Quick Tip: How To Refresh Wood Surfaces With Mineral Spirits

Walter Green - General Manager
October 20, 2015

Quick Tip: How To Refresh Wood Surfaces With Mineral Spirits

Are there some wood surfaces around your house that are worse for the wear? If you someday plan on completely refinishing your tired furniture or trim, right now you can revitalize your wood surfaces, quickly and easily, simply by using mineral spirits.

As you go about your fall time, 'getting ready for winter' cleaning routine, take a few minutes to inspect the condition of your wood furniture and trim. If any of the finishes are looking dull, murky, and tired, you may choose to refinish your worse-for-wear woodwork at some point in the future, but in the meantime simply applying mineral spirits—otherwise known as paint thinner—goes a long way toward restoring warmth and shine to wooden surfaces.

If you don’t have mineral spirits on hand, just stop by your local hardware store or home center; it's widely available, and also inexpensive. When you’re ready to begin, douse a clean and absorbent cloth in the mineral spirits, then wipe down the wood you want to refresh. As a solvent, mineral spirits work to cut through stubborn grime and buildup from polish, wax, and oils.

Adding more mineral spirits to the cloth as necessary, continue rubbing the wood until the cloth no longer picks up any residue. To access detailed or hard-to-reach areas, try using a toothbrush or a fine steel wool pad. For something even gentler than mineral spirits alone, some restorers cutting the solvent with a mild soap such as Murphy Oil Soap. You can apply the solution by means of a sponge or a paintbrush, before wiping it away with a clean cloth.

Though relatively potent, mineral spirits don't cause any damage to clear wood finishes and are therefore at least worth experimenting with. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results. Be careful not to use a stronger solvent, it might remove the finish altogether.

Make sure there's sufficient ventilation in your work area, so fumes don't become an issue. Bear in mind that mineral spirits are flammable. So once you are finished with the job, be conscious of where you put the cloths used in the process, or in what manner you dispose of them.

When compared to the work and time investment required in stripping and refinishing woodwork, applying mineral spirits is quicker and much, much easier. But of course, even after renewing the finish, you may still feel that the furniture or trim still needs to be refinished, but at least for now you can enjoy a now refreshed and revitalized beauty of your furniture!