A Quick Trick

Just a quick post today.  I wanted to share a little trick I found from Marian at Miss Mustard Seed (careful if you go to her site you may be there all day).  This, in my view was a miracle worker on some old nightstands I found at a thrift shop.  

I scored two matching nightstands for $20.  Solid wood with dovetail drawers...not particularly my style but they had potential!  It was obvious that they needed refinishing.  I thought for the time being I could just clean them up a bit and do a full on refinish later.

Enter on Center Stage the Vinegar and Oil (not just for salads, people).
Like Marian suggested, I did a mixture of 3/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup vinegar and had some to spare. 
Note: You can use cider vinegar and olive oil...really whatever you have on hand.
Mix together and dip a rag in it and simply wipe....

After...amazing right?!

Here is the finished project a few weeks later.  Still looks great.  I added new hardware (cost $2 each) and seriously within a half of an hour I had completely revived two nightstands.  Time: 30 min  Cost: $24.  Not bad!

Pin It

Jennifer (July 30, 2012 at 9:41 AM)  

That's fabulous!! Thank you SO MUCH for the tip and the before and after photos too. What cute nightstands you have and awesome deal!

Shea (July 30, 2012 at 10:36 AM)  

Love it!! Great job! & looks easy:) I'm all about that!

chris (July 30, 2012 at 1:52 PM)  

The tables look fantastic...and what great finds!

Slipcover Chic (September 21, 2012 at 5:35 PM)  

Wow....thank you for sharing this tip...amazing!

Helene Fulton Jolley (September 26, 2012 at 1:18 PM)  

Miss Mustard Seed's mix says to use "3/4 cup of oil, add 1/4 cup vinegar", which is the opposite of yours. Did yours actually work or is it a typo?
I really need this remedy.

Kacee Garner (September 26, 2012 at 2:42 PM)  

I would be wary of using canola oil (or any plant-based oil) on furniture as over time it can go rancid. Try mineral oil instead as it is much more stable on wood. Great idea though!

Hi, I'm Hannah. (September 26, 2012 at 6:12 PM)  

Oh Helene,

Thanks so much for catching that! Yes it should be the opposite. I will fix that right now! Kacee, It's been on for six months and I've had no problems...it is such a light coating. I also have worked with mineral oil and don't think it would have the same effect.

VolGirl (October 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM)  

Hi. Looking forward to using this tip! However, I am a little confused. I was directed to your post via Pinterest and the states the amounts as 1/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup vinegar then in your blog it states the opposite. I see a few additional posts regarding the amounts and it just doesn't clarify which one is correct. Will you please lay it out for me? Maybe its just too late and I need sleep ;P Thanks in advance.

Hi, I'm Hannah. (October 16, 2012 at 7:49 AM)  

Hi VolGirl,
As I stated in the comment before yours. The changes have been made in the post. If you want to go to the original source the link is at the beginning of the post. Good luck!

NATCHUMACHENKO (October 19, 2012 at 1:17 PM)  

I just tried this on my dining table, and it didn't seem to do much! I used vegetable oil and vinegar. It did make it look nice and polished though :)

jensenfam4 (October 21, 2012 at 6:19 PM)  

can you use vegetable oil instead of canola?

Heather (November 25, 2012 at 9:26 AM)  

@jensanfam4 i used veggie oil and it is basically the same as canola oil. it worked wonders on a desk my mom gave me from her college years. it looks like a totally new desk! thanks

Mommy Anthropologue (November 30, 2012 at 11:33 AM)  

My husband is a wood worker and uses mineral oil to coat and recoat cutting boards that he makes. You have to let it soak in for a long time. It will work for sealing and blurring the appearance of cuts. I did just try the canola oil so we'll see how it compares!

Tammy Gibbs (December 27, 2012 at 10:51 AM)  

Thanks for the idea, we just bought 2 wooden chairs from the salvation army. I was trying to figure out how I was going to make them look better without painting them.

emily sasha (December 27, 2012 at 10:37 PM)  

Thank you! I'm going to check out her site as well. Hopefully it will help me further. Cleaner Jobs

Prerana Pathak (January 2, 2013 at 11:01 AM)  

I just tried this trick on my dresser. How long you have to wait before results?

Yvette (January 4, 2013 at 4:56 AM)  

I'm sitting here with my mouth wide open thinking, "She's forgetting to tell us something." That is amazing! With only oil and vinegar??

Jen and Justin (January 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM)  

Maybe it only works on light wood - on our darker wood it didnt do a darn thing! Bummer, it looked so cool!

