Do you know what cleaners to use or what NOT to use?

Cleanliness is next to Godliness, especially when it comes to prepping your furniture for paint. Do you know what to use or what NOT to use? This post will go over a few types of cleaners to use on furniture before painting it  in order to get the absolute best paint adhesion.

So if you’re new to painting furniture or if you’ve been doing it along time, I hope you can learn from my mistakes and do what it took me 4 years to figure out. As Homer Simpson always says…”Doh!” In fact, until I researched this process, just like you are doing (good for you!), I used Windex or other surface cleaners to get the dirt off. I wasn’t getting great results, and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know, and I’m going to share it with you.

Let’s get started! Everyone likes a little experiment, right? I decided to test the two most popular cleaning methods/cleaners out there and compare it to one one I use to see which one was best. In the world of furniture painting, I commonly see people either using vinegar or TSP. Like I said, I didn’t even use that when I first started. Then I found TSP, and I used it for many years. Unfortunately, I still had some instances that my paint didn’t stick well and would end up chipping off. My mentor, Amy Howard, taught me that it was years of wax build up that kept the paint from adhering. TSP doesn’t remove wax, so I had to find something else. Off I went to find a solution (and I did find one, yay!).


Before I tell you what it is though, I want to show you my experiment. I started by taping off three sections of my table and them cleaned each section with its respective cleaner – vinegar, TSP or Clean Slate (the cleaner I now use). I wiped off the dirt on each section using individual lint free rags (first pass). i then went back over each section using a new rag and Clean Slate to see how much dirt was left behind with each cleaner (second pass). As you can see, the Clean Slate removed the most dirt from the initial first pass clean and had the least amount left over as seen with the second pass.

Paint Adhesion:

So why is it so important to get the dirt and wax off? Because paint, even chalk based paints, won’t adhere to dirt, wax or grime. To see which cleaner created the cleanest surface for adhesion, I painted a “cleaned” section with Amy Howard’s One-Step Paint. I let it dry and then came back with a flat edge screw driver to see how much and how easily the paint would scratch off.

As you can see from the pics above, the area cleaned with vinegar had the worst paint adhesion, TSP came in second and Clean Slate was again the winner! I want to also draw your attention to an important lesson I learned. I came to find out later that the makers of TSP added instructions to their package, telling you to wash the area with clean water after using TSP. That’s because it leaves a film that can prevent paint from adhering. Crazy huh?

Watch the Experiment:

If you are like me and want to see the video first-hand, watch the experiment below. While you’re there, check out my other tutorials and be sure to hit the “subscribe” and “bell” icon button to get notified about all my tutorials, product demos and time lapse videos. Trust me, you don’t want to miss them, and I would be so appreciative.


Well, I hope that was helpful for you and that it’s possibly saved you a lot of future headaches when painting furniture!! As always, you can always ask me questions if needed.

Buy The Cleaner:

Now the most important part, where can you get this fabulous clearer? I glad you asked! You can grab it right here. I also recommend you get some good cleaning clothes. You’ll want to make sure they are lint free. If you paint a lot of furniture or have other cleaning needs, I also like the bulk car wax rags I found at Costco. Unfortunately, I can’t find it on their website, but it was in their automotive section. While you’re there, why don’t you also grab some chalk-based paint? Amy’s is absolutely, hands-down the best. Believe me, I’ve tried just about everything and decided to use hers for my business.

Ok, I think that’s it. Have a great day and happy painting!





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