How to Remove Citristrip Residue (Dried On): 6 Ways

Prepping the surface you’ll be painting an important part of the painting process. Cirtristrip is a highly effective way to remove old paint or stain. 

However, one of the most unfortunate drawbacks of Citristrip is it can be difficult to clean off furniture. Once dried, Citristrip leaves a tough, hardened residue that can’t easily be removed with soap and water. 

Often, relatively stronger solutions than soap and water are needed to remove the gunk. In this post, we’ll explore how to remove Citristrip residue.


Dried Citristrip residue can be removed with the following products: 

  • Mineral spirits
  • Klean Strip Paint Stripper After Wash
  • Citristrip or other paint strippers
  • Sandpaper
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Vinegar 

Citristrip Left on Too Long? Here’s What Happens if Citristrip Dries

If you wait around 25 minutes for the Citristrip to do its magic, it shouldn’t be difficult to remove along with the underlying paint or stain. A simple putty knife or wire brush can get the job done. But your painting stripping project can become much more challenging when Citristrip is left on too long. 

When Citristrip is left on for too long it dries and adheres to the surface strongly. It can leave a sticky residue after stripping that hardens as time goes on. There is a window of about 25 minutes to an hour to leave the Citristrip on before it starts to harden considerably. Of course, the climate and humidity play a role in how fast it hardens as well. 

Just soap and water might not be enough. You may need to use another material that’s effective enough to remove the Citristrip residue.

So if you’re going to use Citristrip or any other chemical strippers, don’t leave it on the surface for too long. However, if you prep your furniture by wrapping it in cling wrap, you can prevent your Citristrip from drying out. If you’re treating multiple layers of super tough paint or stain, you can leave the Citristrip on overnight to sufficiently break down the paint.

How To Remove Citristrip Residue (6 Methods You Can Use)

Method 1: Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits is an excellent way to remove hardened Citristrip residue. Mineral spirits (available here on Amazon) can dissolve Citristrip, allowing it to be easily wiped away. However, it may require multiple applications for thick layers of dried Citristrip.

To remove dried Cistristrip using mineral spirits, pour a small amount of mineral spirits onto a cloth and wipe down the Citristrip-covered surface. The dried Citristrip will eventually dissolve and can then be easily wiped away. 

Gently scrub the surface as you go with putty knife or steel wool to break up the dried Citristrip residue. Use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe away the loose residue and underlying paint or stain. Repeat this process as many times as you need.

Once you’re done removing any Citstrip residue, clean the surface with soap and water. This will remove any excess mineral spirits on the surface.

Method 2: Klean Strip Paint Stripper After Wash

Klean Strip Paint Stripper After Wash (available here on Amazon) is a product that’s specifically made to remove paint stripper residue (such as Citristrip residue). It’s a fast-acting formula that evaporates quickly without residue. It can also be easily applied with a rag or paper towel. 

If you need a very effective paint stripper residue remover, this is your best choice.

To use this product to remove dried Citristrip, transfer a small amount to a metal container. Dip a rag or stripping pad onto the product, and rub it back and forth on the affected area. Use a separate rag or stripping pad to wipe away the loose residue. Repeat this process as many times as you need.

Once done, clean the surface with soap and water.

Do note that while this product is very effective, it’s hazardous and releases strong fumes. Wear safety gear such as gloves and goggles when using this product. Ensure your work area is well-ventilated, and keep the product away from anything that can produce an open flame.

Method 3: More Citristrip (or Other Paint Stripper)

If you still have any Citristrip left, you can use it to remove dried Citristrip. It’s fairly easy to do too! You only need to apply a new layer of wet Citristrip (available here on Amazon) over the affected areas.

Let the new layer soak for a minimum of 20 minutes, then try scraping off the dried Citristrip. If it’s not scraped off easily, you may need to wait for a few more minutes. Just make sure that the new layer of Citristrip stays wet and doesn’t dry up.

