How to Remove Scratches from Wood with Vinegar, Lemon, or Toothpaste?

How to Remove Scratches from Wood with Vinegar Lemon or Toothpaste

If you have wooden furniture at home, the chances of wear and tear are pretty high. Your furniture is bound to rack up a collection of nicks, dents, scratches, and all-around scruff marks on the surface over the years of use.   

But there is no need to live with banged-up furniture when you can get rid of these marks easily. As long as there isn’t too much of a damage, no need to hire professional help to restore and refinish your furniture. With a few easy tricks and tips, you can do the job yourself!  

So, you are perhaps wondering how to remove scratches from wood. Well, with household items like vinegar, lemon, or toothpaste, you can get rid of minor scratch marks in no time. For deeper scratches, you can use wood filler, crayon wax, nut meat, coffee grounds, black tea, etc to fill in the scratch.   

Let’s look at these DIY tricks which can help us remove scratches from wood.   

How to Remove Scratches from Wood with Vinegar  

Vinegar is a popular household cleaner that works wonders for removing stains, scratches, deodorizing, cleaning, and more. Typically white vinegar contains 5% acetic acid and 95% water. The acidic property of vinegar helps it naturally remove marks, spots, and dirt easily.   

However, to repair light scratches you need a stronger solution of white vinegar. That’s where the oil comes in. Mixing the white vinegar with oil gives you the desired solution which you won’t find with regular vinegar use. Too much high concentration of acetic acid can damage the wood finish, but mixing it with oil the effect lessens quite a lot.   

Moreover, the oil expands the wood to fill the hole, and the vinegar stains it a darker color to match the finish. Besides, canola or olive oil is an entirely natural product and food safe, making it perfectly safe for use on surfaces.   

However, don’t forget to test it first! You should apply the solution to a small section and check to make sure it’s not damaging your top finish. If it’s working properly then go for the whole thing.   

Things You Will Need  

  • White vinegar  
  • Oil (Olive/Canola)   
  • Soft cotton rags  

Step 1

Put ½ cup of white vinegar with ½ cup of cooking oil in a bowl or a cup and mix well. Keep the ratio of the mixture at 1:1 for the most effective result. You can also use apple cider as well.   

Step 2

Whisk till completely mixed, then dip a soft cotton rag into the cup. Make sure the rag is soaked and immersed in the solution. Squeeze the rag after dipping so there is no excess moisture dripping from it.  

Step 3

Take the soaked rag and apply it to the scratched area. Rub the cloth in a circular motion over the surface area and work towards the grain.   

Step 4

Let the mixture work on the surface for 2 minutes. This way the oil swells the cracks and fills in and the vinegar corrects the scratch’s color and moisturizes the wood.   

Step 5

Get a clean dry rag to wipe off the excess solution. Make sure there is no extra residue left on the surface. Use the rag to buff the surface until it shines.  

How to Remove Scratches from Wood with Lemon Juice 

Minor or surface scratches often respond well to lemon juice. If the minor scratch is on the finish and does not penetrate the wood underneath, it’s a surface cut. Plus, there won’t be any discoloration with surface scratches.   

To deal with surface cuts, lemon juice, and oil is a mighty combination. Lemon juice restores the color of wood the same as vinegar does.  

Remove Scratches from Wood with Lemon Juice
Remove Scratches from Wood with Lemon Juice

Things You Will Need  

  • Lemon juice  
  • Lint-free cloth  
  • Olive or vegetable oil  

Step 1

Mix equal parts of lemon juice and vegetable/olive oil and make a solution. Take a lint-free cloth and moisten it with the mixture.   

Step 2

Rub the cloth firmly but gently over the scratched area. Don’t rub too rough or hard in case it damages the finish of the wood. Keep rubbing in the direction of the wood grain until the mark is no longer noticeable.   

Step 3

Use another clean cloth to remove the excess oil from the surface area. Repeat the steps if necessary. Continue till you have effectively removed all marks.  