Gail L. (January 14, 2013 at 7:25 AM)  

How long will the mixture stay good? I didn't use all of it. It works wonders though. Thanks!!!!

Stephanie (January 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM)  

She did say 3/4 oil 1/4 vinegar...

sherri (January 27, 2013 at 8:05 AM)  

Vegetable oils will smell eventually as they become rancid. I do not think this is a good idea. A reasonable commercial product works much better,and is worth the money spent...Especially on a good piece of furniture.

If you must, use a mineral based oil, not food oil.

Kristin Koehler (January 27, 2013 at 3:33 PM)  

Tried it and all that happened was made my table stinky and oily. The scuffing is still there. I'm thinking yours weren't actually scuffed...but just dirty. And if that's the case, vinegar is an excellent cleanser.

Hi, I'm Hannah. (January 27, 2013 at 7:01 PM)  

Hello Kristin and Sherri,
I'm sorry you haven't had success. My wood doesn't stink or smell rancid and it has been on for close to 8 months now. As mentioned on the post I referred to at the beginning of my post, that I found this recipe on (Miss Mustard Seed), this is a trick used for years now by antique dealers. The wood was definitely scuffed, not dirty as I washed it thoroughly with a vinegar and water mixture. It worked for me and I just thought I'd share! :)

Nancy (January 28, 2013 at 9:13 AM)  

I rarely comment on pins from pinterest .. but this is awesome!

Dianna (February 1, 2013 at 4:40 PM)  

Thank you for this! It made my dresser look sooo much better!

love_to_diy (February 2, 2013 at 9:54 AM)  

Just tried this on an old Pentagon table that was a hand me down...was going to paint it..but tried this instead and lets just say it looks beautiful!!! Thank u for posting!!!

thelittledabbler (February 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM)  

I tried it with distilled white vinegar and canola oil. Didn't work. Just made my table ridiculously sticky. :-(

Hi, I'm Hannah. (February 4, 2013 at 5:34 AM)  

Sticky? I wonder how that could happen? Did you wash it first?

Cindy (February 4, 2013 at 6:04 PM)  

That gave it a whole new life, really amazing! Thanks for the tip.

hobie staten (February 6, 2013 at 10:06 AM)  

wonder if this would work on older hard wood floors

Jenn and Company (February 6, 2013 at 1:30 PM)  

I came across this on Pinterest last week and was eager to try it, as I have a little table in my son's room that we salvaged and it was in rough shape. I tried this today and it looks a million times better! My husband and parents were quite impressed. Thanks for the tip!!

Sherri Hill (February 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM)  

I just tried this on my hutch. It had deep dog scratches on it. I had tried everything on it. This worked I was in shock my children even said wow mom lol thank u for sharing this post

Paula Cruz (February 10, 2013 at 8:43 AM)  

voce s sabe dizer se existe alguma massa que complete algo mais profundo como umas mordidas de cachorro? me diz ai...obrigado.

DeyCakes & Algo Más (February 10, 2013 at 9:00 AM)  

Felicitaciones y gracias por compartir tu secreto
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lsk (February 11, 2013 at 12:03 PM)  

I have to say that I was pretty apprehensive about this working after reading some of the posts. I tried it on our house doors that were badly scratched by dog claws. It is a miracle!! the scratches are gone from the doors. I also tried it on an old dark stained table that the varnished was wearing off. It certainly looks better although some of the "wear" is still apparent. Thanks for sharing this easy treatment. ps I just used canola oil and white vinegar. My doors are now beautiful!!!

Marlu (March 6, 2013 at 9:22 PM)  

Do you use the treatment on a regular basis?

Teresa (March 10, 2013 at 4:09 AM)  

Gonna give it a try before replacing or refinishing some doors and woodwork. Comments here suggest that results are mixed. Still worth a try...just going to mix less, say 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar using tablespoon measure to start...

spusht (March 11, 2013 at 5:01 PM)  

umm, wow. looks as good as new. i'm going to have to try this. had read somewhere recently that rubbing a walnut on furniture scratches or chipped brown furniture also helps. will try both methods.

SpitsFire (March 13, 2013 at 1:38 PM)  

Have some old furniture I love despite the fact that years of kids and animals have taken their toll. I have tried various commercial products to try and cover the scratches and they didn't work as good as this did. It didn't work as well on a dark cherry finish, but that was expected. The addition of a color stain pen did the trick. Its not perfect, but far better than it was.

I don't think you have to worry so much about the possible rancid odor of the oil because vinegar is a natural preservative, to a point.

