How to remove sticky furniture polish

A sticky film on your wood furniture is typically either the result of a softened, deteriorated finish or a build-up of waxy furniture polish. A sticky finish will leave your furniture susceptible to dirt, dust and grime. Remove the sticky residue with a furniture polish build-up removal method first. If that doesn't do the job, then try the softened finish removal method.

Cleaning method

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a small container.

Saturate a soft cloth in the mixture. Wring out the excess liquid so the cloth is damp but not soggy.

Rub the furniture with the cloth in a circular motion while applying light pressure. Continue rubbing until the sticky build-up is gone.

Linseed oil method

Pour 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of hot water into a bucket. Add 30 ml (2 tbsp) of turpentine and 60 ml (4 tbsp) of boiled linseed oil.

Wear a pair of rubber gloves and submerge a cloth in the mixture. Wring out the excess liquid and rub the furniture in a circular motion until the polish residue is removed.

Buff the furniture dry with a clean cloth.

Softened finish method

Saturate a soft cloth in white spirit and wring out the excess. The cloth should be damp not soggy. Alternatively, use fine-grade steel wool dipped in the white spirit.

Scrub the wood furniture with the cloth or steel wool in a gentle circular motion until all softened finish is gone.

Wipe the furniture dry with a soft cloth. Depending on how much finish has been removed, you may need to strip and refinish the wood.


Make sure you ventilate your work area well.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Small container
  • Soft cloths
  • Bucket
  • Boiled linseed oil
  • Turpentine
  • Rubber gloves
  • White spirit
  • Fine-grade steel wool
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About the Author

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.