces, use a cleaning solvent such as Dupli-Color Wax Remover.

  • Scrubbing of Granite or Marble Stoneware 

Vinegar is acidic, and for that reason, a stone can corrode when it comes into contact with this formula. For that reason alone, you should never use vinegar in the cleaning of stone. If you want to clean such a surface, use dish detergent and warm water instead.

  • Cleaning of Sensitive Surfaces of Electronic 

Virtually all the electronics such as smartphones, laptops, tablet screens, televisions, radios, etc. have an oleophobic layer that gets damaged whenever it comes into contact with a compound such as vinegar. Some chemicals do the cleaning of these electronics without inflicting any form of damage. Find out the right one to use if you have such a task at hand. 

  • Removal of Bugs from Plants

Much as vinegar can be a good weed killer, using this compound as a remedy for the removal of bugs from a plant can end up damaging the plants worse, killing the plants entirely. Considering it is acidic, it lowers the soil’s PH value, which can be a bad thing for the health of the plants.

  • Cleaning of Egg Spillages

The acid components of the vinegar react with the egg’s proteins, which results in a coagulated substance. This substance is glue-like and hard to remove from the surface. Therefore, use other means if you are looking to remove a spillage of an egg from your surfaces.

Other Methods of How To Remove Paint From Wood 

There are up to three proven ways that you can use to remove paint from the surfaces of your wooden structures. The methods are:


Sanding remains as one of the reliable methods of removing paints from the surfaces of the wood. However, it is best for small projects unless you have an industrial wood sander to use to remove paint from your floor. 

Even as you sand, you need to be extra careful not to destroy your wood’s surface, ensure that you are using the right sandpaper for your task, and make the whole task easy. Whether you’re sanding using a machine or your hands, I’d recommend that you do it slowly and smoothly until it is ready. 

Hot Air Gun

A hot air gun is another tool that you can use to remove paint from your wood surfaces in no time. IF you are not careful, you might scorch the wood using this tool due to the hot air that it produces. 

Note: You can only use a hot air gun as a paint remover and not remove varnish because varnishes tend to go very gooey, almost glue-like when you heat it.

Chemical Stripping 

This method is arguably the best if you are looking to strip paints off your wooden surface. Chemical stripping comes handy, especially when working with carved wood surfaces that have hard to reach. 

Chemical paint removers will, without a doubt, deliver the best results compared to the other methods. Additionally, you are less likely to hard the surfaces, unlike when you are using a sander. One of the best chemical paint removers that you can use is Dumond Chemicals. 


Paint removal can be crucial, especially if you are looking to apply a new finish to your wooden structures. Much as there are different paint removal methods, vinegar is a readily available formula and presents an easy way of removing paint that you can always use instead of going for other expensive options. 

Does Vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?

At this point, I believe you have your answers that you can use vinegar for paint removal tasks. This compound presents no health risk both to humans and the environment. Above all, it is cheap and readily available, even from your local supermarkets.

Did you find this post helpful? Kindly share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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