Remove Latex Paint Scuffs, Splatters, and Sticky Residue from Finished Wood Furniture

Having been a vintage furniture dealer for over seven years, I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge on how to clean and restore furniture that a lot of average folks might not necessarily know.  I'd love to share a few of my favorite tips with you.  The following is the easiest and best way I have found you can remove paint scuffs and splatters from most finished wood furniture.  

Paint scuffs or splatters are one of the most common types of marks you will come across on furniture.  The leg of a table hits against a wall when it gets moved or bumped, or a painter wasn't the most careful to ensure overspray didn't reach the furniture piece.  In this case, your new best friend that will make your life SUPER easy is a product called Goo Gone (NOT to be confused with Goof Off). 

Goo gone is made specifically to help you remove that pesky sticky residue leftover from stickers or other similar sticky substances.  But, a little known fact about Goo Gone is that it is incredibly effective in removing common indoor latex paint from many types of finished wood furniture WITHOUT damaging the finish.  These two applications make Goo Gone a crucial product in many vintage dealers' repertoire.

For the average person, a very small bottle of Goo Gone will be more than sufficient for your household needs.  If you think you won't be using much of it but would like to have it around with your cleaning products, I'd recommend the 4 oz size, which can be purchased on Amazon via this link: or the 8 oz size, which can be purchased on Amazon here:

If you are a reseller, antiques dealer, or vintage dealer, you had better get a large quantity of this good stuff, because you will find yourself using it.  All. The. Time.  I recommend the 2 pack of spray bottles, each a 12 oz size, which can be purchased on Amazon here:

To check out an array of sizes for the classic, original Goo Gone formula, check out this section on their Amazon store here:

You will first want to ensure that goo gone will indeed NOT damage the finish of the particular piece of furniture on which you intend to use it by TESTING IN AN INCONSPICUOUS AREA.  This could be on the back of the piece of furniture, or on the underside.  Test it anywhere that won't be seen, just as long as you see that it is has the same finish as the rest of the piece.  

For application, keep in mind that you typically don't need much in order to get the job done.  If you just have a few scuffs and paint splatters here and there, you'll want to use a tiny little square of paper towel or toilet paper, and fold it to a size of around 2 fingers (around 1 inch square).  You'll then apply it to the area in question, and rub a little bit WITH the grain of the wood.  Often, you will need to allow the Goo Gone to sit for a short while in order to loosen the paint (or whatever sticky substance you are trying to remove with it).  Sometimes you'll want to use your fingernail to really get at those pesky little bits of the paint that are hiding out deep within the grains of the wood.  You will always want to rub WITH THE GRAIN OF THE WOOD, and not against it.  

If that paint scuff or sticky stuff is extra stubborn, you can use 0000 steel wool to apply the Goo Gone, rubbing with the grain of the wood, in order to get it all loosened up and cleaned off.  It is important to note that steel wool is a lot like sandpaper.  It has different levels or grades of abrasiveness.  0000 marks the least abrasive grade of steel wool.  This is the ONLY grade that may be used on finished wood without scratching it too much so as to damage it.  You can purchase 0000 Steel Wool on Amazon here:

And, as was suggested above, using the steel wool, you must be extra careful to rub with the grain of the wood so that you avoid scuffing your furniture unnecessarily.  In Addition, you should definitely also test application and scrubbing with steel wool in an inconspicuous area, as described above, before you apply to an area of the furniture that will be seen.  

Sometimes, if the paint or sticky residue is really really really stuck on, it requires some extra measures.  In these cases, you'll need to figure out how to soak the offending substance in Goo Gone for a while longer without it evaporating and thus losing effectiveness. 

You'll first take a paper towel and fold it into an appropriate size to fit over the affected area.  Then you'll spray the paper towel (or wet it, depending on whether or not you have the spray bottle) thoroughly.  Lay the soaked cloth over the top of the offending area, and cover with common household kitchen plastic wrap like Saran wrap or the plastic wrap used in furniture moving.  If the shape of the piece allows it, it's great if you can get it wrapped tightly around the soaked paper towel.  If not, you can just lay it over the top and it should prevent enough evaporation to be effective.

Be sure to check on it often in case the prolonged exposure to Goo Gone is too hard on the finish of your piece.  And be careful, if you seal it off too well on a piece of furniture with veneer (and almost all furniture has veneer) it may begin to weaken the glue holding the veneer onto the rest of the furniture.  So be sure you check it often and don't seal it up TOO tightly.  After a period of time, sometimes a few hours, sometimes overnight, use 0000 steel wool and more goo gone and scrub again.  This method should help you to get rid of even the most stubborn sticky substances or paint residue.  

Please be sure to proceed carefully with each step outlined in this article, testing on an inconspicuous area.  Use this information at your own risk, as we'll not be held responsible for damages that occur to your belongings.

Finally, we would love to hear your feedback.  What questions do you have?  What other tips and tricks do you have regarding paint removal on furniture?  What else can we educate you about?  Leave us a comment and let us know what's on your mind!

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