How to Remove Scratches from Wood with Toothpaste 

Aside from vinegar and lemon, toothpaste is another good way to remove marks and scratches. The gel-like consistency of the toothpaste makes it a good cleaner and scratch remover. It also helps to remove dark water stains from wood.    

Just applying a small amount on the spot will be enough. You can also mix equal amounts of toothpaste with baking soda to get rid of particularly stubborn spots.   

Things You Will Need

  • Toothpaste  
  • Soft-bristle toothbrush   
  • Clean and soft cloth  

Step 1

Apply a small amount of toothpaste to the affected area and use a soft-bristle toothbrush to scrub away all nicks and marks. Gently work in the same direction as the wood grain. Rubbing too hard may ruin the wood finish.    

Step 2

After gently rubbing the toothpaste, use a damp cloth to rinse the paste from the wood surface. Allow the area to dry off thoroughly.    

Step 3

Wipe the area with a clean and dry cloth to apply a coat of furniture polish for extra shine and protection. If the scratch marks aren’t gone, repeat the steps as needed.    

Removing Scratches from Wood with Household Items  


This method actually worked pretty well, although it took a few minutes for the walnut oil to actually stain the wood. When I first looked at the scratch, I thought it was mediocre, but five minutes later the scratch was barely visible at all!   

Trying the walnut method is as easy as it sounds! Just take a walnut, crack it in half and rub the inside meat part of the walnut on the scratch. And it works pretty well too! At first, the result may not seem much, but after 5 minutes you can barely see the scratch at all.    

This method works well because nut oil hides not only scratch marks but also stains and expands the wood. You can also use other types of nuts such as Brazil nut, pecan, almond, etc instead of walnut.

Removing Scratches from Wood with Walnut
Removing Scratches from Wood with Walnut


Using a crayon to hide out the scratches on wood is more of a temporary solution. As in the scratch won’t disappear completely and it would be sufficiently covered up.   

However, a good thing about crayons is that you can mix and match them to get the closest color to your wooden furniture. Moreover, most crayons are non-toxic and food safe so you can use them on your dining table without any worry.   

For this method, first, select a wax crayon that matches the color of your scratched furniture. Color in the scratched area and rub it with your finger to blend it well with the finish. Scrap away the excess wax with the edge of an old credit card and buff up the surface with a clean cloth.    

Black Tea

Another easy hack for scratch removal is to use black tea. People on the internet swear by it and I’ve tried it with success as well. But remember, only black tea will do the trick. If you use green or herbal tea, the result won’t be satisfactory. So, how do you use it? Well, do it just like you make a cup of tea.    

First, put a teabag in a mug and pour boiling water onto the bag. Let it steep for a couple of minutes. The longer the tea bag is soaked, the darker it will be. So, if you have darker-colored furniture, you need more steeping time.    

Now take the tea and dab it onto the scratches with a cotton swab. Quickly wipe away the excess with a paper towel so it doesn’t stain the surrounding area. Also, don’t let it sit on the surface for too long, in case the water seeps into the wood causing more stains or warping the wood.    

Coffee Grounds 

To remove light-colored scratches from a dark-stained wood finish, you can try the coffee ground method. The coffee grounds make the scratch look darker and less visible from a distance. It’s particularly fitting for darker wood like acacia.   

Make a thick paste with some instant coffee grounds and a little bit of hot water. Rub the paste over the scratch and cover with it. Clean the excess coffee grounds from the surface and dry them with a towel.  


To remove scratches on the surface of a dark wood finish, iodine is another trick you can try. Not only for your scratched skin, iodine the antiseptic solution creates wonder for the marks on your furniture too. Especially for dark woods like mahogany or cherry, it works better.   

