*How To Remove Silicone Contamination from a Wood Surface?

There are no guarantees with silicone - it is almost impossible to remove. If the silicone has migrated into the wood through cracks in the old finish, you may not be able to get it all removed.

Unfortunately, silicone contaminants, often from dusting sprays, do not become apparent until a new finish is applied and generally cannot be removed from the surface, only moved around and possibly sealed - a bane of the refinishing industry.

You need to power clean the existing finish and put on some type of barrier coat:

  1. Power clean the surface by scrubbing with a strong detergent such as Spic and Span and warm water combination with a gray Scotch-Brite pad. There is also a product called Purge All (Potassium Hydroxide) that works well against silicone contamination. Scrub with green scotch bright pad to remove silicone. It's similar to Spic & Span ( detergent). Others have recommended dishwasher pods dissolved in warm water help break down the oils. After that, clean with denatured alcohol full strength.
  2. Apply 3 coats of dewaxed shellac. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly.
  3. Then cross your fingers and test the first coat of finish by rubbing a nickel across the finish. Or lightly scrape with a blunt table knife (not a sharp or serrated knife.

In most cases, you will need to strip and sand, but even then there is no guarantee of success.

Protect yourself in custom refinishing contracts with a clause similar to this:

We cannot warrant finishes over an existing piece of furniture. If products containing silicone (such as dusting sprays), oil soaps or waxes have been previously used on the piece, they may contaminate a new finish and prevent adhesion. In these situations, it is best to strip and sand the entire piece. Occasionally, a previous wax finish or silicone may be impossible to completely remove.

________ (Initials) I acknowledge that this piece has never been waxed/polished with a silicone-based dusting spray or cleaned with oil soaps.

________ (Initial) I have no knowledge of previous cleaning products used but realize that they may have been applied by previous owners.

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