DIY Before & Afters

Refinishing Wood Furniture With…Mayonnaise? Yes!

Last Updated on April 21, 2020 by Kristi Linauer

Update 4-21-20: Matt and I are fine. Our cats and dog are fine. My mom is fine. My family is fine. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll be back to blogging soon.

Y’all, have you ever heard of this? Refinishing wood furniture with mayonnaise?! I’m being totally serious here. You’ll notice that today’s date is April 6th, so this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

Yesterday when I walked into my mom’s house (because we’re still working on her kitchen!!), she said, “Look at my dining table!”

I glanced over, and noticed that for the first time since we started her kitchen makeover, the table was clear and usable. It wasn’t piled with dishes, bakeware, spices, etc., from the cabinets.

I said, “Oh, wow! You have a usable table now!”

But that wasn’t what she was trying to show me. What she wanted me to notice was that she had “refinished” her table. Several years ago, she had her dining table refinished, and it looked gorgeous when she got it back. But over the years, the top had been getting little chips in the finish. They were small, but these chips and dings were covering the surface of the table.

Can you see all of these white-ish marks?

mom's dining table before - 1

One day a couple of weeks ago, I thought this was sawdust covering the table that I had carelessly brought in with the plywood I had cut for the new cabinet doors. I was shocked when I tried to brush them off, and they didn’t move. These marks were all over the table top.

My mom had gotten so frustrated with it that she had pretty much decided she was going to get rid of this table and get a new one. She had tried other products to cover all of the little dings and scratches, like Old English Scratch Remover and those little stain pencils that you can purchase in several colors to cover scratches in hardwood flooring. Nothing she tried worked.

So this past weekend, she remembered hearing about using mayonnaise to cover scratches in wood furniture, and she gave it a try.

Now just so we’re clear, you don’t just simply wipe mayo over the surface and magically make the scratches and dings disappear. She said that she actually had to put some elbow grease into this, and it took a while. But look at these results!

mom's dining table after - removing scratches and chips in wood finish with mayonnaise

Can you believe that was done with mayonnaise?! Just plain ole mayo that you probably have in your refrigerator right now!

I couldn’t believe the difference. In person, it almost looks like a newly refinished table top.

mom's dining table after - 2
mom's dining table after - 3

Seriously, have any of you ever heard of this? I don’t understand how this could even work, and yet, I see the results with my own eyes.

mom's dining table after - 4

It worked so well on her dining table that she decided to use it on a side table in her family room that had gotten badly scratched and dinged. Here’s how it looked before the mayo makeover…

side table before - with scratches and dings in the finish

And here it is after the mayo makeover…

side table after removing scratches and dings in finish with mayonnaise

You can see that it’s not perfect. You can only remove all of the scratch marks by doing some actual sanding. But for a relatively easy fix with some mayonnaise, a rag, and some elbow grease, this is a remarkable outcome!

So…any chemists out there who want to explain to us how this works? 😀

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brenda Pawloski
    April 6, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Wow! That’s dramatic! I have a 60″ round pedestal table I love but I know it’s not an expensive piece and its veneer is thin so I’ve kept a circle of beveled glass on it. Had to replace it once when my son dropped a heavy pack of bottled water on it. The glass gets scratched and mayo won’t help that 😉

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 28, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks for letting us know. Been hoping y’all were okay. Downloaded Instagram to check on you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Not a chemist, but a former art major. 🙂 I would say it has to do with the egg and oil ingredients of the mayonnaise. Traditional tempera paint is made with egg, and there are still surviving paintings from Egyptian times, middle ages, etc! The egg acts as a binding agent, where the oils bring the wood to a fabulous glossy, conditioned finish.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 10:58 am

    So, is the sheen on the table….mayonnaise? So that every time you touch it, your fingers are coming away with oily sandwich spread? Would pets start licking the table? 🙂 The results are good, but I just could never get behind this.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 6, 2020 at 11:02 am

      The repaired finish remains even after the oils from the mayo are wiped away. 🙂 The sheen on the table is the clear coat. The table had a high sheen finish to begin with.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm

        Did she use Duke’s or another brand?

