How to lighten furniture with Oven Cleaner, Bleach vs. Sanding

Have you tried the new oven cleaner fad for stripping stain on furniture? I’ve tried several pieces so I want to share my experience with how to lighten furniture with oven cleaner, bleach vs. sanding.

I was very intrigued by the process of using oven cleaner to lighten or strip stain from dark wood.

My first attempt was on a couple of wooden clocks from my clock collection I use for New Year’s decor. The process worked really well and I only used the oven cleaner. No sanding or bleaching. Unfortunately, I got so excited about the process, I forgot to get before pics.

They were both very dark wood, and I did the process about 3 times to get the lightness I wanted.

Here is the after pic of them…..

7 vintage clocks on top of white kitchen hutch

how I lighten my vintage sled with oven cleaner

Next up, I tried a vintage sled I use for Christmas decorating. And the same process of only oven cleaner, and nothing else.

I also did the process about 3 times, on this piece as well.

As you can see, it lightened it quite a bit and removed the red arrow design from the center.

my favorite oven cleaner, bleaching, sanding project

I bought this cute round side table at a thrift store. It sat in my garage for a very long time, then I decided I wanted to use it beside my bathtub, but I wanted it to be a much lighter wood color.

About a year ago, I heard about using a soda blaster to remove paint and stain. So, I decided to make the investment and bought one at Harbor Freight.

It was fairly pricey, plus I had to buy a pretty large air compressor to accomodate it.

In addition, you have to purchase a huge bag of soda for about $40.

Nonetheless, I was super excited when we finally got it all hooked up and it immediately took a dark wood stain down to bare wood.

edge of dark round wood side table being stripped


In about 10 seconds it stopped up. The short version is, that it did that over and over again. It was a nightmare getting it unhooked and unstopped!

At the rate we were going, it would have taken 3 years, and all of my sanity to remove the stain off of 1 little table.

Needless to say, the soda blaster was returned, and I went back to the old fashioned way of stripping furniture.

I’ve had good luck with Citristrip, so that’s what I tried. It worked fairly well, but it’s hard to get into small spaces to strip a furniture piece, and I just gave up.

The table went inside, and sat beside my tub, half done, for a year.

and then…..

Until recently, I decided to try the oven cleaner, since it had worked so well on the clocks and the sled.

So, outside she went again!!

The pic on the left is what the table looked like with Citristrip residue and before I started the oven cleaner process.

I sprayed the entire table with the oven cleaner (right side pic), and let it sit about 15 minutes.

Next, I scrubbed it down with a small stiff scrub brush, then washed it off with my water hose.

This is what the table looked like after I did one coat of oven cleaner.

small round dark wood side table after oven cleaner method stain stripping on concrete driveway

I repeated the process 2 more times.

After it dried completely, I decided I wanted it a bit lighter.

I did a light sanding on the top of the table and any other flat surface, then I did a bleaching method I use occasionally and sprayed a bleach solution all over the table and let it sit until it dried.

And repeated that process again.

small round wood table after furniture stripping process used to lighten wood with oven cleaner, bleaching and sanding

The bleach solution is simply 1 part water to 3 parts bleach in a spray bottle.

I can’t stress enough about wearing gloves and protective eyewear with both methods!!

The oven cleaner and bleach are both toxic, and the oven cleaner stings if it gets on your skin. I have forgotten to wear glasses before and it is painful if it sprays in your face/eyes.

the finished table after using oven cleaner, bleaching and sanding

small round light wood table beside bathtub with basket on bottom shelf and glass cannister of bath salts, candle on silver tray and white pitcher with colorful flowers towel rack on wall behind with 2 white towels and 1 gray towel hanging

I love how it turned out, and although this sounds like a long process, it was really very simple.

The longest part was waiting for it to dry in between the steps of the process.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my process for how to lighten furniture with oven cleaner, bleach vs. sanding.

Have you tried the oven cleaner or bleaching furniture process??


Be sure and Pin It to remember it….

small round light wood table beside bathtub with basket on bottom shelf and glass cannister of bath salts, candle on silver tray and white pitcher with colorful flowers towel rack on wall behind with 2 white towels and 1 gray towel hanging

shop the post

If you enjoyed this post, you might like this drop leaf table makeover.

gray painted drop leaf table with vintage lamp with burlap shade brown ironstone square platter candle round english ivy topiary in brown transferware chamber pot

or this vintage stool makeover……

corner and top view of light gray painted piano stool with french grain sack fabric on top with nail heads


  1. Debbie Esparza says:

    The table turned out lovely!

    1. Thank you! I was really happy with how it turned out! Definitely worth the effort.

  2. Did you add wax to the finish? It looks lovely.

    1. I did one very light coat of clear wax on the top only. I really didn’t want to darken the color any and I was afraid the wax would darken it.

  3. Debra Matcovich says:

    Love the look. Do you think it works on a painted finish.

    1. I’m not really sure. It would be worth a try, but I don’t know if it would eat through paint or not. I did try it on a small side table a few days ago that had a little paint still on it, and it worked pretty well, but the piece was very old and there wasn’t a lot of paint left on it.

    1. Thanks so much! I was really happy with it.

    1. Thank you SO much Christin, and I’m so sorry I just saw this. I have been traveling and then hosting Easter for a large group. I really appreciate the feature!

  4. Wow, that is amazing! I can’t believe the oven cleaner took off that much of the finish! The table looks fabulous! I’m loving the look of light, natural wood! Donna

    1. Thank you! I’m constantly amazed at what the oven cleaner method will do. I am actually working on another piece today.

  5. Penny Adams says:

    What a wonderful idea! The resultin wood color is so earthy and beautiful! I plan to use the oven cleaner on a wooden chair I have had for awhile—but your idea has me excited about removing a greasy stain on my wooden deck. I am an avid “birder,” and suet cakes caused the stain. I am in awe of your boundless creativity! Thank you!

    1. Oh, thanks so much for the kind words! I hope this method works for you!

  6. What kind of oven cleaner? Will any do? What kind of finish did you use to protect the finished table?

    1. I use the Easy Off brand. I have tried a cheaper off-brand before and it will work, but I think the Easy Off is better. And I use a matte finish sealer called General Finishes, Flat Out Flat Topcoat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *