Safe Alternative to Paint Strippers

Working on a restoration project doesn’t need to mean poisoning yourself and the environment. Paint strippers are one of the product categories to top the list of those likely to contain high levels of persistent organochlorine chemicals (POPs) and volatile organic chemicals. Protect yourself by trying this safer alternative for stripping old paint.

The mineral washing soda, found in the laundry section of the supermarket, is an excellent solvent substitute, and it works to strip paint; in fact, washing soda was used in the 19th century for such a purpose. Make a very thick paste of washing soda and water (wear gloves because although washing soda doesn’t give off fumes, it is slightly caustic), and spread with a putty knife on the surface to be stripped. Let it set for several hours, if not overnight, keeping it as moist as possible by misting frequently with water sprayed from a spray bottle. Rinse and peel off the paint.

Caution: Spot test this formula first to make sure the paste doesn’t damage the wood.


K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Catherine B.
Catherine B.7 years ago

What about dangerous lead paint used everywhere before outlawed in US in 1978? Sanding using a good dust mask (not like the cheap one I see here) will keep some dust out of your lungs and stomach but everybody else in your house will get toxic doses. Found eco-strip's heat machine works faster and makes clumps not dust.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B7 years ago

Thanks for the info

Santa C.
Santa C.7 years ago

This is new to my mind. Until this day I would not use this tech. Helps it? In ealyier days my family cleaned the house. When I clean my flat today I wonder what it was necessary inhabiting more than 3 rooms with a family of 4 personas. Did anybody want to know why it was good for? If I was my own father the thing would be to part / share our room probably split with some walls. When I was a child I did not push me anyway I wonder if I deserved it. I guessed it would not stick to the floor for ever. It was ideas of law being applied to others steady than waiting what was (or wasn't) applied to me. The house should be clean most of the time.
Regards, living room furniture

Lois K.
Lois K7 years ago

Kimberly, maybe you could let the washing soda soak in a bit of water for several hours, or overnight, until it dissolves. Maybe the graininess of the soda is keeping it from forming a paste.

Kimberly M.
Kimberly M.7 years ago

Please help, I'm doing something wrong. I tried to make a paste of the Washing soda and water for paint stripping. it did not make a paste and crumbled even as I was trying to apply it. I tried different amounts of water and still no success. I am trying to stripp several layers of paint off of window sills and baseboards. Taking them off the wall is not an option. HELP.

Eliza D.
Past Member 7 years ago

You got very nice tips in here! It cam help a lot in making some junk into good and nice pieces of furniture! Great!

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gerlinde p.
gerlinde p8 years ago

thanks very useful info

Heather B.
Past Member 8 years ago

Great advice; thank you, Annie!