Hydrate Wood Furniture with Oil and Vinegar

Hydrate Wood Furniture with Oil and Vinegar

I had to post this to share, just because I think this is the coolest thing I have learned from Pinterest ever. I mixed a 1/2 cup of Canola oil, and a 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, and used the mixture to totally transform Double D’s waterfall dresser he has had since he was a child. I can’t believe the final product!

To start, the dresser had some seriously 1970-80s handles on it.  Double D says it had been like that since he could remember, so I’m not sure when the original handles were removed or what they looked like.  I know they weren’t the original handles though, because an extra hole had been drilled to accommodate the shorter handles. I looked for vintage Bakelite handles that I could afford, and never found any.  Finally, in 2012, Double D and I were antiquing with a friend, and he found these handles in the middle of box full of other hardware. They were the right number that the dresser needed, and I got them for $15.00.  Not Bakelite, but still pretty cool with a vintage vibe. Two different dresser handles

Today, I took the retro handles back off, and used a paper towel dipped in the mixture to apply it to the wood.  In this picture you can see where I had already brushed it on, and the very thirsty wood that was waiting.Drawer front with oil and vinegar

Here is another example of the difference.  In the first picture the drawer hadn’t been done yet. applying vinegar and oil mixture to wood

I am going to let the pictures of the sides speak for themselves. Left Side of dresser

Right side of DresserUnfortunately, this experiment isn’t a true victory.  The top of the dresser was very bad, and while the mixture did help a bit, it didn’t take all of the water damage out. It looks like I will have to sand it and re-stain it. The bad thing is that the top has a thin veneer on it, and that might need to be replaced if the sanding isn’t able to go deep enough. Top of dresser

However, let’s view the front of the dresser’s before and after picture to really see what a beauty his dresser is now. We’ll ignore the top. Oil and vinegar treatment for waterfall dresser

Wow!  What a difference. I love how the color has changed, and the grain of the wood is more noticeable. Does she need some work? Could she benefit from being sanded all over, and stained?  Does her top need the help of a professional? Yep, yep, and probably.  But for now, I’m pretty happy with the difference.

Thanks for looking!


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10 responses »

  1. Wow! This is a fabulous difference, so glad to learn of this. If your house is as dry as ours, I probably need to use this method on every piece of furniture we have! Thanks for sharing, Vicki in Louisville Ky.

    • Thanks, Vicki! If you Google this, there are a lot of different websites/blogs that talk about it. I didn’t realize that until after I had already done it:) There are some pretty amazing things we can do with household items! Thanks for looking.

  2. Well, who knew? I have this old buffet that has needed something forever. I bet that would work on it, too. D’s dresser looks nice. I bet he is happy. How does it feel? I was wondering if the oil made it sticky to the touch.

    • I think that buffet would look splendid with a little bit of love. I’ll have to come up and do that. As for how does it feel, it really does soak into the wood, so it feels just like normal. No sticky residue at all.

  3. You can use olive oil or vegetable oil too, and ditch the vinegar. I have used olive oil, because it is fully organic, but it is more expensive than Old English “scratch cover” (comes in light and dark finishes). I used Old English light recently on an old really gross looking desk at the office where I work when I got moved. The desk is real wood but was so beat up and sun-dried from years of neglect. After giving it a good cleaning with Mrs. Murphy’s oil soap dissolved in lots of water, I applied the Old English with a sponge brush. I also used Guardsman touch-up pens to conceal/color in deeper scratches. The results were amazing! I have applied more Old English once a week with the sponge brush and the wood considers to suck in the oil over night. It was very dry!

    The vinegar is just to clean the piece initially, but since you’ve already done that, you do not need to add any acid to the wood! What that wood needs is lots of love and attention. Please do NOT sand the top of that dresser. I know there are several different methods that people have tried for removing old water marks on wood because I’ve read about them on the internet. I have an old dresser that suffered water marks on top too, some from plants that were parked there for years that overflowed when I watered them – oops. Try doing a search online for “removing water marks from wood”. I know at least a couple of different methods involve using a dry iron and soft cloths. I didn’t need to do that to make mine much less noticeable.

    I have also read about using ground up wood ashes or ground pumice stone, added to water to make a thick paste that is then worked into the water marks and left to sit overnight before being gently wiped away and then polish the furniture. I didn’t have ashes, but I did have toothpaste, which I have also read can work, but it takes a lot of elbow grease over time. The toothpaste, gently rubbed in with fingers over and over again has done wonders for restoring a “ringless” finish.

    If all else fails, before sanding and risking damaging forever the fragile, thin veneer, try a furniture restorer or furniture finish refresher. I believe Minxax makes such a product, and there are probably others, as well. They liquify the finish and redistribute it over the area to be “refinished” without raising the wood grain too much, and then they re-solidify. You don’t have to sand or restain.

    Good luck. It is a BEAUTIFUL Art Deco dresser and deserves not to have its veneer or original finish wiped away. With that goes all the antique value, as you know. Hold on to this piece and don’t paint it or “restore” it too much, it is definitely an heirloom.

    Good luck in your quest, I’ll be rooting for you.

    • Hi Jan. Thanks for you your comment. I have tried the wood ash idea, and it just seemed to make it darker. I haven’t heard of the toothpaste or the iron, so I will check up on those. I would love the top to look pretty again, without us using items to cover it up:)
      I believe I will try those two ideas before using the Minwax one. I’d like to get the dark blob back to the original color before that.
      Again, thank for the expertise, and ideas!

      • Hi Sarah, I wanted to check to see if you have done anything more on trying to remove the water ring damage from the top of the beautiful waterfall dresser, and how the oil and vinegar coating you put on it held up. Did it soak in and did you need to reapply? By the way, I don’t think I ever mentioned in my first post that the Art Deco style handles you found as replacements for the replacements are just perfect for the style and proportions of the piece! I’ll check back again.

      • Hi Jan,
        I haven’t done anything to the top. We just piled everything back on it to hide the marks:) Also, I haven’t done a second application of the oil yet, but I was noticing just last night that the drawers could use some TLC. I’ll probably do that this weekend. I was so happy the first time around with how it turned out and how lovely the color was that I want to keep the dresser in top condition.
        I’m glad you like the handles too! I knew they would be perfect when I saw them:) thanks for checking back!

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