Furniture Polish, Cleaner & Varnish Remover

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Jar & SpoonThis page is packed with recipes and tips for caring for wood furniture…just a few ingredients required!

First, here are a few different mixes you can try for making beeswax polish…

Tips:

  • Use wide mouth jars or containers for storage so you can get your hand in easily.
  • Apply finished product to wood pieces with a coarse cloth and buff.
  • While melting the wax, do not leave stove unattended.
  • The solvents are flammable, do not add them while wax is heating on the stove.
  • Look for odorless turpentine or mineral spirits if the smell is too strong for you. They’re more expensive, but turn out an equally nice product.
  • Ingredients can be adjusted slightly for personal preference, if you desire a thicker product, just add more beeswax or carnauba. If a paste is too hard, add more solvent.

2 1/2 cups Turpentine
4 oz Beeswax
2 TBS Carnauba Wax

  • Melt the wax in a double boiler then remove from heat.
  • Add the turpentine and stir well with a wooden spoon. Pour into jars, seal and allow to cool before use.

Another one…

2 Pints Turpentine
1 Pint Linseed Oil
5 oz Beeswax
1 TBS Carnauba Wax

  • Melt wax in a double boiler and remove from heat. Add linseed oil, stir well. Add turpentine, stir well. Pour into jars, seal.

#3 – Paste

50/50 Beeswax and Turpentine

  • Melt beeswax first then remove from heat and add the turpentine.

#4 – Paste

Beeswax
Paraffin
2 Wide Mouth Mason Jars
Mineral Spirits or Turpentine

  • Grate beeswax and fill one jar 3/4 full. Grate Paraffin and add until jar is nearly full (about 2″ from top). Empty the grated wax in a double boiler and melt.
  • Remove from heat then add an equal amount of mineral spirits or turpentine (nearly a jar full)*. Stir to mix then pour into the two glass jars, dividing evenly. Seal tightly and allow to cool before using.
  • *For a less firmer paste, use a full jar of solvent instead of a nearly full jar. For a firmer paste, add some carnauba to be melted together with the beeswax and paraffin in the first step (no more than 20%).

Here’s a homemade varnish remover…

Part 1:

1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water (cold)

Part 2:

4 cups water (hot)
3/4 cup baking soda
1/2 cup household ammonia
1 TBS vinegar

Notes:

  • Mix in a pail or container that is heat resistant since you’ll be using it to hold the hot water.
  • First bring water to a boil, remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before mixing. Make sure to boil enough to provide 4 full cups of hot water, add two cups first–mix–then add the other 2 cups and mix.

Directions:

  • In a bowl, mix the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of cold water together, dump in the pail. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix everything very well.
  • Wearing rubber gloves, generously apply the hot mixture with a paint brush to the area you wish to strip. If it’s a large area or project you’re working with and the mix temperature is no longer hot, reheat. The job is a lot easier and the mix works best when hot.
  • Allow it to set and work a bit then once the varnish starts lifting, scrub with wet rags (hot).

You can use this on wood items like tables, desks, chests and even ornaments. It can be used regularly / daily and has an antiseptic quality due to the rosemary used.

Please test a small area first to make sure there’s no discoloration.

  • 1/2 cup distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water (or rosemary infused water, see below)
  • 1 tsp liquid dish detergent
  • 1/8 tsp olive oil
  • 6 drops rosemary essential oil (don’t add if you’re using the infusion)

Directions:

  • Using full strength, dip a sponge or cloth in the mix, squeeze out excess, and wash wood.

Infusion Method:

You could substitute the water and rosemary essential oil with a rosemary infusion, just use 1/2 cup of the infusion in the cleaner instead of the 1/2 cup water and 6 drops rosemary essential oil:

Infusion Method (taken from this page): Boil a quart of water, turn off heat, add herbal bath bag to water, cover, then steep (let it steep at least 20 minutes for best results). Note: Do not steep the herbs in an aluminum pot.

Store in an airtight container or sealed jar.

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Published: October 23, 2007
Updated: July 11, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
6 Comments to “Furniture Polish, Cleaner & Varnish Remover”
  1. Cheryl Heald says:

    Can I use the beeswax furniture polish on painted wood and leather furniture.

    I can’t seem to find any homemade polishes for leather.

    Thanks

  2. Davine says:

    Can I ask what Carnauba Wax is I have never heard of it ?

  3. Susan says:

    Hello, I have been looking for (and haven’t been able to fine) a beeswax/turpentine furniture polish that has color in it. I found Bruce’s but it’s a very dark black color, much too dark. I found your recipes this morning…thank you! What could I add to have some brown color in the polish? Would wood stain work? This is for craft projects rather than furniture.
    Thank you,
    Susan

    • Virginia says:

      Susan,

      Add a little artists oil paint. You can purchase small tubes of artists oil paint at hobby stores. Burnt Umber or Burnt Siena would give you a nice brown color. Start with a little because it is potent and add until you get a color pleasing to you!


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