For this method to work, first, take a cotton swab and put a few drops of iodine into it. Then apply it to the scratch. It’s better to start with a light shade before applying more layers. Wipe away the excess iodine immediately so it doesn’t stain the wood surrounding the scratch. If you have furniture with light-colored wood, dilute the iodine with an equal amount of denatured alcohol so that it doesn’t ruin the color of the wood.   


Mayonnaise is already a tried and tested solution for getting rid of water stains from wood. No wonder it works great on healing cracks and scratches as well, especially for hardwood floors.   

Putting mayonnaise on your floor or your furniture perhaps doesn’t sound like a good plan. But believe me, this trick actually works!   

Actually, the protein and the oils in the mayonnaise help the wood to swell up and moisturize the surface. To get the effect, first, clean the area and remove as much dirt as possible. Then apply a tablespoon full of mayonnaise on the spot and leave it for a time. Some recommend leaving it for just a few minutes while some advice keeping it for 15-30 minutes or more. Remember to keep the area covered with a clean cloth and later wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

Fixing Deep Scratches in Wood

Sometimes, the scratches are too deep or wide to remove using household items. If common tricks don’t work, what can you do to tackle the problem?    

The easy solution is to call for a professional. However, fixing deep scratches isn’t that much of a problem. If you know the proper steps, you can even do it yourself!    

Here read on to find out:   

  1. Clean the scratched area: Use a soft cloth to clean up the damaged surface. Put specialized hardwood cleaner in a rug and rub it gently. In case the furniture is coated with a layer of polyurethane, use mineral spirits. Later, wipe it with a dry cloth and let the area dry out completely.    
  1. Fill in the scratch: Use a specialized wood filler to fill in the hope or chips. Make sure the filler matches the color of the furniture. Use your finger to work it into the scratch and avoid air gaps. Also remember, wood filler and wood putty have completely different substances so avoid wood putty.    
  1. Remove excess filling: If you put too much filler into the hole, remove the extra filler. You can use a putty knife or any old credit card to smooth out the surface. That way, the wood filler will be pushed deeper into the scratch as well.    
  1. Let it dry: Wait for the filler to dry out first. Drying times can be different so check the packaging beforehand for accurate drying times.    
  1. Sand excess filling: Use sandpaper on the dried area around the scratch. You can use medium 180 grit sandpaper or fine 240 grit sandpaper. Just remember to watch the wood’s grain direction and always sand by following it. You can also sand by going in small circles, but you should do it lightly.    
  1. Seal the fixed area: Use a soft brush to apply a layer of appropriate oil or wax to seal the area. Blend it to the same color as the original if possible. You should wait at least 24 hours for the filling area to dry out before touching it again.    


Does toothpaste remove scratches from wood?  

Besides vinegar, toothpaste is another good household item to get rid of marks and scratches. You can just apply a small amount to the affected spot and rub it in to get the desired effect.   

Does vinegar remove deep scratches from wood?  

As long as the wood is not dented or hollow and the scratch is just a deep one, vinegar can take care of the problem. Using vinegar, you can repair the deep scratches on the wood and make it look as good as before.   

How do you remove fine scratches from wood?   

Removing fine scratches on wood is easier to do than others. You can use vinegar, lemon juice, or toothpaste for this. Also, there are several other common household items such as nuts, tea, coffee grounds, crayons, mayonnaise, etc which work well to remove marks from wood.   

Do vinegar and olive oil fix scratches on wood furniture?   

Yes, vinegar and olive oil does fix scratches on wood furniture. Mix equal parts of oil and vinegar and pour it directly into the scratch. Let it soak for 24 hours then wipe off. It’ll take care of the marks on the surface and make it shine better.




Tested! 5 Ways to Remove Scratches From Wood Furniture

How to Remove Scratches from Wood with Vinegar, Lemon or Toothpaste

How to Remove Scratches from Wood Furniture

John Garner

Welcome from Woody Man Garner. A passionate wood craftsman and carpenter. Woodhunger is my dream site to explore whatever I did in my research projects on different types of woods. Let's be a part of my dream job!

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