Bridget (March 24, 2013 at 6:39 AM)  

I literally had a jaw drop moment when I saw the "after" photo! WOW! Now you make me want to go thrift store browsing ;) Thanks, I am going to save your tips and use them later!!

HowDidIGetHere (March 27, 2013 at 7:40 PM)  

I was so excited to try your trick on a worn and scuffed coffee table. Mixed it up and began slathering it on when suddenly my poodle mix doggie showed up and began licking the dressing off the table! Tried to shoo him off but he would not be deterred. Oh well. Got a good laugh out of that one although coffee table still in dire need of help! :)

Madeline Schneider (April 16, 2013 at 1:52 PM)  

Great tip, thank you! I'm just wondering... Will this trick work on rattan as well?

James Aceves (April 17, 2013 at 7:05 PM)  

I have found your site to be a very helpful I just wanted to thank you for this page Please keep up the good work!

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Elita en Suisse (April 21, 2013 at 4:41 AM)  

I had great results with this method, on 4 different types of wood in different states of age. I wiped everything down beforehand, put the mixture on a cotton cloth and applied to the furniture (3 tables & a large bench like a church pew). I let it soak in a bit & then wiped down the furniture again to remove any excess that had not been absorbed. I'm very happy with the results. Thanks for the tip!

cowgal jazzy (April 25, 2013 at 6:02 AM)  

I'm going to try this on my dresser today, it's almost 20 years old and looking rugged like this in lot of places. Ty for idea and so cheap!I'm going to keep this in mind if I happen to come across some antique furniture , I do love old stuff. Jazzy

Rindi Boshoff (April 25, 2013 at 6:06 AM)  

Will it even work on treated wood? I have a beautiful Tamboti dinning set, tables/chairs, the table has scratches - hope ti works!

Marilla Monroe (April 25, 2013 at 7:05 AM)  

I tried it on several surfaces. It worked best on unfinished, dry wood. I have an all wood window seat, bannister and columns in my 1924 home. All of them were very dried out looking. The former owners had an issue with water damage. They look wonderful now. On my dining table that still has a good coat of varnish. It just cleaned and polished it. I used the mix on 2 inlaid wood tables. One was very dry and now looks great. The other has a lot of water stains. It is now clean and shiny. I don't think the water stains can be helped. Next I will go up to a beautiful armoire that my husband scratched. It can only help.

thrifty and green (April 25, 2013 at 8:39 AM)  

When trying to hide scratches, use tea (black, not herbal). Make the tea light for lighter furniture and stronger for darker shades. For really dark shades, I just moisten the tea bag and let it rest on the scratch for a little while. I have also used tea (black and herbals) for a stain for unfinished furniture, and it works beautifully. Plus, it's non-toxic incase your animals chew it.

WitcheeMinx (April 27, 2013 at 3:16 PM)  

Do you think it would work on kitchen cabinets?

Ginger Burch (April 30, 2013 at 10:11 PM)  

Just tried it on my coffee table and it worked great!

toaster (May 3, 2013 at 9:22 AM)  

AMAZING is all I can say! I used this on my banged up bathroom door and closet door and they look new. I'm planning on going around the woodwork on my whole house.

Asheley Woodruff (May 12, 2013 at 12:43 AM)  

Tried it out on a desk I just bought that had been scratched and chewed on by a dog. The scratches are gone and the chewed area doesn't look nearly so terrible. I was so impressed I tried it out on my dining set. It gave my dining set a nice high polished look that has been absent for many years.

Great idea!

Unknown (May 14, 2013 at 7:56 AM)  

Wow, really? We've recently moved and I sure wish our amazing friends who HELPED us move took more precautions. My heirloom Ethan Allen cabinet has huge scratches in it and my chairs have been beat up for years. They are a dark oil...and this will WORK? Way easier solution than calling the company to see if they have a matching stain that I can purchase.

tap byrd (May 30, 2013 at 1:07 PM)  

Thank you so much! I am definitely trying this!I am interested in knowing exactly what the vinegar does for the wood?

c4ab8c98-c967-11e2-ad36-000bcdcb8a73 (May 30, 2013 at 1:31 PM)  

I used this on a kitchen island with a butchers block type wood top. It did improve the look but I had a few heavy water ring stains that it still could not cover up. It does however look 100% better. TY

Leslie Maxwell (May 30, 2013 at 1:58 PM)  

As soon as I saw this I literally ran to the kitchen! I used 3/4 Olive Oil and 1/4 cup ACV for my chest of drawers that has been my Mother's, mine as a kid, then my brother's and sister's and now mine again! I am VERY impressed! It went from looking like a piece of junk to looking like a piece from the furniture showroom, lol! I allowed it to sit for about 30 minutes and then wiped off the extra residue. It's beautiful! Thanks!!

