I think we all scavenge Craigslist for incredible finds and sometimes we find the most gorgeous piece- minus all the crud covering it. Or- it is just a piece that needs to be cleaned prior to painting. And I always recommend cleaning down cabinetry in the kitchen, bath, or laundry room prior to painting. No matter the painting occasion, this is what I do at The Purple Painted Lady:
OPTION 1: The rag should be slightly damp, but not dripping! I like to use “real” Mineral Spirits..meaning not the “green” Mineral Spirits that have that milky white appearance. I personally feel it does not work as well as the original Mineral Spirits.
Take your rag and place it on the opening of the Mineral Spirits. Flip the container a couple of times in different areas of the rag. (Think like how you would put nail polish remover onto a cotton swab or ball)
With a tiny bit of Mineral Spirits on your rag, rub the piece in the direction of the grain of the wood. The mineral spirits on the rag will remove grease or dirt. Again, I always do this prior to painting a cabinet job. In the bath- I wipe off residual toothpaste and in kitchens- the cabinets near the dog’s food dish or garbage can are the dirtiest. Such as life though- and we all live in our homes versus using them as a show room.
After wiping down your piece with Mineral Spirits, give it a bit of time to allow the Mineral Spirits to totally evaporate prior to painting. (If you are doing a few pieces- by the time you finish cleaning the last piece- the first will be ready.) Or, if you are a patient person, clean the piece then give it a day before painting. (I never do this- but then again- sadly patience in not my strongest virtue. I wish it was!)
The washing with Mineral Spirits will remove any residual oil or grease from the wood if there is any. Mineral spirits will evaporate from the wood completely without leaving any residue. This is the purpose in waiting some time – up to a day after cleaning with mineral spirits… for the mineral spirits to evaporate.
Some people recommend using TSP to clean your furniture- and that is fine too. However, I just use Mineral Spirits. Mineral Spirits are a staple in my painting closet and I always have it on hand. Also- if you make a glaze out of your wax using Mineral Spirits- I recommend staying away from the “Green” Mineral Spirits – which has a milky white look to it.
TSP was commonly used prior to the 1970′s to clean walls prior to painting them. The reason for cleaning with TSP was because it etched the gloss of oil based paint, making it rougher so that the next coat of paint would stick better. If you have an oil based paint on your wood, then I’d clean them with TSP if you intend to repaint that wood. But, there is no point whatever in cleaning bare wood with TSP, or latex painted wood with TSP.
If you do use TSP, then I would also clean the residual TSP off the piece of furniture with a clear water wash.
Use Denatured alcohol. Create a ratio of 60/40 = alcohol to water. Then as stated above, moisten a rag (not soak it.) Wipe down the piece of furniture or cabinets, and then let dry.
Hope this little post was interesting and helpful!