How to Clean Vintage Formica Table Top


A vintage Formica table is generally made in the 1950s and 1960s. They are still handmade today but much more expensive than they were original. All their products are typically designed to look like wood when it is just paper pressed together. The beauty of this sort of furniture is that you can easily paint it because it does not require any primering beforehand.

How to Clean Vintage Formica Table Top

The biggest problem with these tables is if they have been used for a very long time or have been exposed to heat, sunlight, or moisture at some point during their lifetime, then the Formica may become damaged and start peeling off. In this article, I will discuss how to clean vintage Formica table top. So let us get started.

A Detailed Stepwise Guide on How to Clean Vintage Formica Table Top:

Step One – Assess the Situation

  • Is there just surface dirt? Or does it look like something has spilled onto the piece? If it seems like something was spilled onto the surface, check below for instructions on how to deal with food spills.
 Check if There Is Any Surface Dirt
  • Is your tabletop in good condition? If you see any cracks or chips, it will be harder to make your piece look new again. Here is an excellent tutorial on how to fill in chips and cracks. Please note that if you are planning on selling the work or refinishing it at some point, filling it could affect your end sale price.
  • Take into consideration whether the original finish has color variation throughout because this could affect your restoration efforts depending on what you are trying to achieve.

Step Two – Cleaning the Surface Without Different Color Variations in the Finish

First off, clean your piece using the method of your choice.

  • For this example, I used a standard corn cob media (you can find it at any hardware store). You will need to run this over the top and sides of the tabletop with some light pressure. Using light pressure means that you need to work up and down motion rather than swirl the media onto the surface.
  • Next, take a damp (not wet) cloth or paper towel and wipe off all of the cob media until there is no more residue on the surface. Your goal is to get rid of as much dust as possible at this stage, so you want to make sure you are not leaving any behind. If there are still particles of dust on the surface, continue to the next step.

Step Three – Getting Rid of the Rest of the Dust & Waxing Your Newly Cleaned Surface

  • Take a clean paper towel and wrap it around your finger…
  • Dip it into some white spirit or denatured alcohol and rub onto the Formica until there is no more wax on the newly cleaned surface (it will look as though you have just applied an au natural beeswax polish). Monitor what you are taking off and what is still on top of the table so that you do not remove all of the original finish, which would leave bare Formica.
  • Next, dust the table again to rid it of any residual particles.

Step Four – Cleaning Table Tops With Food Stains

  • For this step, you will need a water and hydrogen peroxide solution. Mix 2 parts hydrogen peroxide with 1 part water in a spray bottle to make your cleaning agent. Spray onto the surface and leave for about 15 minutes to let it soak in before vigorously wiping off with a paper towel or cloth, making sure you are not pushing the stain into the tabletop if possible. Monitor what is coming off on your cloth by holding it up to the light. It should look like mud that is leaving your piece instead of stuck on top, which would mean you need to re-soak and try again.
Cleaning Table Tops With Food Stains
  • The hydrogen peroxide can slightly bleach out the surrounding area, so you may need to do some touch-ups after cleaning.

Step Five – Waxing Your Formica Table Top for Extra Shine & Protection

You can wax your piece with generic beeswax or au natural beeswax polish for extra shine and protection. These polishes are available at any hardware store for $5-$10 depending on size and should include application instructions which I will briefly explain below:

  • First, use a clean cloth or paper towel and dip it into your jar of beeswax (you can get this from the same place where you bought the polish). Next, rub onto the tabletop in a circular motion.
  • Next, take an old shirt or other cloth and buff your piece until it has a beautiful shine to it. Finish up with microfiber to give your tabletop that extra look of modern luxury. Please note that if you are planning on selling this piece at any point, waxing can affect its value depending on what is laid down. Some people prefer their parts to have no wax buildup, while others might consider it more visually appealing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Thing to Clean Formica With?

It is important to know what type of material you are cleaning before deciding on the best thing to clean Formica with.

There are many options for materials that can be used to clean Formica and they vary depending on what type of Formica you have. For example, if your Formica is porcelain, then a porcelain cleaner will work well for it.

A good option for cleaning Formica would be using white vinegar because it removes any dirt or stains from the surface without harming the product in any way.

Can You Use Soft Scrub on Formica?

Soft Scrub is a very effective cleaner that can be used on Formica, but it is not recommended to use it on Formica because it may leave scratches.

You Should Try Using Another Cleaning Product Such as :

1. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

2. Clorox Bleach-free Wipes

3. Lemon and salt

Is There a Polish for Formica?

There is no word for Formica in Polish. It’s called ‘Formica’ because it was first made by the Formica company, but it doesn’t have a specific name in Polish.

Can Gel Gloss Be Used on Formica?

Gel Gloss is a type of paint that has been designed to be used on both natural and man-made surfaces.

Gel Gloss Is a Type of Paint

The best way to find out if Gel Gloss can be used on Formica is by testing it in an inconspicuous area first. If you are able to remove the paint with a solvent, then this product should work well for your application.


I hope this article has helped learn how to clean vintage Formica table top. Always use authentic materials for cleaning purposes. Thank you and have a nice day!

Our another article – How to Fix Bubbled Wood Table

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