How To Restore Dry Wood: Project #2

Several months ago I wrote about one of my favorite homemade mixtures for reviving new life into old dry wood, and in particular, wooden items that have some water spots. My post from last fall focused on an old wooden folding table that I wanted to perk up and put to use again in my blogging office and this little homemade trick did not disappoint me.  My little table turned out looking pretty good again and I was a happy camper.

How to restore dry wood

This week I was looking at another little wooden item in my house that needed some sprucing up, and I decided to once again use my go-to homemade mixture to moisturize old dry wood and see what it could do.  And once again it worked – and I’m a happy camper!

So even though I’ve shared this recipe once before, I thought it was worth sharing again because it’s such a simple homemade solution that can give some pretty impressive results.

And we all love a good Before-and-After story, right?

How to restore dry wood

The item in question this time was a wooden basket organizer I use on my bathroom counter. Because it’s in the bathroom, it’s prone to getting water splashed on it which had taken its toll on the finish as time went by.  So yes, it was starting to look kind of beat up but I still love my little basket.  It fits perfectly in the space where I use it and I sure didn’t feel like buying something else to replace it. It was worth it to me to see if I could fix it up with my DIY solution.

My DIY Solution To Restore Dry Wood

My homemade mixture uses equal parts of three ingredients:  mayonnaise, lemon juice, and olive oil.  It sounds like a salad dressing, I know!  But these three ingredients do a great job of cleaning and nourishing wood and usually when I use it, all the water spots disappear and the wood looks SO MUCH better than it did before.

Ingredients to make a homemade mixture to restore dry wood

I usually use a tablespoon of each ingredient, but even that makes more than I really need.  You just need to dab the corner of a rag into your mixture and then rub it into the wood.  It doesn’t take much to do the job so you can adjust the recipe to suit the size of your project.  Just remember to use equal parts of each ingredient.

Here’s how to do it:

DIY Wood Restore Moisturizer


  • 1 tablespoon Mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Combine all three ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well to get everything mixed together.

To Use:  Dip the corner of a rag into the mixture and then rub it into the wood.  Use a rag you don’t care about using again, or that you can just dedicate to this purpose, as this mixture has oily ingredients and might not wash out to your satisfaction if you use your most favorite cleaning cloth.

Here’s a few Before-and-After pictures so you can see how this mixture works:

A close-up side view . . . 

How to restore dry wood


A little different angle from the side . . . 


How to restore dry wood


And a look at the entire basket . . .

How to restore dry wood

I think that first close-up view shows it the best   🙂

Now my little basket is back in our bathroom again, keeping us organized, and giving us a place to keep some often used things (That’s where I keep my homemade glycerin moisturizing spray and my homemade eyeglass cleaner! ~ tee hee ).

restore dry wood basket 6

So if you’ve got some sort of wooden item or doo-dad around the house that’s seen it’s better days, show it a little love first with this homemade mixture before you just quickly toss it out.  You don’t have much to lose by mixing up a bit of mayo, lemon juice, and olive oil, and chances are you’ll be amazed at the results!

How to restore dry wood

And if you’d like to read more about the first story I shared on this subject, here’s the link to that folding table restoration project:

Homemade Help To Restore Dry Wood Project #1



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  1. This looked amazing. So glad I found the post. I was wondering if you have a homemade solution that has worked for severely itchy dog?
    thanks in advance.

    1. Unfortunately I don’t have any home remedies for itchy dogs as I’ve never been a dog owner (I’m more of a cat person). Sorry I can’t be of help on that one.

  2. This worked like a dream on two pieces that had been in my attic for over 25 years and had been in my family for over 100!!! Thanks so much! I am thrilled!!!!!

  3. I have dry old wood restore to be used on barn doors. During the plaining of the wood the ridge around know has raised will this mixture help with smooth then before putting on polyurethane.

  4. I have used your mixture on badly water stained wood in church and it looks wonderful. How long does the mixture last in a sealed container, during work-in-progress which may take weeks to restore lots of items

    1. I’m so glad the homemade wood restore mixture has worked well for items in your church! I have never kept the mixture after using it so I’m not sure how long it may keep. My only suggestion might be if you do want to try keeping it a little longer, to keep it in the refrigerator because of the mayonnaise in the mixture. If it’s kept in the refrigerator, my guess would be that it would keep OK for a few weeks.

  5. Oh my! I just used this mixture on a wooden antique statue that was dirty and very dried out. It has rescued it, and breathed new life !

    1. I think it would definitely be worth a try. I’ve had good success with any dry wood that I’ve tried this mixture on so I think you would see positive results on your wreath if you give it a try too.

  6. I have louver doors from 1984 that do not have water spots, but just look dry. Does this work on doors that have been varnished?

    1. Yes, I think you could use this treatment on those doors that have been stained and varnished and you should see improvement.

  7. You have to be careful in your choice of moisturizers as over the years or sooner depending on climate the oils will turn rancid. You are better to stick to the mineral oil, tung oil, etc oil selections and pass on the mayo olive oil…the mineral and tung and a few others will not spoil on your wood

  8. Ugh! Furniture refinishers have warned about using things like mayonnaise and olive oil on furniture! It might work well, but you’re using items that go rancid–mayonnaise is egg ingredients!

