I'm looking at a wooden wardrobe, which has... well, seen a lot of punishment. But in this question I'm focusing on how its side was splattered/stained with white material which is either whitewash, or more likely, in-door wall paint.

I started by scrubbing (sort of) gently, with a rag. I then went on to make the rag moist and scrub again. I continued with applying some mild pressure through the rag (mostly to the areas with thick stains). These stages all helped, but a lot of white was still left. I tried scrubbing somewhat harder, and also scrubbing more gently, but with a (non-metallic) scouring pad. That also helped a bit, but I'm really not there yet.

I feel I was already kind of pushing it with the scouring pad, and hurting the varnish. I'm wondering - what should be my next step? I'm guessing some sort of material compound should be able to loosen/disintegrate the white splatter without affecting the wood/varnish much. Am I right? If not, what else should I do?

Here is the wardrobe side's original state:

enter image description here

and here is the current state (possible variations in lighting):

enter image description here

PS - Wondering about the gray swath at the bottom? 1. It's not my doing. 2. Just don't ask, I'm still traumatized by that. Suffice it to say some people should be behind bars for crimes against aesthetics and workmanship.


Looks like wall paint marks from a roller getting too close as the wall was painted, but there's no easy way to know if it is oil based on latex based paint. Either way now that it is dry and old, it's going to take some sort of solvent to remove it and that will also remove whatever finish is there as well.

You really don't have any options that I am aware of to avoid having to refinish it, I would just plan on doing that.

One possible option is to try using some nail polish remover, because it is decidedly mild since it is intended to make contact with skin. That might soften it up enough to make it come off without doing too much damage to the original finish. Try applying it very sparingly with cotton swabs.

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  • 1. Is there a name for the active ingredient(s) in fingernail polish removal? 2. Do I actually go get that at a pharmacy/beauty shop, or do hardware stores carry this thing too? – einpoklum Jul 16 '19 at 18:07
  • nail polish remover is usually just acetone. You can find this at a hardware store. – Sam Jul 16 '19 at 18:14
  • It is acetone, it's just purposely made weaker (i.e. "watered down", albeit not with water) because it is going to contact skin. If you get straight acetone at the hardware store, it will be much stronger and more "virulent" in its attack of the original finish. – JRaef Jul 16 '19 at 19:32
  • I think you'll have to sand it and refinish it. That will give you a chance to make the wood beautiful again and maybe even get rid of the gray stripe at the bottom. I know I'm not supposed to ask... but what is that? It looks like duct tape.... – Greg Nickoloff Aug 16 '19 at 0:01

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