How To Use Citristrip To Strip Old Finishes From Furniture

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Most people who enjoy furniture makeovers are looking for a super easy way to strip off old paint finishes, so they can get to the fun part of painting their piece! Let’s talk about How To Use Citristrip to strip off those old finishes easily!

Because frankly I don’t know anyone who enjoys stripping furniture! It is a part of refinishing furniture that most furniture painters dread! But sometimes you fall in love with a piece of furniture that has layers of old stain or paint that must be removed.

If you are new to furniture painting and would like to learn more about the basics & How To Chalk Paint Furniture use this link.

For more info on how to strip furniture read on. . .

How To Use Citristrip To Remove Old Paint Finishes

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While you can certainly pull out your trusty electric sander and get to work, there is another simple solution. Citristrip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel is a super easy way to strip off old paint and varnish finishes. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to give it a try! It really is pretty amazing!

Helpful Blog Posts on How To Chalk Paint Furniture

Once you finish the paint removal with Citristrip, you may need to do a bit more to prepare for painting your project:

And If you’d like to see a few fun painted furniture makeovers:

How To Use Citristrip – Step By Step

Citristrip is an orange paint stripper in gel form that actually smells decent and it is safe to use indoors! No crazy toxic fumes like other paint strippers. And it’s a great option when you don’t want to sand through a bunch of layers and deal with tons of sanding dust!

One cool thing I love about Citristrip is the ease of finding it at your local Home Depot! You can also order Citristrip online from Home Depot here.

Citristrip Easy Paint Stripping Gel To Remove Old Paint and Varnish Finishes
Some people pour the gel from the bottle onto the project and then spread, but you can also use a metal container

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace and Project

First before using Citristrip think safety first. While Citristrip is a safer product than many other paint strippers and fairly odor free, it is still a chemical.

To be super safe, always wear eye protection when working with chemicals in case of splash. Goggles or safety glasses work great. Also wear chemical resistant rubber gloves to protect your skin.

Using Citristrip can be messy! But in my opinion it’s kind of fun to make a mess given that you have prepared your space well to catch any drips!

I love that you can use this paint stripper indoors without worry! You can cover your area under your project with a plastic drop cloth or old newspapers or flattened cardboard box. I used a plastic drop cloth.

Another important tip is to mask off areas of your furniture that you don’t want the stripper to touch with painter’s tape. I had already painted the base of my project and definitely didn’t want it to get messed up.

So, I protected that area with a plastic drop-cloth taped off to expose only the area I wanted stripped, which was basically the top of the hall table.

Step 2: Apply The Citristrip Paint Stripper

Next, you apply the Citristrip to your project. You will want to use an old paintbrush that you won’t mind throwing away. A super cheap synthetic brush or chip brush will work well. The brush will get really gunky so you’ll want to toss it afterwards.

Work the gel into the project with your brush. You’ll want the gel to contact as much of the exposed surface as it can to remove that old finish.

Citristrip orange paint stripping gel applied to a table top.
A nice thick layer of Citristrip Gel over the surface

Step 3: Let The Citristrip Gel Sit And Work Magic

According to the Citristrip product site, leave the product on at least 30 minutes to give the gel time to activate and do its’ job. You will begin to see a gooey, bubbly substance forming on your project where the gel was applied. You will be able to see the paint or varnish separate from the wood underneath

If you have several layers of paint you can let the gel stay on longer than 30 minutes. You can leave it on as long as it remains wet. You just don’t want the paint stripping gel to dry out before it is removed.

Step 4: Next, Begin Scraping Off the Gunky Old Paint Finish

Now comes the fun part! Use a plastic scraper tool, like a plastic putty knife and scrape away the gunk. You don’t want to dig into your project. Instead just run the flat edge of the scraper tool along like you would an ice scraper on a window. As it glides along it will remove the gunk and paint buildup.

This is a fun but messy process! Have some paper towels handy and a bag ready in which to put your trash and all that gooey gunk!

Step 5: Wipe Clean and Remove Additional Rough Patches

Lastly, after you scrape off all the gunk, you’ll want to clean off residue with odorless mineral spirits. There is also a Paint Stripper After Wash made by Klean Strip brand that you can use if desired.

After your project is cleaned allow it ample time to dry. Then you can sand away any remaining rough spots and wipe down to prepare for paint or other new finish.

Citristrip Makes It So Easy To Strip Off Old Finishes

So there you have it! A super easy, although a bit messy, way to strip off old paint finishes! Citristrip really is easy to use and it is so nice to be able to strip an old finish indoors when needed and without worrying about harmful fumes! If you haven’t given Citristrip a try, check it out! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Related Blog Posts on How To Chalk Paint Furniture

  • Five Chalk Paint Tips: Basic tips for the beginner chalk painter in this blog post

Now That You Are Ready To Paint Your Furniture

  • And, for step-by-step help with your first chalk painting project check out this post on How To Chalk Paint

Silk Paint Is A Great All-In-One Paint Product For Your Furniture Painting Project

And if you are looking for a new product to try, check out Dixie Belle’s new Silk Paint. I love Silk Paint and am a fan for sure. It goes on so easy and gives a remarkable finish! And it has built in primer and topcoat!