Raelene Harger (May 30, 2013 at 2:21 PM)  

To the people saying that the oil will go rancid: I have been using just straight virgin olive oil on my wood furniture for years now and I've never had a problem with it going rancid. I have never mixed it with vinegar before but I think I will try it next time. For the really tough scuffs and water marks I occasionally have to leave the oil on for a half hour or so and then I use paper towels to rub as much off as I can. It has worked wonders for me on both light and dark woods. I always make sure to rub as much off as I can when I'm done so it only leaves a very thin coat. Plus it makes the furniture look super shiny! :)

Larky (June 3, 2013 at 4:30 AM)  

I found a recipe for restoring furniture in an old South African magazine. They recommended 1/3 boiled linseed oil, i/3 white vinegar and 1/3 alcohol. Give it a good shake and apply it with a soft cloth.I have also used it on new wood, works well.

Stormy Wednesday (June 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM)  

Just tried it. Worked like a charm on dark wood for me. Results were instantaneous. THANK YOU!!!

Libby Rees (June 3, 2013 at 5:39 PM)  

it worked wow thank you wait till i get started on the rest of the furniture!

Jimmy (June 3, 2013 at 5:46 PM)  

Just tried this on my MIL'S cabinets that had been scraped and poorly sanded in an attempt to remove decades of yuck. The sanded areas now look like brand new wood. Never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

David Roper (June 4, 2013 at 4:04 PM)  

Warning to people running out and using this cleaning and magic touchup method. Coin collectors are also tempted to clean their coins to make them NEW looking. When they clean their coins, they become LESS valuable although brighter and newer looking.

By putting oil and vinegar on your wood, it may make them less valuable as well. No coin collector wants a coin that has been cleaned. It's all about the patina and the MONEY$$$.

The Ratcliffe Gang (June 11, 2013 at 12:35 PM)  

Tried it... didn't work. Nope, just got greasy wood. Disappointing.

Kim Hernandez (June 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM)  

Love it! but...Does not work on dark wood:( only light, worked wonders on my kitchen cabinets.

Patricia Coomer (June 20, 2013 at 4:23 AM)  

Wonderful results on both light and dark wood~was so excited about this. Went to bed and got up the next morning after going a little crazy in freshening up a lot of the wood I have in my home. BEWARE ANTS ARE DRAWN TO THIS MIXTURE. I almost died I had no less than 100 ants crawling on my woodwork. My tables seem to be doing fine, but beware of where you use this. Don't use it anywhere around doors or window wood treatments!

Rebecca Grassel (June 20, 2013 at 7:50 AM)  

I used this method on my Dark coffee table. It was very scratched from daily abuse from my kids. Truck races, walker races, Barbies, you name it every scratch has a story. I used 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil and 1/4 Cup white distilled vinegar. It helped darken the scratches but not quite to the level of darkness of the original stain. However the oil really helped add shine and luster to the dry wood! After that I took Old English stained furniture polish in DARK over the scratches and like magic and a few cents of cost later. I had a beautiful restored coffee table. I KNOW the Old English polish wouldn't have done that by itself. This method worked awesome and also cleaned and polished the entire table at the same time! Great method thank you for sharing!

Jill Welch (June 30, 2013 at 11:12 AM)  

This worked wonders on my antique, hand me down (free) dining table. I like a shabby chic look, bu my tabl was very beat-up and the finish was dry/peeled off in places, so I used a table cloth (which I hated). Tried this today & it looks a million times better. Not perfect, bu definetly my kind of shabby chic & no more table cloth. I read the comments after trying, so I'm hoping for no ants, nor a rancid smell (I don't know how canola & vinegar would cause a rancid smell?). And I'm not planning on going on Antiques Road show, so I could care less about collectors worrying about my "cleaned up antiqu table". Thank you thank you thank you! You saved me a bunch of money from having my table restored.

