Skip to Content

DIY Lemon-Coconut Oil Natural Wood Restorer


Welcome to the first installment of Frugal Homemade!

DIY Lemon Coconut Oil Natural Wood Restorer

Today I am bringing you DIY Lemon-Coconut Oil wood restorer, which I created to make my abused antique table look better without spending a bunch of money, stinking up the house, or using a product I am not familiar with and risking damage to the old table which we are quite fond of.

Our natural cherry Harden dining table is about 80 years old and we’ve had it for eight. I am not sure how it was treated in its previous homes, and it was not perfect when we got it, but it has been abused in the second half of the time we’ve owned it. This is mainly due to the smallest member of the family, who happens to be four. Lately the dryness, from cleaning as well as sunshine, has been bothering me. After a bit of digging, I came up with this concoction and am very happy with the results.

table before treatment

This is natural wood, so it is not sealed, just oiled or waxed to bring out the color. As it is cleaned, the oil or wax gradually wears off, making it look bad and dry out more. The right side above is dried out slightly less than it appears in the picture, the extra lightness being due to the sun shining in the window. We don’t really go for table cloths, but believe it or not, we do use place mats. But the range of a toddler at the table, as it turns out, is well beyond the dimensions of any mat. And of course it got this way gradually so it was hard to really see what was happening before it was too late.

table stuff

I decided on these ingredients, mostly because I had them on hand. I needed to use up the little bit in this tub of coconut oil that has been sitting forever since I stopped cloth diapering and making wipes solution with it. It also seemed like the richness of it was just what the table needed. From what I have read, people have had success with all kinds of oil, from canola to olive, so this definitely isn’t the only option. But coconut oil has tons of uses, so it isn’t a bad thing to have around the house. The LouAna I had was inexpensive and sold at most grocery stores (and I have noticed it on sale at the Centrella stores a lot lately). Additionally, Amazon is a great place for high quality coconut oil. Right now, you can get a two pack of 15 oz jars of Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin coconut oil for under $16, even less if you do Subscribe & Save. Vinegar is a common choice for cleaning-type applications, so I thought it would be a safe bet here, and added lemon juice because it is also a good cleaner, but also for the lovely scent.

before shake

I went with 2 parts oil to 1 part each lemon juice and vinegar. Add that to a sealable container and shake it until emulsified. Pour some of the mixture onto a soft cloth and rub into the wood. It is a good idea to follow the grain, most importantly as you finish treating it.

table after treatment

It still isn’t perfect, partially because it could probably use another treatment, and partially because of the previously existing imperfections. But I am so happy with how this table is looking as an octogenarian after having a rough stretch of years.

Be sure to check back each week for something new! I will be bringing you how-tos, advice, and articles on everything pertaining to easy frugal living: From DIY, to recipes, to practical tips and tricks. To help balance out the couponing and deal chasing we do a lot of here, I’ll talk about easy ways to incorporate frugality into everyday life and to do more from scratch.

Steve F.

Saturday 19th of July 2014

Mineral oil will work on the table instead of coconut oil. The coconut oil might go rancid, whereas the mineral oil is what is used on butcher block cutting boards. Just a thought.


Saturday 19th of July 2014

Going rancid is definitely an important thing to consider when working with various oils. In this application, however, I don't think it would be an issue. Coconut oil takes a very long time to go rancid, much longer than other food oils. Also, since this is a table we clean regularly, the oil will be worked out of the table periodically.


Saturday 19th of July 2014

What kind of mineral oil do you suggest Steve?


Friday 18th of July 2014

Thank you for posting this! I am looking forward to more posts like this one. The chemical cleaners really bother me. Anyway, I would be careful with the steam iron treatment mentioned above. My dining table is quite old and it's top, I believe, is a real wood veneer. I actually ruined it by steam ironing some curtains on top without putting anything else between the fabric and the table top. I still can't believe I did that, because I am usually the careful one in my family. So I have the dreaded white marks, but mine are in the shape of an iron... I need to try this coconut/lemon/vinegar mix, and see what happens!


Friday 18th of July 2014

Maggie...My table had the same issue. I googled a solution and found that actually using a staem iron worked!! I couldnt believe it but when i saw all of the people that swore by it i tried it. Look it up as I dont remember the exact specifics, but it was amazing. I believe you put a cloth betweeen the table and iron. Good luck


Thursday 17th of July 2014

Rachel how did you use the coconut oil for cloth diapers and wipe solution, im expecting my second child and would love to make my own solution.


Friday 18th of July 2014

My name is neither Rachel, nor Trish, but when we dealt with kids and cloth diapers, I would just use a warm wash rag for cleanup (my kids HATED cold stuff down there, who can blame them?), and if there was a rash forming, I'd have some coconut oil in a bowl in the drawer under the changing table, so I could rub on some. I bought separate wash rags for this purpose, so they would not get mixed in with the regular laundry, even though I did put them in the wetbag with the diapers.


Thursday 17th of July 2014

I may be a little rusty since it has been about two years since I made it, but I think I made four cups at a time, starting with hot water, then adding 2 TB of coconut oil, 1 TB baby wash (I used the California Baby head to toe wash), four drops of tea tree oil (antibacterial), and about eight drops of lavender essential oil (scent). My routine was to wet the wipes and stock the cloth-wipe specific wipes warmer every few days, but you can also keep the solution in a spray bottle and wet each wipe as needed. You should look around though, because there are TONS of solution recipes and you can also tailor it to your preferences. I loved cloth diapering - talking about this makes me want to have another kid!


Thursday 17th of July 2014

This wasn't me -- this was Trish, who will be writing this weekly Frugal Homemade post for us, but I'm sure she will pop over soon and answer :)


Thursday 17th of July 2014

To get the "ghost ring" white marks off the table, mix equal parts toothpaste and baking soda. Rub in circular motions into white stain. Wipe with clean dry cloth. My cherry coffee table is good as new after a hot pizza box left a white stain- it's the steam from the box pulling up the stain from the wood.