How to Clean Hairspray from a Varnished Wood Door


Janet asked: How do I remove hairspray from a varnished wood door? In my bathroom, where I stand to do my hair in front of the vanity mirror, I have a sliding wood pocket door just behind me. One day I noticed it had whitish spots all over it. I’m sure it’s the overspray from my hairspray. How unsightly! The door is stained and or varnished, but is not a high gloss surface. Any suggestions on how I can remove these spots? I’ve tried a moist cloth and light cleaning solutions such as Spic and Span or Windex on a cloth to no avail. Thanks so much!

The overspray from hairspray leaves a light residue that quickly builds up over time. It is notorious for causing the white spots on bathroom surfaces. Fortunately, hairspray is easy to break down and these spots are easy to remove.  Here’s what you need to do.

You Will Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cloth scouring sponge or pad
  • Mild soap or detergent
  • Water
  • Soft cloths

Steps to Remove the Hairspray:

  1. Wet the sponge or pad with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Apply the alcohol to the hairspray stains with the pad, scrubbing gently. Do not scrub too vigorously or it may damage the finish of the surface underneath.
  3. If the stains do not come up, apply another coat of alcohol and wait a few moments for it to soak into the spots before wiping again.
  4. Repeat as necessary.
  5. Once the residue has been removed, give the surface one final cleaning.
  6. Mix a small amount of mild soap or detergent in a bucket or sink filled with water.
  7. Moisten the soft cloth with the mixture and wipe the surfaces.
  8. Dry immediately with a dry, soft cloth or towel. Do not allow the water to soak into the wood or it can cause warping and damage the surface.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If the rubbing alcohol doesn’t work, you can try a stronger solvent such as Goof Off. Although these stronger solvents should be safe to use on varnished wood, you should always spot test in a hidden area first.
  • Hairspray is water soluble. This means it only requires mild cleaners to break it down. However, there are likely many layers of hairspray that need to be removed. This means it could take several cleanings to remove the residue entirely. Once removed, clean the surface at least weekly to maintain.


  1. Shirley says:

    How do you know if a table has been varnished or shellacked?

  2. Doing this took off the varnish. :(

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