Can You Use Oven Cleaner To Strip Furniture?

Paint stripping is notoriously time-consuming and labor-intensive, but an essential step in furniture flipping and restoration. Traditional paint strippers contain the ingredient dichloromethane or DCM, which is an incredibly harsh and toxic chemical. Safer and less harsh alternatives like Citristrip are popular among home DIYers, but can take up to 24 hours to lift paint, and even then can require some intensive scraping. So it makes sense that people are in search of anything to make this process easier and less time-consuming.

TikTok is a treasure trove of useful tips and hacks, but it isn't necessarily the most reliable — let us not forget the grout cleaning hack that actually deteriorates grout. So when we saw TikTok DIYers and furniture flippers pull out a can of oven cleaner to strip paint and stains, we had a few questions. Namely, can it work safely and effectively, and if so, should you try it out? 

Does it really work?

Heavy-duty oven cleaner contains Sodium Hydroxide, also known as lye, which is a caustic chemical. Instead, DIYers tend to use fume-free oven cleaners, the active ingredients of which are Monoethanolamine and Diethylene Glycol n-Butyl Ether. It does a tremendous job of eating through burnt-on food and grease, so how about paint, lacquer, and stains? The dozens of videos on social media will show you that with a few coats and some light scrubbing, oven cleaner does in fact eat through stains on wood, but it has a much harder time up against paints. Therefore, if you're working with painted furniture, it's best to stick with traditional paint strippers. 

Essentially, this heavily caustic spray dries wood fibers out, making it easier to separate them from the stain with some light scrubbing. But this method only works on solid wood, not MDF, says Maison de Pax. Additionally, this method should also be avoided when working with glass or metal furniture. Again, reach for the classic paint strippers, and be prepared to put a little elbow grease in. 

Is it safe?

Easy-Off boasts that their fume-free oven clean doesn't require gloves during application and cleaning. But Monoethanolamine and Diethylene Glycol n-Butyl Ether are not exactly hazard-free. If ingested or if it comes into contact with the eyes, these ingredients can cause severe respiratory and vision damage. Additionally, Easy-Off recommends this product for oven spot cleaning, not coating the entire surface in it. Using it as a paint stripper requires a thick layer over the entire furniture piece, which isn't its intended application. So even if you don't need to wear gloves, this isn't a risk-free option. 

However, if you are still determined to try this hack during your next furniture flip, be sure to take caution. Work in a well-ventilated space, preferably outdoors entirely, and take precautions. To prevent ingestion or inhalation, wear a disposable mask that covers your nose and mouth, and goggles to protect your eyes.