How to Remove Old Wax From a Table Top


The rich luster of a well-waxed wood table is both attractive and functional, as the wax layer helps prevent scratches and other damage to the wood. After many years or even months of regular waxing, the buildup may do the opposite though, dulling the surface of the wood and making it appear dirty. Regular water will not remove the wax buildup, and applying fresh wax over the old wax only compounds the problem. With the proper cleansers, the wax easily wipes off and returns the tabletop to its former luster.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloths
  • Gum turpentine
  • Linseed oil
  • Rubber gloves
  • Furniture wax
  • Wipe down the tabletop with a dampened cloth, removing any surface dust or dirt. Wipe the table a second time with a dry cloth, absorbing any remaining moisture.

  • Combine 2 tbsp. of gum turpentine with 4 tbsp. of linseed oil and mix with 1 gallon of hot tap water. Use water that is as hot as you can stand when wearing rubber gloves, advises Utah State University.

  • Wet a soft cloth in the cleaning mixture then wring out the excess moisture so the cloth is damp but not dripping. Wipe down the entire tabletop, rinsing and rewetting the cloth as necessary. Use firm pressure as you wipe.

  • Wipe the table dry with a second cloth. Examine the dried surface for any remaining dull areas that indicate remaining wax buildup and wipe these areas a second time with the turpentine mixture.

  • Apply a coat of linseed oil or polish with your preferred furniture wax.

Tips & Warnings

  • If only a small area has wax buildup, moisten a cloth in mineral spirits and wipe it clean instead of removing the wax from the entire tabletop.
  • Do not get the turpentine mixture onto areas of the wood that are held together with wood glue. The hot water can loosen the glue.

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  • Photo Credit Round Table image by Michael Costable from
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