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Sticky Kitchen Table Wood Polish Problems

Amanda Flanigan

A buildup of polish or using the wrong polish can turn your once-pristine wood table into a sticky mess. The stickiness will attract dust, dirt and other debris making the wood table appear dull and dingy. To deal with this problem, you must remove the polish buildup from the wood table.

The wrong polish can cause problems on wood furniture.

Vinegar Method

Vinegar will remove the sticky buildup from a wood table without expensive or harsh chemicals. Pour 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water in a plastic container. Saturate a lint-free cloth in the diluted vinegar mixture and wring out the excess liquid. Start at one end of the wood table and begin scrubbing in a circular motion. While scrubbing, apply light pressure and slowly move your way toward the other side of the table. Continue in this manner until you have removed the polish buildup. Once you have removed all traces of the sticky residue, rinse the table with a clean cloth dampened with cool water.

Linseed-Oil-and-Gum-Turpentine Method

For a tough polish remover, use linseed oil spiked with gum turpentine. Pour 4 tbsp. of linseed oil in a pot and bring to a boil under medium heat. Before the oil begins to boil, fill a 5-gallon bucket with 1 gallon of hot water and 2 tbsp. of gum turpentine. With a pair of oven mitts, carefully pour the boiling linseed oil into the bucket and stir with a spoon. Put on a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves and dampen a rag in the mixture. Scrub the polish off the wood table with the saturated rag. While scrubbing, apply light pressure and move from one end of the table to the other. Buff the wood table dry with a lint-free cloth after you have removed the polish.

Mineral-Spirits Method

If the stickiness on the wood table is still present even after you have removed the polish, then the culprit is the finish. A softened finish is typically the result of damage or age and will give the wood table a sticky feel. Removing the finish can get rid of the stickiness, but you may have to strip the table and refinish it if you remove too much of the old finish. Dip a cloth in mineral spirits and scrub the wood table in a gentle circular motion. Alternatively, use a piece of fine #0000 steel wool dipped in mineral spirits. After you have removed the softened finish, wipe the table clean with a cloth dampened in cool water and dry with a towel.


To help prevent polish buildups, use a homemade wood-polish recipe that is safe for all wood types. If the table is varnished wood, fill a spray bottle with 1/2 cup of warm water. Add four to six drops of lemon oil, secure the lid on the spray bottle and gently swirl the bottle to mix the oil and water. Mist a lint-free cloth with the mixture and wipe the table. Buff dry with a clean, soft cloth.

If the wood table is unvarnished, use a mixture of equal parts olive oil and lemon juice. Wipe the table in long, even strokes with a cloth dampened in the mixture.