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Have you seen the latest craze to take over Instagram? Using oven cleaner on wood furniture to strip off the old finish to reveal the raw wood below? Well I decided to try this method on an old shelf that my Uncle had given me to see if it would work. The shelf had obviously been stained at some point and I wasn’t fond of the color so I figured that I had nothing to lose by trying this experiment.

A five shelf wood shelf with a small drawer sitting on the floor

I started by wiping down all the surfaces with a wet cloth just to remove and dust and debris. I then used a basic oven cleaner that I found at the local grocery store to spray all the surfaces. I tried to do this on a day that it was partially sunny outside so that I didn’t have any of the mess in the house. I sprayed all the surfaces and then let it sit for 30 minutes.

Supplies Needed to Use Oven Cleaner to Makeover A Shelf

  • oven cleaner
  • orbital sander
  • handheld micro-sander
  • multi-tool
  • cordless drill
  • leftover wallpaper
A close up of a blue can of easy off oven cleaner
A close up of white oven cleaner sprayed on a cherry colored wooden shelf

Once it had been sitting for a half hour I realized it needed more time so I sprayed it a little more and let it sit for the remainder of the hour.

After the hour was up I took a brush and some water and started scrubbing all the surfaces and then hosed it down with water. Because it was near dinnertime when I was doing this I just brought the shelf inside to let it dry before doing anything else.

The oven cleaner definitely lightened the wood but there was still a lot of work that needed to be done to achieve the look I wanted.

An above view of a wooden five compartment shelf sitting on cardboard on rocks

I used my orbital sander with a course grit sandpaper to sand all the large areas that I could reach, then used my husbands multi-tool with the sander attachment to sand the inside corners. There were parts of the shelf that neither of these tools could reach so I found this narrow hand sander that worked well to get into the smaller areas like under the towel rod.

A close up of a small handheld sander for reaching small areas

Once everything was sanded I wiped down the entire shelf with a wet rag to remove any loose dust or debris.

I love the look of the bare wood so I decided to leave the wood with the raw look, however I did want to add some color to shelf. I carefully pried off the back of the shelf which was just a piece of particle board. Unfortunately it did not come off easily and cracked and broke. But that ended up being fine because we had a scrap piece of board that would easily replace it.

The back of a wooden shelf that is particle board with staples to attach it
The back of a wooden shelf that shows broken particle board

Before adding this board onto the back however I applied some leftover wallpaper from our laundry room makeover last year so that it would be seen on the back of the little shelves.

An above view of a new piece of particle board waiting to be cut to size
A hand holding a scraper applying wallpaper to particle board
An above view of wallpaper

This shelf is now gracing the wall above our toilet in the bathroom. It’s such a cute little shelf for trinkets and other decor. Now the question you may be asking is whether I would use oven cleaner on any other piece of furniture and my answer is: No. It was an experiment but one that I feel took way too many steps in order to achieve the look I want and the fumes from the oven cleaner are terrible and not great for the environment. So I would recommend using Citri-strip and sanding to strip an old piece of furniture.

A back view of particle board that has been screwed onto the back of a wooden shelf
A view of a wooden shelf

Lastly, I want to share some exciting news! I am one of Google’s paid early testers for their Thank with Google pilot program. This feature is in the experimental stages but it will give you the opportunity to purchase a virtual “sticker” to show your appreciation for the content I create on this website.

There are multiple stickers and price points to choose from and this allows you as a user to show your support for the content you value the most.

The Thank with Google feature can be found on multiple places on my website, including the bottom of each blog post and the right sidebar. If you end up using the Thank with Google feature by purchasing a sticker I would love to know your thoughts on this feature. Thank you for your support!

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3 Comments on Oven Cleaner Shelf Makeover-Did it work?

  1. I would love to know what tools you used, especially the one you used behind the towel rod.

    Where can you find the Citri-strip?

    Thank you for the amazing post. I’m glad you did the experiment. This would have been one that I wouldn’t have tried.

    Thank you,
    Lola

    • Hi Lola,
      Citri-strip can be found at any hardware store, Home Depot, Lowe’s or online through Amazon

      I used a Milwaukee Multi-tool with a sanding head attachment

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