Peg asked: How can I remove the sticky residue from my oak kitchen table? I have a 10-year-old oak table which is used daily. Over time, a sticky residue has developed. I rarely polish this table and usually clean it with warm water and soap. There is an extension for the table which we rarely use and it is now slightly lighter in color and not sticky at all. I have tried straight vinegar, Windex and even Fantastik, but nothing really lasts. Thank you.
Over time, the finishes that are applied to protect and beautify wooden tables can become worn, which leads to a sticky surface and sometimes discoloration. As the wearing down continues, it can reach a state of “gumminess” on the surface of the table that can easily leave scratches and other marks. There are a couple of different applications that work as mild varnish cleaners and can minimize and sometimes remove the sticky residue.
You Will Need:
- White vinegar
- Dishwashing detergent (mild)
- Murphy Oil Soap
- Sponge of soft cloth
Steps to Remove the Sticky Residue:
- By offering a thorough cleaning of the surface, it may be possible to remove some of the worn-out varnish, which will remove the sticky residue. To accomplish this, we will utilize a slightly acidic cleaner (white vinegar).
- Begin by mixing a solution of one part water and one part vinegar.
- Use the solution to wipe down the table completely. Scrub lightly, but avoid applying so much pressure that it leaves scrub marks or streaks on the surface.
- Rinse by wiping down the table with clean water and a clean cloth.
- Allow it to dry completely.
- If no vinegar is available, or a slightly stronger cleaner is desired, repeat the steps above but add a mild dishwashing detergent to the water in place of the vinegar.
- For more serious residue, Murphy Oil Soap is a wood cleaning product that can be safely used on any wooden surface. Dilute it in water for mild cases, or apply it straight to the table for stickier residue.
- Wipe the table with a soft cloth to remove the sticky residue.
- Rinse with clean water and a clean cloth.
- Allow the table to dry completely.
- Once the sticky residue is removed, apply a wood wax that repels water and stains to the surface for protection.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- More caustic varnish cleaners are available at most hardware and home improvement stores. They are often located with the paint and furniture restoration products. Apply the product following the manufacturer’s instructions and when completed, finish with a wood wax for protection.
- If none of the methods above resolve the sticky situation, it may be necessary to refinish the table completely.
- Though wood cleaners are sometimes avoided because of the waxy build-up, they offer a level of protection that is beneficial in protecting the surface and varnish. To keep your tables from becoming sticky and worn, apply a wood cleaner/polisher weekly.
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