removing mod podge from wood

Now, you’re faced with removing Mod Podge from wood before you begin your project.

If you are beginning to redo furniture, just bought some vintage wood, or want to renovate a craft, you might have noticed that the paper on it is stuck to the wood with Mod Podge.

This strong crafting glue can be extremely frustrating to remove without damaging the wood. So, how do you remove Mod Podge from wood?

To successfully remove Mod Podge from wood, you need to soak the wood and scrape off any excess paper. Then you can clean the wood and sand it if necessary.

You can get old Mod Podge off of wood in five simple steps. The only materials you’ll need are a rag, some water, and sandpaper.

Here is your guide on removing Mod Podge from wood without destroying it.

Removing Mod Podge from Wood

removing the mod podge

Mod Podge or any other kind of decoupage paint is popular for a wide variety of crafts and projects.

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Because it is a very versatile bonding material, you’ll find it on wood, glass, and fabric.

Mod Podge is notoriously difficult to remove from any material, especially when it’s dry. This is because it’s meant to last for a long time.

The glue sticks to the material and creates a powerful bond as it dries.

While Mod Podge is difficult to clean off of anything, it's tough to clear from wood. This is because the glue bonds well with the grain of the wood. 

Fabric or paper glued to wood will last incredibly long with Mod Podge, making it difficult to remove just like super glue!

If you’re redoing old furniture, knowing how to get Mod Podge off without damaging the wood is essential.

Steps to Remove Mod Podge from Wood:

Here are the easy steps for removing the mod podge easily from wood:

Step #1: Soak It in Water

soak in water

The first step is to soak the stained area in water.

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Mod Podge tends to deactivate when soaked in water, so it will be much easier to remove once the water is gone.

This will also help dissolve anything attached to the wood, like wallpaper or fabric.

When you soak the wood in water, always check the quality of the wood.

Don’t put an old piece of wood in a bowl of water: it could leave a stain or tear the grain of the wood apart.

Instead, only cover the affected area and any extra materials with a wet rag.

Tip: Ensure you protect the wood itself when you soak the affected area.

To avoid wood damage, it’s best to soak a rag or towel in warm water and place it on the affected area.

That way, you won’t leave pools of water to drip into the wood, and you’ll be able to loosen the glue.

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Step #2: Let It Sit

let sit in water

This step might be the easiest for you: you have to wait for the water to loosen the chemicals in the Mod Podge.

It won’t happen quickly. Once Mod Podge dries, it wants to stay put. However, you’ll see results after a while. Leave the rag on the furniture or craft for thirty minutes to an hour.

You can check it occasionally to ensure that the wood isn’t getting stained, but you will likely have to restain or paint the wood anyway.

Step #3: Scrape Off The Mod Podge

Once the Mod Podge is entirely soaked, take the rag off and gently scrape the fabric, paper, and excess goo off.

With a very old Mod Podge, you might be able to scrape everything off and essentially peel the entire layer off.

scrape off the glue

However, the newer Mod Podge might require a little more soaking and scraping.

If it hasn’t aged out of efficacy, it will likely be much more challenging to get off, and you will need to scrape it multiple times.

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You can repeat the process as necessary.

Tip: You can use rubbing alcohol to remove the newly applied Mod Podge before it dries, but be careful not to damage the wood.

If you’re lucky, this step will be the last.

However, it’s more likely that you will still have residue or actual Mod Podge on the wood, and you’ll need to sand it to remove it altogether.

Step #4: Sand the Wood

The method you use to sand the wood depends on what kind of wood you have and how much you need to file away.

If you’re only trying to remove a small Mod Podge stain, you don’t need an entire sanding machine.

sand wood

However, if you’ve just removed wallpaper and Mod Podge from a bookshelf, a large sanding apparatus might be the way to go.

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The simplest (and least expensive) way to sand wood is with sandpaper. Each grade of sandpaper has a different grit, and a higher number will result in smoother wood.

The grit level you choose determines how smooth the wood will be.

You can also use a sander, a more expensive power tool, to sand larger pieces of wood. Unless you’re redoing multiple bookshelves, you probably only need a few pieces of sanding paper.

Once you decide what grit you want, sand the entire piece of wood down by rubbing the sandpaper against the wood in a circular motion.

You will see the Mod Podge come off, along with the finish and the top layer of wood.

Tip: Don't only sand one section of wood– it will leave the whole piece looking lopsided. Make sure it's all even.

Think of sanding as a clean slate–it is a guaranteed way to remove all the Mod Podge and gives you a brand new piece of wood to start a project.

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It’s a necessary step for creating a blank canvas before you begin your work.

Step #5: Wipe it Down

wipe down

Once you’ve sanded the wood, it will retain much of its natural grain and original color, but you will lose any paint or finish.

However, if you planned to refinish the piece of furniture anyway, sanding it would have been a necessary step.

Before doing anything else to the wood, you’ll need to wipe it down. Sanding naturally sites up tiny grains and makes the wood dirtier.

Gently wipe the wood down with a wet rag or rinse it with water. Once it’s dry, your wood will be ready for the next stage of its life.

Tip: You should clean off the wood whether or not you had to sand it!

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions about Mod Podge, here are some of the most common questions and answers from the web.

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faqs about mod podge

We hope that these answer yours and that you can successfully clean your wooden furniture and crafts!

What is Mod Podge?

Mod Podge is a form of decoupage or powerful glue. It’s meant to keep the wallpaper on walls, craft paper on wood, and upholstery on furniture.

Mod Podge is a staple material for many DIY crafts, furniture projects, and household tasks.

Is Mod Podge Permanent?

Mod Podge was created for children but was meant to be a permanent solution for crafting and wallpaper.

Because the glue works so well, it can be challenging to remove, especially from textured or woodgrain surfaces.

Will I Have to Repaint the Wood after Taking Mod Podge Off?

Because of the extreme binding effect that Mod Podge has on wood, you might lose any varnish or paint once you get all of the glue off.

Unfortunately, you might have to repaint the entire piece of wood after cleaning off the Mod Podge.

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So, How Do You Remove Mod Podge From Wood?

While wood is the most complex material to removing mod podge from wood, you can do it.

When removing Mod Podge from wood, you need to soak the wood to reactivate the Mod Podge, scrape the decoupage off, and clean the gunk.

You might need to sand the wood, but it’ll be ready for your next project in no time.

Kristina D
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