How to Remove Lacquer and Varnish Stains

Removing varnish stains can often be a difficult task.
Removing varnish stains can often be a difficult task.
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­Lacquer and varnish are used to give surfaces a beautiful shine, but when it gets on the wrong surface, the result is anything but pretty. Read on for tips on how to remove stubborn lacquer and varnish stains.

The first step in removing lacquer and varnish stains is to identify the stained material.­­­

­Below are the most common types of materials that can become varnish-stained, with steps on how to remove lacquer and varnish stains from each:

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Non-washable Fibers

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from Acetate, Fiberglass, Rayon, Silk, Triacetate, Wool:

  • Scrape (the method of using a dull tool to gently lift off excess solid or caked-on stains) to remove excess.
  • Apply a dry spotter to the stain and cover with an absorbent pad moistened with dry spotter. Let it stand as long as any stain is being removed.
  • Keep the pad and stain moist.
  • Flush (the method of applying stain remover to loosen staining material and residue from stain removers) with a dry-cleaning solvent and allow to dry.

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Washable Fibers

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from Acrylic Fabric, Burlap, Cotton, Linen, Modacrylic, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, Rope, Spandex:

  • Scrape to remove any excess lacquer immediately.
  • Flush acetone through the stain to an absorbent pad underneath.
  • When no more stain is being removed, change pads and flush well with a dry-cleaning solvent such as Afta Cleaning Fluid. Allow to dry thoroughly.

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Hard Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from Acrylic Plastic, Asphalt, ­Cork, Linoleum, Plexiglas, Polyurethane, Vinyl Clothing, Vinyl Tile, Vinyl Wallcovering:

  • Lacquer can quickly damage or ruin these surfaces, so act immediately.
  • Scrape to remove any excess with a dull knife.
  • Dab the area with a cloth dipped in amyl acetate. Rinse. Note: This stain may be permanent.

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Stone Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from Alabaster, Marble:

  • Wipe up the excess immediately.
  • ­Wipe the area with a cloth dampened with acetone.
  • Rinse with a damp cloth and wipe dry.
  • If any stain remains, make a poultice of water, 3% hydrogen peroxide, and a mild powder detergent.
  • Apply the poultice to the stain and cover with a damp cloth to retard evaporation.
  • When the stain has been bleached out, rinse thoroughly with water and wipe dry.

Metal Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from Aluminum, lron, Stainless Steel, Tin:

  • Wipe excess immediately.
  • To remove any discoloration, wash with a steel wool soap pad. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry.

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Bamboo or Cane

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from bamboo or cane:

  • Remove the excess and wipe the area with a cloth dipped in mild pure soapsuds to which a little ammonia has been added.
  • If any stain remains, try dipping the edge of a clean cloth into acetone and gently dab at the stain -- be careful not to force any staining material into the surface. Note: If not treated immediately, this could become a permanent stain.

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Masonry

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone, Masonry Tile, Sandstone, Slate, Terrazzo:

  • Remove the excess as soon as possible.
  • With a cloth dipped in acetone, dab at the remaining stain until no more is picked up.
  • Wash the area with a soft-bristled brush, using a solution of washing soda or detergent (not soap) and water.
  • Rinse with clear water and allow to dry.

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Carpet

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from carpet:

  • Scrape as much of the excess as you can without forcing the lacquer deeper into the fiber.
  • Apply amyl acetate to the stain and cover with an absorbent pad dampened with amyl acetate.
  • Keep moist and let stand for about 15 minutes, blotting occasionally.
  • Scrape to help loosen the sta­in.

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Smooth Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from Ceramic Glass/Tile, Enamel, Glass, Porcelain Fixtures:

  • ­Wipe up excess lacquer as soon as possible.
  • Wash with a cloth dipped in a solution of washing soda, water, and a few drops of ammonia.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.
  • Hardened lacquer can sometimes be carefully scrape with a razor blade on all surfaces except porcelain.

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Grout

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from grout:

  • Wipe up as much excess as possible.
  • Dip a wet toothbrush into a little baking soda or powdered cleanser and scrub gently.
  • Rinse well with clear water and wipe dry.

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Leather or Suede

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from leather or suede:

  • Carefully scrape to remove excess lacquer.
  • Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water.
  • Swish to create a great volume of suds.
  • Apply only the foam with a sponge. Dry with a clean cloth.
  • If the lacquer has hardened, gently rub it with an emery board or a piece of fine sandpaper.
  • As a thin layer of the hide will also be removed, work slowly and lightly.

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Paint

Follow these steps to remove lacquer and varnish stains from paint:

  • Wipe away the excess, being careful not to spread the lacquer.
  • Wipe the stain with a cloth dipped in 1 pint warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon borax.
  • Rinse with clear water and dry thoroughly.

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