I recently bought a small kitchen trolley from Ikea. The top is treated with linseed oil and the instructions that come with the furniture say to apply more oil after unpacking. I dutifully did this, but I didn't read the instructions carefully enough and applied the oil to the whole piece. The oil didn't seem to soak into the legs and, after checking the Ikea site, I found out that the legs are already coated with an acrylic lacquer. The oil is now a glossy, slightly sticky coating on top of the lacquer. It looks pretty unpleasant and is easily scratched. I'd like to get rid of it.

How I can I remove this? It seems unlikely I'd be able to remove it without damaging the underlying lacquer but if that is possible so much the better. It's possible to scratch it off on small areas but doing this cleanly for the whole piece would be a pain.

From a bit of Googling it seems turpentine would remove it but I haven't yet been able to find this in Switzerland. Would white spirits work?


3 Answers 3


From what I understand, white spirits/mineral spirits should work, but turpentine is maybe better. I also understand that WD-40 will work as well, but I have no first-hand experience using it for removing linseed oil.

Incidentally, I believe turpentine in German is "Terpentin" while "Terpentinersatz" is white spirits.

Both seem to be available here, for examples of products/brands:


Naphtha is my go-to solvent for degreasing tools and auto parts, removing adhesive residue from stickers, etc. I don't recall ever having trouble with it damaging a surface; it's likely not to harm the lacquer. In the USA it is often sold as "VM&P Naphtha" or similar, meaning "varnish makers & painters." I haven't tried cleaning (removing) linseed oil with it but it may be worth considering if it can be found easily.


Another possibility is camp fuel. This is essentially naptha, but is often more easily found. VERY flamable. Use outside.

Once softened to remove the gunk, you can get plastic razor blades from some woodworking stores (used to remove glue excess without hurting wood surface.) A credit card may work. Final residue should come off with fine steel wool. You may have to apply a new coat of lacquer or varnish after.

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