Eco-office makeover, Part 4
The last post in this series, like any good mystery, left you in breathless anticipation of this one, I’m sure.
The wait is over.
What I found when I searched for a non-toxic paint remover consists of two ingredients:
Flour and washing soda!
See why I didn’t believe it when I read it?
Come on. I’ve been using Arm & Hammer washing soda as an ingredient in my homemade laundry soap.
Plus flour? Seriously?
These two ingredients were going to remove paint?
I’m no newbie to the web and I fully realize that you can’t believe much of what you read there (or in the newspaper for that matter), so I naturally thought this was some kind of joke.
But since I had the two ingredients and knew the mixture wouldn’t leave me gasping for air, I figured what the heck. I’ll give it a try.
I mixed up a batch and applied it to the table top, all the while shaking my head and thinking what I nut I was to waste my time with this obviously cockamamie idea. There was no way it could work.
After an hour, I grabbed my all-purpose scraper and tentatively began scraping, my expectations lower than a 9-m0nths-pregnant belly.
It was a miracle! A bloody miracle!
With very little effort, the paint came off! (Sorry for all those exclamation points, but I don’t know how else to convey the combination of shock, amazement and elation I felt!)
Twenty minutes later the table top was naked as a newborn.
A quick rinse with vinegar to remove the film you see in the photo above, and the desk was ready for my next attempt to spiff it up.
If you happen to be in the market for a non-toxic paint remover, here’s how I did it, based on Recipe #1 here.
Non-toxic paint remover
7 oz. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)
7 oz. water
2/3 cup flour
putty knife or other “bendable” implement
spray bottle of plain water
all purpose kitchen scraper (I’m sure this implement has an official name, but for the life of me I have no idea what it is)
1. Dissolve washing soda in water.
2. In separate container, mix flour with a little water, just enough to moisten
3. Add more water, a bit at a time until you end up with a thick paste
4. Add the dissolved washing soda and mix well. The mixture should still be thick and gluey.
5. Spread paste over the surface.
6. Leave paste for minimum of a half hour (I left for an hour), but keep it damp by spraying when you see it is drying out.
7. Use the kitchen scraper to remove the paint and paste. It should come up easily. In spots where it doesn’t, respray and recoat. The “remainders” should lift up within a few minutes. I actually took the paste with bits of paint mixed in and applied it to the places where the paint wasn’t coming up so easily and it lifted like magic.
8. Finish off with a vinegar wash and wipe dry with rag.
Whether this would work on the woodwork of a 100-year-old farmhouse with sixteen layers of paint, I can’t say, but it’s certainly worth a try.
I will caution that although washing soda is a “natural substance,” directions on the box does say to avoid getting it in your eyes. If you’re super-cautious (or have allergies), you might want to wear eye protection and gloves when applying the paste or removing the paint. I didn’t and had no problems at all.
Let me know if you try this and it works—or doesn’t—for you.
Next in the series, how I got the colorful desktop I wanted without painting it.
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, and founders of Green Halloween®.