Once done, clean the surface with mineral spirits to remove any greasy residue left by the paint stripper. Then, clean the surface with soap and water.

Method 4: Sanding

While it’s more labor-intensive, sanding is another method you can use to remove dried Citristrip. You’d need sandpaper with a coarser grit (80 or 100 grit) for thicker layers of dried Citristrip. You’d also need sandpaper with a finer grit (120 or 150 grit) for final smoothing. 

Also, since you’ll be dealing with sand dust, it’s recommended that you wear at least safety gloves and a mask. This will reduce the risk of inhaling sand dust.

Sand the affected area to remove the dried Citristrip residue. Do it in a circular or back-and-forth motion, applying moderate pressure. This will gradually remove the Citristrip residue, but it can take time for thick layers. Do not sand too aggressively to avoid damaging the underlying surface.

Once in a while, stop and inspect the surface to gauge if there’s still residue left. If there still is, continue sanding until all of it is removed.

When done, clean the surface with a clean cloth or vacuum cleaner to remove any sand dust or debris generated during sanding.

Method 5: Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is another material that’s effective for removing dried Citristrip. It’s also a great material to use for cleaning a surface. 

As a safety precaution, wear gloves when using denatured alcohol (available here on Amazon) to remove dried Citristrip. Also, make sure that your work area is well-ventilated.

Pour denatured alcohol onto a clean cloth or rag to moisten it. Gently rub the cloth or rag onto the affected area. Let the denatured alcohol sit there for a few minutes to dissolve and loosen the dried Citristrip. 

Then, use a soft brush or cloth to scrub the Citristrip residue. This will loosen the dried Citristrip some more, making it easy to wipe away. Using a clean cloth or sponge, wipe off the loose Citristrip residue. Repeat this whole process as many times as you need.

Once you’re done removing all the Citristrip residue, clean the surface with soap and water.

Method 6: Clean Citristrip with Vinegar

Ah, good ol’ vinegar (available here on Amazon). This ever-reliable household item is extremely versatile and can even be used to remove Citristrip residue. And the best thing about vinegar is that it’s cheap and accessible! You probably have a bottle in your kitchen right now.

To use vinegar to remove dried Citristrip, soak a cloth with the vinegar and wipe down the Citristrip-covered surface. Resoak the cloth with vinegar as you go. Let the vinegar sit on the surface for a few minutes so it can break down the Citristrip. 

Then, using a soft brush or plastic scraper, gently scrub or scrape the area to break down and remove the dried Citristrip. Once finished, clean the surface with a damp cloth to remove any remaining vinegar and Citristrip residue.

Note, that although vinegar is convenient, it’s the least powerful solution on the list. For tough cases of dried-on Citristrip, vinegar isn’t ideal. 

How to Neutralize Citristrip?

There are a ton of ways to neutralize Citristrip such as mineral spirits, and denatured alcohol. One effective method is to wash the surface with a mixture of baking soda and water (with a ratio of 1:10, 1 part baking soda for every 10 parts water).

As a safety precaution, wear rubber gloves. Dip a clean rag with the baking soda solution and scrub the surface in circular motions. This should remove the remaining Citistrip residue.

When you’re done neutralizing Citristrip, rinse the surface with running water and dry it with a clean dry cloth.

How to Clean Up Citristrip From Brushes

Removing Citristrip from brushes is a similar affair to removing excess paint. 

Scrape off the excess residue using a scraper or putty knife. Then, rinse the brush under warm water. Let the brush soak in warm water for a while, stirring occasionally. This should remove any loose residue from the brush.

Remove the brush from the water. Then, wash it with soap and water. Use your fingers to work the soap into the bristles, or you can use a brush comb. Rinse the brush under warm water to remove any soap residue.

Repeat the above process as needed.

If the Citristrip has dried on the brush, use mineral spirits instead of warm water, and a rag or paper towel instead of soap and water.

Once done cleaning, air-dry your brush. To help maintain its shape, you may wrap it in heavy paper secured with a string or rubber band.


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