I have an old table that I tried to clean up with Howard's restor-a-finish (walnut, because that's what I had) followed by some feed-and-wax a few months ago. I realized later that something brown is rubbing off the wood. The first clue was that an envelope I left sitting on the table developed some oil stains. I rubbed at it with a bit of cloth and that came up brown. I tried rubbing it off but it just keeps coming. I assume I used too much restore-a-finish when I was cleaning it up?

What's weird is that I no amount of rubbing seems to take it up.

The question now is what to do.

I tried buffing out some of the brown, but it just keeps coming. If I rub a cloth on it picks up a lot of brown, but only with pressure.

I tried letting it sit but months have gone by and it clearly isn't going to just dry.

I tried using Murphy's oil soap and hot water, which definitely took some up, but I still haven't gotten it all up. I could keep changing the hot water and using Murphy's but is there a better way to clean up this mystery oil? Turpentine? Rubbing alcohol? If I use linseed oil on the table, will it seal it or just make everything worse?

  • I would first try mineral spirits, changing the rag frequently. If that doesn't remove enough I would try orange oil with frequent change of rag. Nov 7, 2018 at 0:38
  • just ... pour out some mineral spirits and wipe them up? Or is there more technique?
    – Amanda
    Nov 7, 2018 at 1:21
  • 1
    Be very careful with mineral spirits as it is highly flammable. Do not have any open flames around. Use in a well ventilated area. Minimize breathing the fumes. Use neoprene gloves or equivalent I would pour a small amount of it on the surface and rub with a soft rag. Or pour some mineral spirits on one side of a wadded up soft rag and rub. Nov 7, 2018 at 1:27
  • I have also taken off excess tung oil applied to a teak table. I wiped on orange oil, let it sit briefly, and then scraped lightly and carefully with a single edge razor scraper. But you have to be very careful not to gouge or scratch the wood. A 3" or 4" wide razor scraper is probably best. Nov 7, 2018 at 1:34
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    Yiu softened the finish that was on the table it will need to be stripped and refinished
    – Kris
    Nov 8, 2018 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


I finally gave up. I did use mineral spirits but I also moved the table outside not long after I posted this in 2018. The mineral spirits helped, but it's an outdoor table now. It's starting to warp but it is a long way from being warped enough for the garbage.

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