Cleaning Varnished Wood?

Can I use "Old English" on varnish applied on a boat? Will it simply clean the varnish, or will it hurt the finish in any way?

By Chris

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February 19, 20101 found this helpful

I don't know about the "Old English", but my neighbor has a boat with varnished wood, and uses "Murphy's Oil Soap".

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February 16, 2010

I want to clean the wooden interior shutters, blinds, and cabinets that have been exposed to 17 years of grease and a smoke filled home. How do I clean them without damaging the finish? These items have been varnished and could be really nice if they were clean. What can I do ?


By Eileen


Cleaning Varnished Wood

Use Murphy's Oil Soap. Mix 1/2 cup with a gallon of warm water. I used this to clean about 30 years of smoke from my piano. I was absolutely amazed at what came off! I like to use white cleaning cloths, so I can see how much is coming off. (10/27/2009)

By Jean

Cleaning Varnished Wood

Thank you, but I am afraid that it will not take off the grease and grime because Murphy's is not a degreaser. I think I need a degreasing agent and then wash with Murphy's. These shutters actually have dirt growing on them like fur. My poor daughter just moved in the house...ugh. Thanks. (10/27/2009)

By Eileen

Cleaning Varnished Wood

Try vinegar. I clean everything with it. (10/27/2009)

By kathleen williams

Cleaning Varnished Wood

Murphy's Oil Soap will help take grease off. I recently moved into an apartment that was built in 1986. There was so much grime and nasty stuff on the cabinets I had to attack it with something that would not harm the wood finish.

I now have cabinets I can touch without wanting to hurl. You just need to use a bit of elbow grease to get at the tougher grime and use hot instead of warm water. Dry off with a clean towel. (10/27/2009)

By LizO

Cleaning Varnished Wood

Try GoJo and triple 0 steel wool. (10/28/2009)

By dakota

Cleaning Varnished Wood

You don't want to use anything stronger than you have to, so try these suggestions in this order;

A strong batch of Murphy's oil soap with very, very hot water and a you can even use a light duty scruffy pad or sponge. I would not take any chances on this. Use the 3m scotch brite white non scratching one, anything grittier will dull the varnish similar to sanding between coats when varnish is applied. I would not trust the cheap ones to not be too rough. By very, very hot water I use the hottest I can get from my tap and I add 2 quarts of boiling water, put on two pairs of cotton gloves for insulation topped by a pair of rubber gloves. The extreme heat will usually soften the grease enough to remove it. Be sure to dry the wood as you go.

The Murphy's oil soap and scruffy usually does the trick, but if that does not work you can try mineral spirits. Just be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first on each different type of wood surface. If one of these wood surfaces is not varnished or the varnish has worn off, the mineral spirits could darken the wood substantially. The only place I have ever had to resort to this was directly over a stove. Be sure to wipe up any remaining mineral spirits and even give it a quick wash with a regular batch of Murphy's oil soap to remove any you might have missed. Good luck and happy cleaning! (10/28/2009)

By Dawn Simone

Cleaning Varnished Wood

There is a product called Greased Lightning. I guarantee it will clean it, but do not let it sit too long, as it may dull the shine. It is a pump spray and smells and works like oven cleaner. You shouldn't have to scrub. Dollar General sells it; white bottle with yellow and black labeling. (10/28/2009)

By Gloria Hayes

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