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Lisa E
        April 23, 2020 at 10:41 am

        Good to know! I read on a blog that she used it on a water ring left from a glass. She applied the mayo, let it sit over night, rubbed it off the next day and no water ring.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 6, 2020 at 11:48 am

      I have to try this right now!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:02 am

    So, practically speaking, did she put the mayonnaise on the table, then buff with cloth? Or put some on cloth and just work into the scratched areas and buff with clean cloth after? I feel like I’ve heard of this, but never tried or seen an after. Pretty amazing!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 6, 2020 at 11:08 am

      She put some on a cloth and then worked it into the wood. You do have to buff with a clean cloth after, or you’ll see the oils from the mayo left behind, which shows fingerprints very easily.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 6, 2020 at 6:30 pm

        I have used this trick to restore a wood table that had a white water ring from a glass w/o a coaster. Dabbed a little mayo on the water ring and it took it almost back to the finish original color. Don’t know why it works, but it does!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 6, 2020 at 11:30 am

      It IS an excellent tip. I have had similar results with olive oil as well. HOWEVER, my dogs then spent an unusual amount of time licking the furniture. 🤣

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Michele Bender
    April 6, 2020 at 11:10 am

    I have heard of using mayo and letting it soak in where there is a white water ring from a glass on a table. I tried it once and it didn’t work that well. But maybe I just didn’t use enough elbow grease. I wonder if using a buffer would help.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Janet Margraf
      April 6, 2020 at 11:22 am

      Michele, if you know someone who smokes, ask them to collect some ashes for you in a container. If you mix the ashes with the mayo and use some elbow grease while rubbing with a t-shirt cloth, the white ring all but disappears.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm

        Beautiful results. In the past, I’ve used walnut meat to remove scratches from wood furniture.
        The kitchen is looking great and love the color.
        Stay safe and healthy 🤗

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Chris Quisenberry
        April 6, 2020 at 8:48 pm

        Would fireplace ashes work ?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Jayne Finkbohner
      April 6, 2020 at 1:08 pm

      Thank you! Great tip, I’m going to give this a good ole try myself!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 6, 2020 at 4:43 pm

      I have used mayo on a white water ring on my dining table. I worked very well. I still see it some (maybe I didn’t rub/buff enough), but it is not noticeable to others. The table was my grandmother’s and needs refinishing, but perhaps I will try mayo on the entire top now!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Fellow DIYer
      April 6, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      I would think this is going to be a problem as the oil turns rancid. You can’t oil your wood cutting boards with cooking oil, it will turn rancid. That’s why we use hemp, mineral or tung oil to hydrate the wood.
      And if there is an old finish on the wood, say poly, that forms a plastic type barrier, the oil is only on that surface. It can’t soak in.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 6, 2020 at 11:06 pm

        Hm. Does it make a difference the kind of oil? I wouldn’t use canola oil even to cook with (heck, it’s already super processed, rancid and bleached!) But do use coconut oil on cutting boards/food prep tools since it’s already antimicrobial and food safe.
        I don’t know, just thinking. Maybe the egg makes a difference as a binder?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Been doing this for years and it’s always worked. For any deep or hard to repair scratches add cigarette ashes to the mayo and work in. Believe it or not it covers them really well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:24 am

    I had to laugh when i read this! My husband did this to fake plants in an office building he had as an account in his janitorial business. They looked GREAT. Several weeks later he got a call from the building manager saying there was an awful smell in the lobby (where plants are). Long story short……….The mayonaise went BAD and he had to wash all plants by hand. Lesson learned… goes bad…!!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Kristi, I have used mayo for years for water marks on tables but never for scratches and dings. Will try that when I need to, thanks for the tip.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Funny refinishing tricks: microwaved nuts rubbed into scratches (from today’s homeowner), & a variety of oils (go for kinds that don’t go rancid…because it might start to build up and smell)

    Got a friend with an Ikea Dining table that had little finish so he treated it like a big chopping block (he was a butcher once for some bucks). It’s good to know, he abuses his possessions more often so they wear out and break. Since he takes the time out to oil the table every so often, most of the damage gets repaired and hidden. He still has this table 10+years later. There might be more to it like letting it soak for a period, then wiping up excess because there is never a sticky residue from it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:30 am

    I have heard of this. Years ago my mother had a man come to the house to repair the top of a rather new chest of drawers that had been discolored by hairspray that had seeped from the bottom of a defective can. The master refinisher used mayonnaise and cigar ash.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:30 am

    I remember doing this a long time ago on rings on a wooden coffee table. it worked.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 11:40 am

