DIY paint stripper

Written by lisa east hunter
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DIY paint stripper
Apply homemade paint stripper with a brush. (paint image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

You can speed up any refinishing project by using paint stripper. Although chemical paint strippers available at hardware and home-improvement centres work well, they are noxious and potentially hazardous. Fortunately, you can make your own paint stripper that is safe and will work as well as a chemical product. Everything you need for this homemade paste you'll find at the grocery store.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Washing soda
  • Flour
  • Paintbrush
  • Sponge
  • Paint scraper
  • Stiff-bristled brush

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  1. 1

    Dissolve 230 g (1 scant cup) of washing soda in 237 ml (1 cup) of cold water.

  2. 2

    Measure 83 g (2/3 cup) of flour into a glass or plastic container. Don't use an aluminium container -- washing soda will corrode aluminium. Gradually add enough warm water to make a thick paste. Add the washing soda mixture and mix thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Place the item you plan to refinish on a tarpaulin outdoors. Spread a 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) thick coat of fresh paint stripper on the item with an old paintbrush.

  4. 4

    Allow the paint stripper to soak into the finish for 20 minutes or longer, until the paint or varnish scrapes off easily.

  5. 5

    Rinse off the paint stripper with a hose, scrubbing the wood with a stiff-bristled brush as you rinse. The paint or varnish will come off with the paint stripper.

  6. 6

    Wipe the wood with a damp towel to remove any residue from the surface.

Tips and warnings

  • You might still need to sand the wood before refinishing it. The wood should be completely bare, smooth and dry before you apply paint or stain.
  • Don't use washing soda on oak. The soda will blacken the wood.

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