Today I am going to share with you probably the biggest secret of my trade as an antique dealer and rehabilitating old stuff. You probably won't believe me initially but that secret is oven cleaner.
I know, crazy. I first came to believe in the wonders of oven cleaner when I found a 1950's upholstered chair at a garage sale. It had that nylon fabric that is indestructible. The chair was that great 50's green and it had a matching footstool. Both had big fat bullion fringe ... but they were filthy.
I tried everything, boiling water, upholstery cleaner, scrubbing with a tooth brush, laundry soap, shampoo ... nothing touched it. It was then that I reasoned that the greasy dirt was not coming off because I needed something that attacked grease. I figured if they didn't come clean, they were not going to go into my house and I would have to junk them. So I thought ... greasy dirt ... and I brought out the oven cleaner. It worked. I sprayed it on, scrubbed and hosed them down. It was a miracle.
Later my daughter was going to toss her very dirty but otherwise nice, microfiber couch, I used the same method, and voila ... like new. (She has taken to using it herself since.)
I also use it on old furniture that is painted with oil base paint, like the great cupboard above that was used in someone's garage before it came into my life. I took this picture after cleaning most of it, the lower right had door has not been cleaned yet. I sprayed it with overncleaner, waited about 3 minutes and then washed it down.
You can see a closeup of the untreated area in the picture to the right, the part that still wears the exhaust of the garage. The oven cleaner actually strips off a thin layer of paint, leaving it looking so much nicer and cleaner, but you still get to keep the old chippy paint.( The top two pictures were taken in daylight, so the color of the cupboard is somewhat washed out. The picture below was taken in the evening and shows the true color better.)
Now for a couple of notes of caution. Wear rubber gloves when you use oven cleaner, its caustic. Make sure the area is well ventilated. I hold my breath while spraying a small area, then leave the room for a few minutes. I then come back with a clean rinsed rag and wipe the area before repeating the process.
Also, don't leave it on too long. Here's a cautionary tale, I was cleaning one of those old 50's appliance three tiered carts yesterday and sprayed it down, meaning to come back in a few minutes. I got distracted and it was two hours. Oops. By the time I resprayed ( it had dried) and wiped it, I lost large areas of paint going right down to the metal.
BTW once you start thinking about greasy dirt, you will be amazed at how great oven cleaner is. I use it on the cake plates on top of my kitchen cabinets, it makes short work of that accumulated kitchen grease/dust. I use it on my cookware. I have used it on my carpet when greasy foot prints happen. I have even sprayed it on grease stained clothing before tossing it in the washer. I have not had it effect the color of anything, but you will probably want to do a test patch.
Thanks for coming along and learning about the joys of oven cleaner, ya'll come back now, hear!?