To learn more about why you will want to try Silk Paint go to the article below:

You can also read more about Silk Paint on the Dixie Belle website at

Here is a photo of the finished table. You can see how nicely the new gel stain went on after the Citristrip removal process.

Chalk Paint Project Planning. Gel Stain
Antique table after the Citristrip and new paint and gel stain applied


  1. Thank you for putting this information online. It’s my first time using it and was wondering about how long to let it sit before scraping.

    1. I hoped to remove old/new potentially multiple layers of paint(latex/oil based??) from an interior (irregular 8′ x 12′)flagstone entry. What immediately appealed to me was it being safe for indoor use. It was supposed to be a relatively easy application and cleanup with extended work time, I was skeptical based upon previous experience with strippers but this product appears to be as advertised. I’ve only thus far done a test area but am excited and motivated to move forward.

      1. I appreciate you checking out my blog post! And I am hopeful that it will work for your needs. I personally have never tried Citristrip or seen it tried on a flagstone, but rather on furniture. But I do think the concept is the same and I don’t see where it could hurt. It does seem to advertise as safe to use indoors but ventilation is still recommended as well as good gloves and eye protection and in case you have a sensitive respiratory system you might want to use a mask. I do wish you the best with your project and would love to know how it turns out for you. I do find it a messy product to work with but I think any paint stripper can be messy. Thanks again and good luck! Abbey

  2. If you need to do a second coat of Citrustrip how long after you do the first scrape do you wait to apply the second coat?

    1. Hi, I am so sorry for my delay in replying! I have been out of town, so I do apologize! Honestly you don’t really have to wait any certain time. Once you have scraped and cleaned it off you could go ahead and apply that second coat right away if you feel a second coat is needed. I hope this helps and again I am sorry for my delayed reply!

  3. Hi this is my first time using Citrustrip and I freaked out because I noticed the blotching reside afterwards like in your pic titled “After the Citrustrip and goo is wiped away”. In fact my table top looks almost identical to yours except it was an existing cherry wood stain. I tried sanding and sanding and sanding (with varying grits). But the blotchyness remained. I even tried a technique to bleach the wood. But nothing worked. I went over the peice with a jet black dye stain, but the blotches STILL show thru. :-(. Curious to know, what did you do end up doing with your peice? Did you stain or paint it? And if you stained (or if you have ever stained after using Citrustrip), what did you do get rid of the blotches? Did you put on a second coat? Sand with a low grit (40)? I’m just so frustrated at this point.

    1. Hi Tonya,
      I’m sorry to hear that you had trouble! I haven’t tried Citristip in a while, but I did read something about them possibly changing their formula. I wonder if that had anything to do with your problem. I did use gel stain on my furniture that I stripped but I used General Finishes Java Gel, a very espresso brown color. I did two coats of Java Gel.
      After you scraped off the stripper did you clean it with anything? You could try odorless mineral spirits scrubbed on with a steel wool. Or you could try the Kleen Strip brand After Wash, which is designed to clean your furniture after you have used a chemical stripper? I hope this helps and I”m so sorry you are having blotches. Do the blotches feel rough like they are remaining paint or stain or do they feel smooth like it’s a discoloration in the wood? That sounds like such a frustrating problem and I wish I could be more helpful! It sounds like you’ve tried everything. I wonder if it could have been something with the Cherry stain? My table tops were an old mahogany dark brownish wood.
      I hope something works to fix your problem! Good luck!

  4. I’ve been trying to refinish my oak dining table. I am now on my fourth attempt & so far have been sanding. However, this last time I just put one coat of Varathane Penetrating Wood Stain on my table & it went steaky (sp?). Will this Citristrip remove this one layer of stain or should I keep sanding. I’m so tired of all the dust everywhere that I’m hoping this might be my answer.

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for reading my blog post! I do think the Citritstrip is worth a try. I know that I also get so tired of sanding dust! The Citristrip is for sure messy and sticky but at least you won’t have to sand. I’d love to know how it turns out!

    1. Hi. Thank you so much for checking out my blog post. Okay, I am not familiar right off with a product alternative in Canada but let me check on that and get back to you. I do recall seeing a friend post about a product she uses in Germany since the Citristrip is also not available there. I appreciate your interest in my blog post and I’ll get back to you on what I find out.

  5. Idiot tenant painted over clear wood finished kitchen cabinets with ugly white latex. I am heartbroken. I will be buying a couple gallons of this and stripping back down to wood, then apply clear coat. I HATE WHITE PAINT.

  6. So I did the first layer peeled perfect now I have a yellow paint underneath. I applied second coat of stripper but 10 hours later nothing but the stripper moved do I need to wait longer

    1. Hi Kristina,
      Thank you for reading my blog. Wow that sound like some very tough paint! I wonder if you tried one of the paint scraper tools if that could help or try a second application of the Citristip? I haven’t run into this problem so I may not be able to offer much help. You could try another application of the Citristrip and put a layer of plastic or Cling Wrap over it and wait a few hours to see if that softens the paint. And then gently scrape off with a paint scraper. I know there are other paint stripping products out there, but I haven’t tried any others so I”m not able to offer much help.
      I wish you luck and please let me know how it turns out!

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