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Did you know that stripping paint from wood is never an easy task? The majority of people prefer to remove paint from wood with chemicals, but there are other options available as well. Chemical products can do a great job, but they can be highly toxic to humans and the environment.

If you don’t pay attention on how to use the chemicals, you could end up exposing yourself to potentially harmful substances. Therefore, keep reading to learn how to remove paint from wood without chemicals!

Remove Paint From Wood

Best Way To Remove Paint From Wood Without Chemicals

  • Heat gun 
  • Sanding
  • Steam paint stripper for wood
  • Soy-Based Gel Paint Removers
  • Citrus-Based Paint Strippers
  • Sodium Hydroxide Method
  • Scrapers & Stripping Pads 
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar

1. How to remove paint from wood with a heat gun?

One of the non-chemical methods of removing paint from wood is to use a heat gun. Check out the video to see how my brother removed paint from a wooden door using a Wagner heat gun.

Chemical paint strippers are not as fast and efficient as this method. So, you get better results with heat gun method than with chemical paint strippers. However, heat guns release toxic fumes and cause damage to your wood. 

Remember that heat guns should not be left unattended, and a metal tray must always be in reach so you can place the heat gun when not in use.   

Plus, you should wear the appropriate safety equipment, including gloves, protective clothing, safety glasses, and a respiratory mask which is specifically designed for hot air guns.

You may also want to secure a fire extinguisher nearby before starting.

TIP: Make sure to carefully and correctly dispose of the acrylic paint water (or any other paint) to prevent any adverse effects on the environment.

Remove paint with heat gun:

  • Heat up the heat gun by turning it on. Keep the heat gun two inches away from the painted surface when it’s ready. Usually, wood and paint tend to expand when heated.
  • Start with a small area and wait until the paint bubbles appear. Don’t work in the same area for too long, so that the wood doesn’t burn or the paint doesn’t smoke. 
  • Heat up thick layers quite a bit, but not enough to actually burn anything out.
  • The loosened paint layers can be gently scraped off with a metal paint scraper or wire brush. You can use gentle pressure to avoid damaging the wood. 
  • If your wood has narrow areas or tight spaces, use a smaller scraper. Repeat the steps above if any paint remains on the wood.
  • Use mineral spirits to soak a soft cloth and remove all paint from the entire surface.

2. Sanding paint off wood

Sanding is best for removing painted surfaces with quality sanders that have a large flat surface. To make sure your paint is not lead-based, always test it first. If the paint is lead based, you need to wear goggles and a respirator for your safety. 

Precautions regarding lead-based paint:

Do not use an electric sander on lead paint. When sanding lead-based paint, sanders create dust, paint chips, and lead dust into the air. 

Sanding Method:

  • Sand the surface after cleaning it with a regular detergent, then let it dry completely.  
  • Pay attention to the wood grain as you sand the whole surface with coarse 80-grit sandpaper.
  • You should apply the least amount of pressure to remove old paint from wood.
  • Sand the entire surface with medium 150-grit sandpaper again, then wipe away the dust before moving on to the next stage.

3. Stripping furniture without chemicals by steaming

Paint can be removed from wood with steam strippers in a simple manner without using chemicals. Removing old paint from wood requires a steamer and a scraper blade. This paint remover only has one downside: It cannot be replaced once the scraper blades become damaged. As an alternative, putty knives can be useful in this situation.  

In addition, steaming paint is the best way to strip paint from wood because it produces little dust and hydrates the paint when steaming. Learn more about the differences between sanding or stripping of wood furniture.

How to remove paint from wood furniture?

Best way to strip paint off wood by using a Steamer 

  • To remove paint from wood furniture, hold the steamer about an inch away from the wood surface for 15 seconds. 
  • Once the paint starts to bubble, scrape it off. In addition, you can use putty knives, wire brushes, and scrapers.
  • Now, warm the next section a little, so you can work on it easily.
  • Sand the surface until it becomes smooth. If you notice dust when sanding, wait a little longer.   
  • Now use fine 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the entire surface, if necessary. Also, you can apply elbow grease to remove any remaining paint.
  • The sanding process should end with a final wipe of the dust.
  • Wash and clean the wood surface with a damp rag.  

4. Stripping paint from wood with eco-friendly paint remover 

A wide variety of natural paint removers is widely available on the market. Paint is stripped with natural paint strippers. For instance, you can use either a soy gel paint stripper or a citrus paint stripper. 

Soy gel paint strippers

It consist of methyl soyate and a soybean oil methyl ester. This bio-based gels are less harmful to the environment than petroleum-based ones. 

This paint thinner contains no ozone-depleting chemicals and is low in volatile organic compounds.

Wood, metal, and concrete can be safely stripped with soy-based paint stripper. For best results, you should apply the product to the wood surface and allow it to rest for a few hours.

As a bonus, soy gel that stays on the paint longer will make the process of paint removal from wood easier. 

Citrus Based Paint Removers

Citrus paint removers derive from plants or fruits that contain citric acid and are able to remove paint really effectively. Some of these products contain chemical additives, while others are organic and biodegradable. You should apply this product to your surface and let it penetrate to the paint. After that, a paint scraper would be used to remove the paint.

Note: Orange-citrus scented paint thinners dissolve paint more slowly than chemical paint removers.

5. How to take paint off wood by using Sodium Hydroxide 

The simplest of all paint removers is sodium hydroxide. This is an old-fashioned option for stubborn stains and glue. When using sodium hydroxide to remove paint, take extra precautions to avoid severe burns.