    A+ to your mom for creativity!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Julie S
    April 6, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Strange!! I would be so nervous of a mayonnaise smell either immediately or later. I’ve had similar results on old scratched up wood using Restor-A-Finish and General Finishes gel stain – both used lightly and buffed on well during application. I’d do either of those before attempting mayo!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kate S
    April 6, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Ah-oh! Kristi is going to start a run in Mayo! 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Martha K Gish
    April 6, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Yes, I have heard of this years ago…an old time remedy in these parts. I never did it though…. Looks great!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve used mayo on watermarks but never on scratches. I just gave it a try on my dining table which has some small scratches from kitten claws. Mayo had no effect on those scratches but the table does look nice and shiny!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve used vaseline for scratches, and that works pretty good.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    My Mom (now age 90) would do this on her mahogany furniture — it took away the white rings from water or heat, and the scratches from us kids. Sometimes, she’d use ashes, too. They acted as a mild rubbing compound. Gosh, I haven’t thought of this in years.
    Sometimes old ways can be new again. Thanks for the memories.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    I will be interested to see how long it lasts. Also, if it is the fat in the mayo, full fat mayo would be best for this project.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    I have a white spot …from heat, I think. Not water. I tried the mayo but it didn’t work. Maybe I didn’t rub hard enough.
    If you have any ideas to remove a heat spot…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Oh…your mom’s tables look spectacular!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    Very interesting! I’ve never heard that it will take away scratches but my grandmother used to use mayo to clean her wooden table and sideboard a couple times a year. Guess I know why now!! LOL I always thought it was weird but the outcome was always very nice.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve heard of this but never tried it myself! My granny used to do this and that’s been many many years go!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chelle Ellis
    April 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Rubbing a Walnut on the scratches also works well. My fave though is Restor-A-FInish. Easy peezy lemon squeezy (in keeping with the food finishing theme).

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    Love the way your Mom’s table turned out!! Great job!! I buy and sell antiques for a living for 25 + years and my absolute favorite item I keep on hand is Tibet Almond Stick to remove scratches instantly. It costs around $10.00 give or take. It never goes bad, doesn’t smell, doesn’t require muscle and works great. You can Google to find or Ace hardware ships free to stores. So those that are afraid of mayo try this instead.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 9, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      what do you do for antique tables that have scratches and have those small raised areas near the seams were spills have damaged the top layer of wood? I have an antique dining room set that I love and have been thinking I might need to get it refinished.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Hi! Not exactly the same issue, but does anyone know how to fix scratches on dark brown leather? Thanks ladies! I’m going to try the mayo on my kitchen table which is covered in dings from 2 boys who are now 17 and 19! Love your blog Kristi!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Nancy H.
    April 6, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    I have used mayonnaise for years to “fix” problems on wooden furniture. It has never failed me.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen Shook
    April 6, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    I have done this! Someone might have spilled gin on my bar which is actually a French sideboard, and it left some strange dull spots. So I read about this mayo thing, tried it, and it works! Your Mom’s tables are very nice. I certainly wouldn’t get rid of them because think of all the memories connected with them. Of course, I am rather sentimental like that.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 6, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    I used this years ago on a wood top that had a bad water mark from a plant leaking. It made the white watermark completely disappear. I was amazed. Not sure where I heard about it. I think it is the oils in the mayo that do the trick.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brad W.
    April 8, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    I seem to remember my grandmother rubbing walnuts over her dings, dents and scratches on her wood furniture. It worked well!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 9, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    WOW!! That’s amazing!!! Could you explain a little more about HOW you (your mother) accomplished this? i.e., how much mayo to use, how you apply it – do you use a rag, sponge, how much rubbing does it take? do you even rub? I have a cocktail table I’d like to try it on. Thanks

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 9, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    I know you’re busy working on your mom’s kitchen and all, but… is everything okay at your house? It’s been over a month with no picture or mention of it, and that just feels weird to me.

    Hope all is well–with the house and your family, especially with all this Covid craziness.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 13, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Haven’t seen you in over a week and with the current situation myself, and I am sure others, hope no one is sick with the virus. Looking forward to hearing from you when you can. Just know you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Paula Anthis
      April 14, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      I, too, have become concerned for you and Matt! Praying for you both and all your extended family! You two are special to so many of us!!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 15, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      Yes same concerns from here in Australia… thinking of you all Kristi

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful tip, and best wishes, Kristi – hope you and yours are doing well 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 14, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Miss you Kristi. I hope everything is okay. Stay safe.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 15, 2020 at 6:42 am

