How To Clean Wood Before Painting

In this post we will discuss how to clean bare wood before painting, what cleaner is best to use and how to actually clean old and new wood furniture before painting.

I get asked all of the time, “how do you paint furniture?” Between my sister and friends, I have helped guide so many people to paint their old, drabby wood furniture.

While trying to figure out what color to paint your furniture or even which type of paint to use, I always say that the most important part is actually cleaning the piece of furniture before that very first brush stroke ever goes on!

I’ve written many blog posts about furniture makeovers I’ve done. My projects range from water damaged tables, to dining room hutches to thrift store makeovers.

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First let’s discuss what supplies you will need.

Supplies to clean furniture

  • White Lightning cleaner – this is the best degreaser and cleaner I have found for furniture prep. It easily removes all debris from the piece without a ton of scrubbing or damaging your piece of furniture.
  • Bucket – a bucket big enough to fit your entire hand into and then some so you can ring out the rag
  • Wash rags – any old work wash rag or cloth will work just fine. I suggest two wash rags; one for cleaning and one for wiping down after
  • Water – regular ol’ sink water. I prefer to use warm or hot water because it helps dissolve the White Lightning faster
  • Rubber gloves – this is optional, I do, however, use them often when I’m washing the furniture because most of the time the piece of furniture is pretty gross
How to clean furniture before painting | Gathered In The Kitchen

How to clean furniture before painting

  1. Gather supplies

    White Lightning cleaner, two wash rags, bucket, and water

  2. In a large bucket add White Lightning Cleaner

    Follow the directions on the White Lightning can for how much cleaner you should add depending on how much water you are using. Let the White Lightning fully dissolve for best results

  3. Using a rag, wash the furniture liberally

    Be sure to rinse and ring out your rag multiple times to ensure that you remove all of the debris and grime.

  4. Rinse furniture with clean, warm water

    Dump and rinse out the bucket and fill with warm, clean water. Use a clean rag and wipe down the piece of furniture piece multiple times until all of the residue and cleaner has been removed.

  5. Let dry

    Let the piece of furniture air dry before applying any paint.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to remove old paint before painting furniture?

No! Clean the piece of furniture with White Lightning cleaner. Let dry. Lightly sand using 180-220 grit sandpaper if there is any loose or chipping paint. Paint furniture with your favorite type of paint.

What do I clean furniture with before chalk painting?

The answer is the same regardless of what kind of paint you are going to use. I recommend using White Lightning to clean your furniture before any kind of paint is applied.

Do you have to sand furniture before painting?

The short answer is no. However, you may need to prime your furniture first with a primer before painting. If the paint is loose or chipping, then yes, you would need to sand first before painting. Use a 180-220 grit sandpaper to ensure that the edges are smooth and you will not see any blemishes.

How do I clean bare wood before painting?

Before painting bare wood, clean the wood with White Lightning cleaner or another degreaser product. Mild dish soap, diluted with water also works well. Be sure to rinse your bare wood completely with a clean, wet rag to ensure that all soap residue, etc has been removed.

What is the best paint to paint on wood?

My personal preference is hands down, Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint (or their Silk paint line). This paint is not only super durable, it is very easy to apply and does not require any sanding before painting and does not require a sealer after painting. To me, it’s a win-win!

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how to clean furniture before painting

Check out: Before & After Projects Using Dixie Belle Chalk Paint

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