It is therefore imperative to wear protective gloves while working with them and you should avoid working inside.

You will need two gallons of cold water and one cup of sodium hydroxide along with cornstarch. After that, use a long wooden stick to thoroughly mix these ingredients. After allowing the resulting product to sit for about ten minutes, you can apply it directly on the wooden surface. 

Make sure you remove the paint without damaging the wood beneath with a metal scraper or putty knife. Now, you can use water or vinegar to clean up.

6. How to Strip Paint From Wood? (Scrapers & Stripping Pads)

stripping paint from wood

It is one of the most challenging and time-consuming alternatives for removing paint from wood without chemicals. However, it’s cheap and chemical-free method.

Paint scrapers are typically used when the paint is in poor condition and cannot be restored.

 This process should also be repeated several times to achieve the best results.

In addition, the pads can be used in many ways, such as to remove wallpaper from walls without leaving any marks. 

7. Household Paint Remover for Wood

Can household items remove paint from wood? 

Yes, you can use household items to remove paint from wood. The advantage of using homemade paint removers is that they are cheaper and easier to clean up than branded ones. 

There are home remedies to remove paint from wood without toxic materials such as solvents or thinners.

How to remove paint from wood with vinegar? 

Vinegar is wonderful option for cleaning and deodorizing purposes. Most people ask, Will vinegar remove paint from wood? 

Well, vinegar doesn’t actually remove the paint, but it softens the paint, allowing you to scrape it off faster and easier. 


It is easy to use vinegar just by heating it up on the stove or in the microwave and brushing it over your surface. Test the paint after it sits for a while. 

Step 2

Dip your sponge in vinegar and then apply it to the dried paint.

Step 3

The vinegar will soften the paint after 10 to 15 minutes. Reapply vinegar if necessary.

Step 4

Homemade paint strippers are used to remove loose paint. After that, remove vinegar and paint stains with a damp cloth.

Baking Soda Method (DIY paint stripper)

Baking Soda is a good option to remove paint from decks without chemicals. It can also remove paint from wooden items and hardware, such as doorknobs, handles, etc. 

Add baking soda in boiling water to remove non-toxic paint quickly.

Step 1—Find a Large Pot 

Find a large enough pot to fit the wooden item. Half-fill the pot with water. Also you can use an old pot for this method.

Step 2—Add baking soda

In the pot, add 1/4 cups of baking soda. Make sure not to stir. Just let it settle naturally.

Step 3—Boil the solution 

You can turn on your stove while the pot is on top of it. The water should boil at a moderate temperature—not too hot or too cold. As the mixture boils, prepare an area where the wood will be dried. 

Step 4—Dip the Wood into the Water 

Dip the wooden item in water. When the piece is too large, pour the mixture on the painted areas. To remove the paint, the mixture must be applied to all the sections.

Step 5—Peel off

After dipping the wood in the boiling mixture, allow it to sit there for about twenty minutes until the paint starts to bubble. You will see within a few minutes, paint will peel off.

Run the mixture on the painted surface bit by bit until bubbles appear. 

Step 6: Applying a brush and removing paint with DIY paint remover

Take the wood out of the boiling mixture and allow it to cool.

Brush the wood to remove the paint. You should wipe the wood with a soft dry cloth after removing all paint residue. 

Final Verdict on How To Remove Paint From Wood Without Chemicals?

Combine the methods we described on how to remove paint from wood without chemicals will get you stripping paint faster than you’ve ever done it before. It’s very easy and can be done with just a few household items. You can also use heat guns as an a great alternative to scrubbing away stubborn stains and paint.

At the end, I would like you to suggest that you should choose the method of removing paint from your furniture or concern area based on your requirements. Moreover, do a test before going ahead with any such procedure.

FAQs on stripping paint from wood

Is vinegar effective for removing paint from wood? 

Yes, vinegar is eco-friendly, cost-effective, and safe method when removing stubborn paint without emitting harmful fumes. The vinegar softens the paint from wood so that the wire brush can easily scrape it off. In short, it is the best method to strip furniture without chemicals.

What is the best way to remove dried paint from wood? 

You can remove dried latex paint with a denatured alcohol and clean rag without damaging wood. However, mineral spirits is used to remove oil-based paint spots, but be sure not to soak the wood, as it will damage it. After that clean the area with a cloth and then dry it completely.

How to remove old paint from wood?

Paint from wood can be removed with heat gun, paint strippers, and by sanding method. However, the best way to remove old paint from wood is sanding which can be applied for small projects. Alternatively, you can use an industrial sander to remove varnish and paint from the floor.

Are vinegar and baking soda effective at removing paint ?

Baking soda and vinegar paint remover:

The process can be done on the stovetop with a disposable pan. One quart of water combined with 1/4 cup of baking soda or vinegar can be boiled for 15 minutes until the paint comes off.

Can you use a pressure washer to remove paint from wood?

If you want to remove paint from large flat surfaces, you can use a pressure washer, but it’s not the best option. The pressure washer will remove some paint layers. A pressure washer is an effective method for removing stains and marks from hard surfaces such as metal siding and aluminum roofing. However, it requires a lot of labor and it may not work on newer alkyd paints.

Jennifer Marie-Holapaints writer

Jennifer Marie

Jennifer Marie is a general contractor with over the years of experience in home remodeling, DIY projects, and commercial painting projects. Her experience includes working with paint sprayers, painting tools, and other painting supplies. You can follow her on Facebook.

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