How to Remove Paint From Wood Without Chemicals

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I was stripping a piece of furniture the other day and wondered, how could I remove paint from wood without chemicals? 

If you’re interested in reducing the chemicals in your home and want to use less chemicals in every day life,  try the tips and tricks below to get started on that new project chemical free. 

how to remove paint from wood without chemicals

How to Remove Paint from Wood Furniture 

Wondering how to remove paint from a door or how to remove paint from that wood trim? 

There are so many ways to get your job done in a safe way without chemicals, let’s go through the highlights, safety precautions, and a few recommended practices for each method.

Paint Removal Precautions

Test for Lead Paint FIRST
Wear a Respirator/Mask
Removing Paint Is Time Consuming
Use Proper Safety Equipment
Keep Area Well Ventilated

How to Remove Paint From Wood Without Chemicals: 11 Ways

  1. Sanding 

  2. Baking Soda 

  3. Vinegar 

  1. Pressure Washer 

  1. Heat Gun 

  1. Wire Brush 

  1. Infrared Devices 

  1. Steam Strippers 

  1. Scrapers 

  1. Soy Gel Paint Removers 

  1. Citrus Based Paint Removers 

remove paint without chemicals

Sanding 

To remove paint from wood without chemicals is to sand the paint off.  You would use a heavy grit sandpaper, and either a sander or some elbow grease and sand that paint right off. 

Sanding creates a ton of dust, so a dust mask made for sanding is necessary.  You’re going to create a big mess too so we recommend doing this outdoors or in your garage/workshop if you’re refinishing a piece of furniture. 

Remember to sand with the grain of your wood and keep moving with the sander or you might create a dip or gouge the wood.   

If you’re sanding walls, definitely keep the area well ventilated and mask off air vents or anything you don’t want covered in dust. 

Sanding is best for smaller projects; the time involved to sand a wall would be huge.  Always test the paint inside your house to make sure it isn’t lead based.  If it is, time to call in the pros, lead dust is toxic to your health. 

Homemade Paint Remover for Wood – How to Make Homemade Paint Remover 

Let’s take a look at our two favorite homemade methods for removing paint from wood and hardware.  

Homemade Paint Remover with Baking Soda 

how to remove paint from wood without chemicals

If you’ve bought an older house, you’ll notice that it was standard to paint over the hardware in the bathroom and kitchen when repainting.  Those knobs and hinges are retro and deserve to be exposed.  

You can remove paint easily from hardware by boiling some water with baking soda and “cooking” your hardware for about 20 mins. 

Metal and paint expand with heat at different rates, so this separates the paint from the hardware with little effort.   

Much faster than using a heat gun or a blow dryer.  Wish I’d known this trick when renovating my older kitchen a few years ago! 

Homemade Paint Remover with Vinegar homemade paint remover vinegar

Vinegar is super useful and does more than clean and deodorize.  You can use vinegar to soften paint. 

While is won’t remove the paint, it does soften it up, making scraping is off much easier and faster.   

Just boil up some vinegar on the stove or in the microwave and apply it to your surface with a brush.  Let it sit for awhile and then test the paint. 

Repeat if necessary until the paint is softened. 

 

How to Make Paint Remover for Metal 

Removing paint from metal without using chemicals is super simple.  Using vinegar, baking soda and hot water, or soaking it in hot soapy water should do the trick. 

You could soak your smaller items in a crock pot filled with hot soapy water ( Source: How Stuff Works)

Removing Paint from Wood with a Pressure Washer 

If you have a BIG project to strip, like the exterior of your house or your deck and fence, consider using a pressure washer.  Prep your area by making sure that water can’t get into your home through the windows or doors. 

Your pressure washer needs to have a PSI rating of at least 2500 to get the job done.  This site recommends at least 3000 PSI and to never use it on hardboard siding as it’s more susceptible to moisture and damage.   

Move with the grain of the wood as you spray your surface.  Once you’re done, remove any remaining paint with one of the methods listed here.  

Get the goods from the quick video below about using a pressure washer to remove paint from wood.

Heat Guns and Paint Removal 

This best selling heat gun comes with a ton of extras including 4 different nozzles. Don’t forget, when removing paint, test if it is lead based first.

If the test is positive for lead, call in the pros for removal.

Your going to need a few things once you’ve tested negative for lead in order to get started.  Other than your heat gun, a pair of heat resistant gloves, paint scraper, an old can (big one to put old paint in) and of course a mask or ventilator.

We’d recommend using a larger nozzle when removing paint; the larger surface area you cover, the faster your paint will be removed.

Of course, be cautious with your heat gun.  Some models will heat up to 1200 F and will burn everything they come in contact with.  Be very careful where you aim it and never leave it in the “on” position and unattended.

We love this video below that shows you how to remove paint from a chair using a popular heat gun. Do what she does and wear your respirator mask and heat resistant gloves!

Wire Brushes to Remove Paint from Wood

A wire brush is awesome for getting into hard to reach places, or into cracks on furniture when removing paint.  It’s labor intensive and requires a ton of elbow grease even if you’re using it with a cordless drill type attachment.

We don’t recommend this method for large projects.  

Infrared Devices 

Infrared devices use heat to remove paint from wood without creating dust.  They heat up the layers of paint but don’t get so hot that they set the wood on fire under the paint. 

Infrared devices are hard to use in tight spaces, just be aware of this limitation.  You must also ensure to protect windows, glass, metal from the infrared.  You would buy one of these Speedheater IR-Systems HERE. 

They aren’t cheap, but many professionals love them. 

Steam Strippers 

Once used in the past, folks began to realize that putting hot steam on wood was warping the surface and making more work or completely ruining furniture.  We wouldn’t recommend this method.

Scrapers paint scraper to remove paint without chemicals

You need to get yourself a Painter’s Tool Scraper if you’re planning on doing any painting DIY.  This multi tool let’s you get into hard to reach places at any angle.  Or you could just grab a basic plastic or metal paint scraper.   

We recommend treating your wood with a natural paint stripper, vinegar, or a heat gun and then scraping.  This will save you time and effort that you can use to work on your next project.  

Environmentally Friendly Paint Removers 

all natural paint removers

It is possible to strip paint and be Eco Friendly.  You can use either a soy based gel paint remover or a citrus based paint remover.  The wipe it on and forget it type of paint stripper that we love. 

Soy Gel Paint Removers

Since this product is non toxic it takes longer to lift paint than a paint stripper.  It doesn’t evaporate once you’ve covered your surface meaning you can leave it on for a long time while it penetrates the paint. 

You can even purchase this in biodegradable.   

Some folks say it works better than regular paint stripper.  We are excited to give it a try on our next project. 

Citrus Based Paint Removers citrus based paint remover

Based on a plant or fruit that contains citric acid, Citrus Paint Removers can apparently removing paint really well.  You apply this product to your surface and allow it to penetrate the paint. 

Read your package though, some of these come with a chemical in them while others are all natural and biodegradable.

You would then scrape off the paint with a paint scraper.   

Conclusion 

Use a combination of the methods we described above to get your DIY on and that paint stripped faster than ever before.

Quick FAQs

What is the best way to remove paint from wood?

We recommend an eco friendly soy gel or citrus paint remover. Otherwise, good old elbow grease works wonders.

What home remedy removes paint from wood?

Sanding, pressure washer, scraping.

Does vinegar remove paint from wood?

No, but it softens the paint so that it’s way easier to scrape or sand off.

Can baking soda remove paint?

Baking soda removes paint from hardware by mixing water and baking soda in boiling water.


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