    It’s been awhile. Missing you. Thinking of you.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 16, 2020 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Kristi,
      I’m echoing similar thoughts…I hope you and your family are all ok in this time!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 15, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Ive been thinking about you and Matt. Please let us know if there is anything we can pray for. I hope you are well❤.
    I miss you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 15, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Ditto from another Sheryl – hoping your family is okay and you are just taking a break. Miss hearing from you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 15, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Checking on all my friends – near and far away – and you’re one of those. Hope you and yours are well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 16, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Hope all is well and all are safe!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Linda H
    April 16, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Hi Kristi,
    Hope you and Matt, mom and rest of family are okay and well. Thinking of you and missing you. Stay safe!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 16, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    I too am a little worried about you Kristi. It’s unusual for you to not post for 10 days. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 16, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Kristie, I am also worried and concerned for you, Matt and your families. I truly hope you are both well and just needed a little break.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 16, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Missing you. Praying all is well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tammy (Pa.)
    April 17, 2020 at 10:49 am

    OH MY GOSH Y’ALL…. We all are on the same page…
    I’ve been wondering why I haven’t seen any email blog post from her.
    That’s how I follow her.. I sure hope everyone is okay, I’m worried…!!!
    If anyone finds out anything please let us all know somehow…!!!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 20, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Same thing here. I’ve been checking daily. I know in the past when she’s gone silent, she’s usually updated the top of the post with what’s going on, so I keep checking for that kind of update.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 17, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Thinking of you and yours from Northern Indiana. 💕

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 17, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Missing you and thinking of you from Washington State. Hope you all are safe and well.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 17, 2020 at 5:33 pm

      Thinking of you and your family and hoping you are all safe and well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 20, 2020 at 10:57 am

    We all hope you are well, Kristi. Blessings from Birmingham.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Ditto to all above comments regarding you and Matt and even Cooper. Hope all is well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 20, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    Don’t know if you will get this email, but you have been on my mind lately. Looking at the above, I can see I am not the only one who has been thinking about you. Just sending my thoughts. Hope to hope that all is well and that you are just not posting so as not to violate any physical distancing requirements in your state.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 20, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    Come back! We miss you!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dawn Spencer
    April 21, 2020 at 9:08 am

    I’ve been searching for a way to send an email but couldn’t find anything. I finally thought to look at the comments on the most recent post. So nice to see that I am not the only one wanting to know how you and your family are doing. 🙂 Just wanted to know that you are missed and you and your family are in my prayers.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    judy J
    April 21, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for the quick update! I look forward to new posts. Stay safe and healthy!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Mari in Australia
      April 21, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      Phew! Keep staying safe Kristi and Matt…

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Paula Anthis
      April 21, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      See this update from Kristi at the top of this post… :))
      “Update 4-21-20: Matt and I are fine. Our cats and dog are fine. My mom is fine. My family is fine. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll be back to blogging soon.”

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2020 at 11:44 am

    So very glad to hear you are all okay! We have missed you! Stay safe!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you for the update! I’ve missed you and I’ve been stalking your page for awhile. So glad to hear that you’re well!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Update 4-21-20: Matt and I are fine. Our cats and dog are fine. My mom is fine. My family is fine. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll be back to blogging soo

    so glad to hear everything is okay.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for the update, Kristi. And happy to hear that you’re OK. We need you more than ever!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 27, 2020 at 10:03 am

      Took me forever to see the update. Checking everyday for a new blog posting.
      I wanted to see kitchen finished. However, any kind of posting during this would have been nice.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 23, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Just another thank you for the update. Family and all: stay well. Kristi, we miss the shot of energy and positivity that comes with your posts. Looking forward to resuming the things that bring joy.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Maryann P
    April 23, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Glad you are fine.
    Stay safe-stay sane.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 23, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you and thank goodness for the update, I’ve been concerned about you and your family! At least we know you’re safe, so can stop worrying! Take care, stay safe and healthy, and we’ll look forward to your next post!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Linda Spradling
    April 25, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    So glad you’re all OK, I too have been a little worried and praying for you. Take care

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 27, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Missing you! Look forward to hearing from you again soon!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sarah Thompson
    April 28, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the update Kirsti! We miss you but your real life should take priority when it needs to. Glad you guys are all safe – scary world out there!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Claire Chapman
    April 30, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    Romeo Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo 😉
    Come back – all is forgiven 😉
    Sending much love to you and your family – we miss you Kristi!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 4, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    I have missed you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Trev FOSTER
    April 15, 2021 at 7:42 am

    I have been looking into this type of repair after getting a nice table with some scratches on it. Looking on the web I found this way now I see your post and will be trying this method for sure. Thank you for this.