How to Whiten Yellowed Paint Wood

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Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth

  • Gloves

  • Liquid varnish remover

  • Cotton swabs or balls

  • Paint varnish

  • Paintbrush

  • Water

  • Bleach

  • Bucket

  • Towel


If removing the paint along with the varnish, any wood-safe varnish remover is appropriate. Put down the remover and use a scraper to remove both paint and varnish. Use fine-grain sandpaper to smooth any splinters from the wood and then repaint with a white paint. If you prefer to preserve the original paint, the liquid varnish remover used for oil paintings can remove the varnish without removing the original paint.

Paint is used on a variety of surfaces, including wood. On wood, the most common applications of paint include kitchen cabinetry or wooden furniture. When white paint on the wood surface starts to turn yellow, whitening the paint can improve the appearance of the paint. There are two main causes of yellowing paint on wood: mold growth that is yellow and old varnish on the paint that is starting to wear out.


Whitening With Varnish

Step 1

Dust the wood surface with a soft cloth to remove any dust, dirt, cobwebs or similar items from the wood. Painted wood surfaces need regular dusting with a soft dusting rag to keep the surface clean. Never remove the old varnish from the paint until after the wooden object is cleaned. Put on gloves to protect your hands from varnish remover.

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Step 2

Apply varnish remover to a cotton ball, cotton swab or soft cloth. Gently wipe down the wood in small sections to remove the original varnish. Some paints have a varnish applied to them to protect the paint over time. Eventually, the varnish starts to break down, which results in yellowing of the paint. Removing the original varnish will take off the yellowing at the same time.


Step 3

Dip the paintbrush into the new varnish and paint the varnish onto the wood. This adds a protective coating to the existing paint so that it will not yellow again.

Step 4

Allow the varnish to dry.

Removing Mold

Step 1

Fill a bucket with warm water and add a capful of bleach to the water. Only a small amount of bleach is needed to kill and remove mold. Always dilute the bleach before using as it is a harsh chemical. Put on gloves if your hands are sensitive to bleach.


Step 2

Dip a soft cloth into the bleach and water. Gently clean the wood with the damp cloth. Bleach naturally kills the mold that causes yellowing on the painted wood. Clean the painted wood thoroughly.

Step 3

Dry the wood with a towel. Never allow water to sit on wood for long because it can damage the wood, cause rot or cause mold growth. Always towel-dry to remove excess water and then allow the remaining water to dry.

Step 4

Look over the wood surface. If it still appears slightly yellowed, clean it again with bleach and then dry it again.