How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals

As good as cheap veneer furniture is, nothing beats the look, feel and even smell of real wood furniture; there is something about the natural variations of the surface of the wood that mass factory produced items cannot match.

Putting a scratch on your wood furniture can be upsetting, especially if it is something of sentimental value, such as an antique piece. There are different types of scratches, from minor scratches to deep marks.

How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals, Zazzy Home

This article will mainly cover how to get rid of surface-level, small scratches on wood furniture; for more information on how to fix deep scratches, see the latter half of the guide.

Before doing any sanding or refinishing, the first thing you need to do is figure out what type of furniture you have. Most off-the-shelf pieces of pre-finished wood are made from some sort of plywood core with thin sheets of wood glued together around the outside edges for decoration.

Some more expensive solid woods have veneer added to the top layers for extra thickness and durability while keeping costs low; just make sure you have a damp cloth and some elbow grease to hand.

How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals, Zazzy Home

How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals, Zazzy Home

Remove scratches in wood furniture with sandpaper.

Sandpaper is one method for fixing those unsightly scratches in the wood, and it’s an easy process if you follow these steps:

1. Wipe the scratched area clean with a damp lint free cloth and let it dry completely. If there are multiple scratches, be sure to go over them all because they may not all be lined up at exactly the same angle or depth even though they seem that way from the initial inspection.

2. Go over each scratch with progressively finer grades of sandpaper until you reach a smooth finish without any visible lines from the sandpaper. Start with 150-grit sandpaper for deeper scratches, progress to 220-grit sandpaper for shallow ones, and finish with 320- or 400-grit sandpaper for finer scratches. Remember, don’t press too firmly, or you’ll end up damaging the good wood around the scratch as well!

3. Go over the affected area again with a fine sanding block after you’ve finished sanding with fine sandpaper. This will help smoothen any small lines left by the sandpaper that are still visible after several rounds of applying different grades of sandpaper.

4. Vacuum up the dust created by sanding the surface of the wood. Follow this step up by wiping down your entire tabletop once more with a clean damp cloth, making sure there are no traces of dust on it.

5. Apply a thin layer of paste wax to the scratched area with your finger or a clean, soft dry cloth, rubbing it into the wood grain in gentle circular motions. Let the wax dry for one hour before gently wiping off any excess with another lint free cloth or rag, if you are not happy with the results, can you rub a little more in until you get the look you’re seeking.

6. Rub the wax layer of your newly fixed scratched area with a clean rag, making it smooth and shiny again. Consider applying another thin coat of wax to the entire tabletop if you want more protection against liquid spills or moisture damage in general and to make the wood look nice and buffed.

While sandpaper is one way to get rid of scratches on wood furniture, it’s not the only option available to you.

The advantages of using sandpaper to remove scratches

– It’s easy to find sandpaper in most hardware stores and supermarkets.

– Sandpaper is very inexpensive, with a sheet of 120-grit costing only a few dollars.

– There are different grades of sandpaper available depending on how deep the scratches on your tabletop or furniture finish are: 150 grit for deep scratches; 220 grit for shallow scratches; 320 grit for even shallower ones, and 400-grit and finer grades for superfine surface scratches.

The disadvantages of using sandpaper to remove scratches

– It can be time consuming if you have multiple scratches on your wood furniture that need repairing. You’ll have to spend some time going over each scratch carefully until it disappears completely before moving on to the next one. You could even end up spending a few hours or more doing this, depending on how deep and numerous your scratches are.

– It can create fine wood dust particles in your eyes and lungs if you’re not wearing the right gear when sanding. This isn’t good for your respiratory health, so make sure you wear a face mask before you rub to prevent it from getting in your mouth or nose.

– This method is best suited for lighter scratches that are easy to sand away without inflicting any damage on the finish of your furniture or tabletop surface. For deeper gouges that go through into the wood itself, consider using another method like polishing with scratch remover, which will remove scratches without creating too much dust as sandpaper does.

Remove scratches in wood furniture with white vinegar.

If you’re stressed about how to fix unsightly marks on the wood of your beautiful living room tables and coffee tables, then read on because without further ado, here are the steps to removing scratches from wood furniture with vinegar!

1. Start by mixing equal amounts of mayonnaise and olive oil together in a small bowl so that they form a paste. Then, use this mixture as an exfoliator on the scratched furniture by applying a few drops to the scratch, giving a little rub to help it work, but not too hard!

2. Let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe away the excess mixture with a cotton cloth. The oil should help lift any dirt or dust, removing oily marks left by other cleaners. This step may take a while but give the paste time to really work its magic on your tables!

3. Once you’ve wiped away the excess mixture, use another clean, soft cloth to apply vinegar to the affected area where the scratches are still present, wiping it off immediately with a dry cloth afterward. Ensure that you haven’t applied too much vinegar, as this could damage the surface of your table further. Try not to leave it there too long or else risk leaving an unpleasant smell behind!

4. Combining equal parts water and white vinegar(1 cup of each), wash the area where you applied the vinegar. Use a cotton cloth to wipe off this mix, followed by another clean cotton cloth with just water on it to remove any stains leftover from your mayonnaise mixture and other vinegar.

How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals, Zazzy Home

5. Rub car wax onto the wood in a circular motion, covering the scratch marks thoroughly before allowing time for it all to dry. You should notice an improvement right away but allow 24 hours for the wax to fully set into the wooden surface!

