My favorite Stripper for removing Paint & Finishes

I’ve tried many strippers over the years

 Many burn holes through your skin if you splash the tiniest spec of it onto your hand or arms.

stripping gentleman's chest

 Some don’t work for squat 


but one is just right…

Zinnser's Magic Strip Action Gel

Zinnser’s Magic Strip Citrus-Action Gel

Why?  Because I’m clumsy

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and I don’t like it when my skin burns if tiny specs splatter on my skin

I know this because I’ve done it numerous times and it really stings!  The fastest strippers also have a shorter working time.  As soon as the harsh chemicals evaporate (minutes), they’re done working which means I have to start all over again with more stripper.

That makes me mad!

Zinnser’s Magic Strip Citrus-Action Gel works for me while I sleep.  It stays wet for 24 hours meaning it will continue to eat through layers of paint and finishes as long as the gel remains wet.  To insure the heat won’t dry it out, I throw a piece of waxed paper over it and let it work while I’m getting catching some ZZZ’s.

Feb Anastasia - stripping drawers waxed paper

 The next morning, it slides right off like butta!  It not only works to remove paint, but also to remove old clear coats.  We used it on the tops of all the pieces of the antique mahogany bedroom set we just refinished.

Zinnser's Magic Strip Action Gel stripping old finishes off furniture Shizzle Design

After all the old finish was removed and wiped down, I went over it with some Low Odor Mineral Spirits to make sure all the residue was cleaned off.  These pieces turned out beautifully!


I used MinWax’s Jacobean to stain the tops.  I wanted to make the tops a little darker because they were quite red when I purchased the set.

staining the top of an end table Shizzle Design painted furniture nightstan Mahogany

At this point I could have used a clear coat to seal it but I wanted more of a custom, high end finish so I opted for American Paint Company’s Dark Antiquing Wax.  It’s my favorite.  I love the way it looks with the custom cream color Cath mixed up for the body.

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This is absolutely the look I wanted for this bedroom set and I’m tickled pink with how everything turned out.  Being my own worst critic, I usually pick apart everything I do, so it was nice to be proud of everything in the end.  Apparently somebody else liked it too; the entire set sold within minutes of setting it up in the store.  Thank you!!

Stay tuned as I share our experience and all the other pieces of this bedroom set.

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Have a great weekend!!


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Linking up to these GREAT Parties!

Domestically Speaking – The Power of Paint Party

The Shabby Creek Cottage – Transformation Thursday

Miss Mustardseed – Furniture Feature Friday

Redoux – Friday Link Up Party

Homespun Happenings – Rustic Restorations Weekend

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Knick of Time Interiors – Knick of Time Tuesday

a hui hou ~ Shelly

24 Replies to “My favorite Stripper for removing Paint & Finishes”

  1. Wow…exquisite! Thanks for the tip on the wax paper! I live in Florida and the hot sun dries out the stripper before the 24 hour mark. I also love the fact you use Minwax. I read bad comments all of the time but personally I think it’s fabulous!

    1. I agree Paula! Minwax does seem to get low marks from our industry but I’ve had amazing results using it. I like it better than several other more expensive brands on the market and they have my go to colors.

  2. When I used to strip furniture (a long time ago) — along the way I realized that putting a piece of plastic wrap over the stripper would help. I don’t recall leaving it on overnight though, so I don’t know if it would have held up as well as your wax paper. It does indeed give the stripper a much better chance to work, and when you lifted the plastic, a lot of the mess would lift away with it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. A lot of it does come off when you pull off the paper. The cool thing is you can slide off the remaining goo onto the waxed paper and then throw it all away because it’s a green product. More clean, more green 😉

  3. Thanks for the tips! I’m getting ready to use the Jacobean on the tops of a bedroom set, like the tip of applying the dark aging wax over it….looks great! What colors did you use for the body?

  4. Hey, a warning!
    First, I’m addicted to the original Citristrip. I’m stripping 15 antique doors. This stuff is so fabulous, that while I want for it, I’ve come in the house and stripped 3 kitchen cabinets, my front mahogany door (of stain) and its sidelights. All in my pajamas, barefoot, without a space suit. It doesn’t take color out of my jeans. And it smells good.

    The thing is, watch the mineral spirits. If you’re removing stain, it’ll liquify the stain again and back into the wood it goes. Usually a bright magenta. With Citristrip you can leave it until it turns to BBQ sauce, scrape it, then scrub a LOT more stain off with a scrubbie and water. Yup. Water. It is A.m.a.z.i.n.g to get to bare wood. If it dries? Just scrape the powder off.

    Oh scraping! I scrape my sludge off into a drywall bucket lined with a grocery bag. It doesn’t eat the plastic.

    I put it on thick, then I go to bed. Or to work. Doesn’t matter. Again, if it dries, unlike regular stripper, it remains lifted off the wood. (Usually’ll go through at least 4 layers of paint for me.) If it’s a windy day, I cover it with plastic wrap. When I ran out of that, I cut up grocery store plastic bags. Labels up because the ink does bleed into the stripper — but not into the wood!

    Sorry for the happy rant; I couldn’t help it! I am astonished when paint comes off in sheets. I have pictures! Then, to see the gorgeous wood come to light? I’m going to antique most of them, but I’d rather have this great grain show than old varnish. Yeah!!!

    1. Glad to know you love it so much Christine ~ lol. I have to admit, I’m not quite that excited about the process until I see the results but I do love my magic strip!!

  5. I heard about you from Unique Pieces in Auburn, IN but it’s taken me about a month to look you up! She was really impressed with you! I love all your stuff and that desk is GORG!!! I favor stain on top and distressed creamy colors. I checked out some of your other stuff and WOWZA! I think I’m in love! Sorry to gush, but you gained a new follower! And who doesn’t like to have nice things said about them?!?! Check me out at I am getting ready to do a major overhaul on the site, but it is what it is for now! Oh yeah, I’m getting ready to strip a piece and really needed this Citrus Action Gel advice! Thanks!

    1. You can strip the sides with that same Zinnser gel stripper that I use on the rest of my pieces. It’s a gel so it won’t slide off and you can put waxed paper over it to keep it working overnight while you sleep 🙂

  6. I too could not find a place to purchase the Zinsser Magic Strip ANYWHERE!!! I looked online, in stores, and made many phone calls. I currently use Citristrip. The first time I hated it! But, now I am more patient with it, know how to work with it, and am happy the results. However, since you like Zinsser’s SO much better, I was determined to get my hands on some! Hehe… So, yesterday I was finally able to work out a special order of it through Home Depot. I had to order a case of it, but YAY!!! Can’t wait to try it!

  7. So Glad I came across your blog!! Your desk above is BEAUTIFUL!! I love how the natural wood top makes it pop!
    I am going to try the Zinsser Magic Strip, I have used Citrus strip and it works alright.
    I do have a question that hopefully you or someone reading can help with… I have this beautiful piece that has carved details but most of them have been filled in/ covered with chalk paint and I can not seem to remove it :(. Any ideas???
    Thanks so much!
    – Jessica

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