SueF (July 12, 2013 at 3:24 PM)  

I used this on my Mom's 50 y/o - D R Y - wood kitchen cabinets. C.oil&V are put in a SPRAY BOTTLE. And I seriously believe it's better than wood oil. Things also cleaned off nicely. The cabinet above her oven was spattered with something (a cake mishap?) from long time ago. I sprayed it then lightly used a scrubbie. EVERYTHING came off easily, AFter wiping dirty area, I re-applied C.oil&V. So my vote is: EASIER & *better* than wood oil. - - THANK YOU FOR SHARING - -

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TexasBirdGirl (July 29, 2013 at 2:21 PM)  

So, just went in and tried in on some water stained bathroom cabinets---wow!! We are moving and I thought I would have to pay to have them refinished!! I could not be happier!

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Glamma (August 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM)  

WOW! I just tried this on an antique spring type rocker that had been in a building for months. Sadly the building leaks and although I thought I had the chair covered, it still got wet. The finish was gone on part of the wood and it looked dried out not to mention worn from age. This technique works! It looks amazing!!! I wish I had taken before and after pictures. Now, any suggestions on how to clean the dirt mixed with water marks on the upholstery part of the chair?

Kristin (August 16, 2013 at 6:37 AM)  

To the people who said it made your furniture sticky, possibly the vinegar reacted with the old varnish or stain in your furniture. This happened to me with some antique chairs. To get rid of the stickiness, you'll have to wipe down the furniture with vinegar until all the old stain comes off, then you can oil it.

Sue (August 24, 2013 at 2:49 PM)  

Just used this mix on a 100-year old cedar blanket chest...lots of recent digs and scratches from grandson rooming with me for awhile. Scrubbed it clean first, then applied vinegar/oil which I mixed in a very small spray bottle. The wood being quite dry just soaked up the mixture and now it looks great...so very pleased. Thanks much!!

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Ivelina Vaykova (October 10, 2013 at 1:08 AM)  

Hallo! I use for cleaning first some hot beer - does work very good on many kinds of wood without lack-coat. I'm going to try after that the trick above. Thank you!

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Samantha (November 11, 2013 at 10:05 AM)  

Do I have to wipe it down with a wet cloth afterward? Wouldn't it get too oily?

Lillian Ranauro (November 20, 2013 at 9:44 AM)  

Just linked via a pin and I'm so glad I did - this worked wonders! Thanks!!

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Norma Lott (February 7, 2014 at 7:51 AM)  

this probably won't work on wood with polyurethane coatings but will on antique varnish finishes which explains the mixed results here. Varnish was made of organic substances.

"Traditional varnishes are made from natural tree resins such as dammar or mastic (there is a bottle labeled “MASTIC” in The Fox Chase). The resins are mixed with a solvent such as turpentine and applied to the wood. When the solvents evaporate, a thin layer of glossy resin remains on top." There are number of substances that will dissolve the varnish and recoat the product. Tung oil and solvent, turpentine , will also achieve this. Cooking oil and vinegar, a solvent, is used in your project.

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Simone (March 10, 2014 at 6:18 AM)  

I have just tried this on a small part of my floor. It has dried and looks amazing and has a slight smell of vinegar but I am sure that will pass.
Much cheaper than replacing the whole floor but a fair bit of work ahead of me now :-)

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Nancy G (June 4, 2014 at 8:33 PM)  

oil and vinegar don't mix, ioil and water don't mix. simple science if you do this, you will see all the vinegar sitting at the bottom of the measuring cup with the oil on top. you need to add a little bit of glycerin as this will mix the two together and it will work very well.

brendak (June 10, 2014 at 2:26 PM)  

I also tried this on my kitchen cabinets and it made them look almost new and so much better.

Dawn Teach (June 11, 2014 at 2:49 AM)  

Does it repair the scratches? Or just cleans it and shine it up a bit?

Mama D (June 11, 2014 at 10:04 AM)  

Good old-fashioned elbow grease will probably take care of stickiness which is most likely caused by all the products applied in the past. Spray-on polish is especially bad for build-up, and kitchen grease is dreadful. As several readers suggested, just put more of the oil and vinegar mixture on and keep rubbing it off.
I was warned about spray polishes and many commercial products 50 years ago, and my furniture looks great, especially the dining room table which was used every day when our three children were growing up.

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Cecelia Thex (July 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM)  

I really would like a response. On what material it works Since there are mixed reviews.

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0s0-Pa (September 5, 2014 at 12:19 AM)  

Nice trick! Will have to give it a go on my teak outdoor furniture! :)

Carlene H (September 17, 2014 at 10:34 AM)  

I did try this but my table is now a bit sticky...I have wiped it several times with a dry soft cloth....maybe I did something wrong??

Niki Norton (November 1, 2014 at 10:11 PM)  

Did you try this on the floors?

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