We have wooden dining chairs whose backs were wrapped in plastic (to protect white tufting) for the past 15 years. We want to remove the plastic now, but the plastic left a sticky residue on the wood. Is there any effective way to clean this residue? The finish is a glossy dark mahogany. Otherwise, we may dump the chairs.

  • @Ecnerwal I've only tried water with a paper towel, but I realize that wouldn't do much. The plastic may be vinyl, and it was pretty stuck & had to be peeled off.
    – Steven
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


Generally one experiments with various cleaning products and escalates when the initial choices fail to work. i.e. neither you nor we know exactly what the residue 15 years of plastic wrapping has left on your chair's finish is, so we start with things that are normal for cleaning and unlikely to damage the finish, then move on to products that are generally "more aggressive" but which also require testing to be sure they don't damage the finish.

  • Furniture polish
  • Spray cleaners
  • Cleaning wipes

Solvents in no particular order (test on a part of the chair that won't show to be sure they don't damage the finish - for instance, alcohol will dissolve shellac, but shellac is rather unlikely unless you have seriously antique chairs.)

  • Denatured alcohol
  • mineral spirits/paint thinner
  • naptha
  • lacquer thinner
  • It would be highly recommended to protect the "white tufting" with some plastic to ensure that none of the cleaners or solvents get on the fabric as they could leave a stain, especially on white. Additionally, just to make it very clear, test the solvents on the bottom of the chair to see if they will remove the finish. If one of them removes the finish, it will be from a hidden spot on the chair and you know to not use that solvent on a visible part of the chair. If it does not remove the finish from the hidden spot, it's safe to try it on the sticky residue.
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 11:45
  • 1
    naptha is also known as lighter fluid (zippo, ronsanol) or goo gone at retail.
    – dandavis
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 12:40
  • I would just add that you should always wear eye protection whenever you work with these chemicals, most of them can cause blindness.
    – user117409
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 12:58
  • I was thinking to try Goo Gone, but was unsure if it's safe for wood. Since the wood is high gloss, I assume it's sealed. I may then try a wood spray cleaner before a solvent like Goo Gone.
    – Steven
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 0:32

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