6. Finally, use a clean cotton cloth to buff away any excess wax, revealing the fresh new finish underneath!

The advantages of using vinegar to remove scratches in wood furniture

– Vinegar is a natural cleanser, and as such, will not damage the surface of your furniture like some chemical-based cleaners can.

– The acid in the vinegar helps to break down any dirt or grime that may be causing the scratch, making it easier to remove.

– Vinegar also has a slight polishing effect, which will help to bring out the natural shine of your wooden furniture.

The disadvantages of using vinegar to remove scratches in wood furniture

– Vinegar can be corrosive, which means that it can damage the surface of your furniture if it’s left on for too long.

– Vinegar also has a strong smell which can be unpleasant and may linger for some time after the treatment is applied.

– Finally, vinegar is not always 100% effective in removing scratches, so it may take a few attempts before you’re completely satisfied with the results.

How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals, Zazzy Home

How To Remove Scratches From Wood Furniture With Crayons

If your scratch is on a solid wood piece, the fix will be much easier because you won’t have to worry about stripping off layers of the existing finish. However, if it’s a plywood core, you’ll need to find a way to separate the two outer layers from the middle layer to get down to bare wood. This can be done by applying heat from a hairdryer or some other source that won’t damage the surface or any exposed paint. Once it has softened up, use something sharp and flat like an ice pick or putty knife to pry under one corner. Carefully run your tool around the entire edge until it starts lifting away from itself.

Once a large enough gap is created by all sides, carefully run a serrated knife under the plywood to separate it from the rest of the layers. You can use a chisel for this but work slowly and with an eye on not damaging any of the decorative pieces around the outside edges.

Depending on how deep your scratch will determine if you can get away with filling it in with a crayon or marker pen. Surface scratches that aren’t too bad can be filled in easily with something like a wax crayon. First, check to see if it matches well enough by swiping your furniture’s finish across some scrap blotter paper while laying down even pressure until you get all of your colorings onto one area. If everything looks good, rub off any excess that climbed up onto surrounding areas or that didn’t get absorbed.

There are a number of different putty-like products that you can use to fill in deeper scratches, but most come with a drying time that is too long for me to be comfortable using them in a project. So instead, I recommend grabbing some shellac and mixing it 50/50 with an alcohol based wood stain. This will let you fill in the scratch with something pigmented enough to almost match your existing finish while being able to blend it in slowly at your own pace. Let it dry completely before working on another area, though, because this mixture has a tendency to try and run if there’s still excess moisture from the crayon or marker underneath.

How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals, Zazzy Home

Repairing Deep Scratches In wood furniture

One of the most common ways to fix a deep scratch or gouge is by using a specialized wood filler. Usually, you would start with something like sawdust and work your way up through progressively larger grits until it’s smooth enough to match the surrounding finish, but this typically takes hours to achieve the desired results.

If you don’t have that kind of time or patience, you can use some super fine steel wool instead, along with some regular white glue (not the gel type) mixed at about 10 parts wood glue to 1 part water.

When it dries, it will be clear enough that you shouldn’t even notice it when everything has been sanded down later on, but for now, just wipe off any excess that got into surrounding areas, so things don’t get too sticky.

Once again, use even pressure to make sure all of your scratches are covered and let it dry completely before trying to remove any excess with a damp rag. Once the wood filler has dried, if there are any areas that still don’t look right, you can always go back in with either some super fine steel wool or fine grit sandpaper if needed for more blending purposes by using the same amount of water as before.

When using this method to repair scratches on solid wooden furniture, I would recommend being much more cautious about what happens when applying the mixture.

If you do accidentally push too hard for too long, the only way to fix it is by removing all of the filler that has been pushed into the scratch itself and starting over from scratch, so take your time!

How to remove marks and scratches from wooden furniture without chemicals, Zazzy Home

To Sum It All Up

For those looking for a simple solution to repair wood scratches without having to call in expensive high-end services, look no further than something like a wax crayon or marker pen or furniture polish and lots of effort. If you cannot find furniture polish, then, assuming you can find the right color, shoe polish is a viable replacement.

As great as it sounds, though, I can’t stress enough how important it is not to rush things and think about what’s going on around the immediate area before trying anything drastic, or not only can you make the problem worse, but you can damage the surrounding wood!

Messing around with glue makes sense because it acts like putty, but it can also make things worse if you don’t know what you’re doing or if the repair isn’t done right.

With wood filler, though, while I highly recommend using something like very fine steel wool to blend in any area that doesn’t look natural enough (and only if needed), there’s also a chance that whatever was used before may work fine and won’t need any extra help.

As far as how long everything will last before starting to show again, honestly, it all comes down to how well your furniture is cared for in general. When that time comes, and it’s time to re-do everything again, just repeat the same steps used earlier in this article for all of the areas that need attention until everything looks amazing again! Remember to keep a soft cloth and furniture polish to hand so you can make quick and easy running repairs by giving the wood grain a quick buff as and when needed to remote scratches. 


Meet Jeff. For the last 10 years, he's been repairing and fixing problem homes - from leaky roofs to faulty wiring. He started blogging about his experiences as a way to help others who might be struggling with home repairs, and he's become something of an expert in the field. Jeff is always up for a challenge, and he loves sharing his tips and advice with others. When it comes to home repairs, Jeff knows what he's talking about. So if you're looking for some help and guidance, be sure to check out his latest guide!

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