How To Remove Paint from Vintage Hardware Without Chemicals

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Guess what?! I learned how to remove old paint from vintage hardware without using chemicals! 

Last week, I was feeling pretty good about myself when I posted this photo on the Serendipity Refined Facebook Page:

I had figured out that I could remove old, dried on paint using steel wool. I was feeling pretty good about myself. I thought that I had figured it out. But let me tell you....I didn't! Behind the Purple door wrote a comment that said: "Or just simmer them in water and baking soda."

                                                                                                        and I thought Huh!?  Really??!

I told her that I was going to try it.  But it wasn't exactly hooks that I needed to strip.  It was cold air returns and registers. You see, I'm learning the joys of living in a 60+ year old home...things like having "non-standard" register covers. I found out that I can't just run out to the hardware store and buy nice new ones.

Well, I could but then I'd need to cut all of the baseboard openings in the whole house because the new ones are about half an inch wider than the old ones (even tough the duct work opening  is still the same size.)  Who knew?!

I have a bunch of them. Two (or more)  in every room and they are GROSS!

Covered with years of dirt and grime and strange colors of paint to the point that I had to remove some of them by cutting them with a box cutter first. The guys who came to clean the duct work blew them off with their compressor but I have to admit, it didn't help much.

So, I got out an old enamel canning kettle, dumped in a box of baking soda and filled it up with hot water. I threw in a register...and the plug cover from the dining room. Then, I put them  on the stove to "cook".

I watched the water bubble and turn murky.  After about 20 minutes, I put on some oven mitts and flipped the vent over. Let me just tell you right now that I could not believe my eyes when I saw it!

The paint was literally falling off  of the vents. Honest to Murphy!

Sixty years of paint and grime...gone. Without chemicals! I did a little happy dance...right there in my new kitchen...wearing oven mitts and holding a scraper! I'm pretty sure that  if the neighbors saw it, they're probably wondering what kind of woman moved into the house on the corner.

I used a putty knife and stiff nylon brush to clean them but to tell you the truth, the baking soda and hot water did most of the work.  After they dried, I sprayed them with white satin spray paint. They look almost as good as new. The best part, I used about $5 worth of baking soda and some hot chemicals!

So, there you go! Removing 60 years of old paint using nothing but baking soda and hot water! No nasty chemicals, no cutting the base board in my house and they actually WORK now that they're not painted shut.

Next, I've gotta figure out how to open the windows all of which are currently PAINTED SHUT!

Linking to:
Cedar Hill Ranch
Jennifer Rizzo