  9. Brilliant!! I can’t believe how well it has worked and no need to go and buy a specialist product.😀👍

    1. I have not because I have painted cabinets, but I think it you have stained wooden cabinets it would definitely be worth a try!

  10. After I restore some moisture to the dried wood, can I paint it? I am 70 years old and I have my rocking chair from when I was three years old. The wood is very very dry. I want to paint it red like it was when I used it as a little girl.

    1. Actually I think sanding and priming might be more beneficial prep work for your old rocking chair if you intend to paint it. This homemade mixture is more useful for making stained wood look moisturized again.

  11. Wow! I just made the mixture and tried it on my very old (100 years plus) oak sideboard. The wood was very dried out and over the years tried many things on it. I am about half way through and it looks great.
    Thank you so much for the tip which I will pass along to friends!

  12. I love this recipe!! Can you paint the surface after this treatment? I found a great old rocking chair on the side of the road. It’s clearly been living outside for a LONG time—it’s REALLY dry. I’m removing the old paint and would like to refinish it with a natural finish instead of paint. Would this treatment work?

    1. The mixture soaks in and so it is not like food is setting on the surface of the wood. I have never had a problem with it attracting bugs.

  13. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I’m going to try it. I have a very old, very dry 2 tier antique table that I am going to chalk paint most of it. However the tops of both tiers have a clover like area with an etched flower pattern around them which is extremely dry and chipping/flaking, and has water rings. I’m hoping to stain the clover inset versus painting it but I think it needs moisture first. I’ll let you know how it works! However, I have an old cedar chest that looks like your basket. I’m eager to try your recipe on that! It may save me a lot of sanding and staining! Will let you know how that turns out too! Thanks-I’m excited to try it out!

    1. I think you could certainly give it a try. However most wood floors have sealants, so I’m not sure if the mixture will be able to soak in.

  14. I love your recipe! I was given an old, very inexpensive oak bookcase that had been neglected for years in a garage. I would like to use it to store quilting books and magazines. I am concerned about how these items would fare on surfaces treated with your marvelous concoction. I look forward to hearing from you. — Rita

    1. After you apply this mixture it soaks into the wood and dries and will not let off on anything that is set on the surface. I would wait a few hours before you put anything on the shelves of your bookcase, but after that, it should be just fine!

  15. This worked beautifully on my 100 year old window sills. Any suggestions on how to keep my dogs from licking the wood? 🤣🤣🤣 I took before and after pics if you want them.

    1. Thank you for this! My daughter in law cleaned my wooden table with a dish rag and soap on Xmas eve. My table was dull ..looked terrible. I googled for help…found you and tried it. To my worked and is restored to shining beauty!

    1. I think you could use this mixture on an exterior door and you will see good results. However if it is exposed to the elements, the benefit might not last. That being said, perhaps you could just regularly give the door a treatment with the DIY mixture whenever it looks like it is needing it again, and it would probably still be a very frugal solution to your problem!

  16. I have some very old pieces of furniture and this looks like a good idea, but wondering if this has to be be reapplied often to old, dry, very brittle wood? And how often would you suggest? They are pieces from the mid and late 1800’s.

    1. You probably will see after several weeks (maybe even a month or two) that the wood may look a little dry again. I have found that reapplying it again at that time seems to be OK. However I also think that the wood still looks better than when I gave it the first treatment and just needs a little pick up again.

      I have never worked with pieces as old as yours though. I would give it an initial application and see how long you see the benefits of it. If it quickly dries out again, maybe it’s not the best solution for those pieces. But if you do see several weeks of benefit from it and it only needs a little perk up again, I think it would be OK to proceed with more applications of the mixture as needed as time goes on.

  17. Thank you! Result was fantastic. Tried rejuvenate &
    No result. Living in s California the sun dries out my
    Furniture. Made a second batch & used it on all my
    Bedroom set. Can’t thank you enough for this great

    1. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to have found this recipe. I so wanted to share my before and after pictures with you! I have an antique chifforobe that I have neglected for years. I honestly thought it would need to go to a refurbisher and “cost an arm and a leg”. I decided to give your recipe a try. The first coat soaked into the wood quickly and the piece began to renew. As quickly as it was absorbed I decided to do it again. Every time it looks better. I have considered reapplying until it stops absorbing the mix. Would that be advisable? Oh, I am also glad the ingredients are food grade. Our Malinois loves it! I have to scold him for licking the mixture from the furniture.

  18. Hi ?
    Thank you for your great recipe.
    I am just wondering if you can use real lemon juice instead of the bottle stuff and if it matters which mayonnaise you use?

  19. I want to try this on an old piece of furniture (end table) that has been in my attic for years and is extremely dry. I then want to “chalk paint” it. How long do I wait for the oil to dry before being able to paint the table? Is it safe to paint on after the oil treatment?

    1. My first thought is that the area being covered with the chalk paint would not need the wood restoring mixture on it because it is just being covered up with the paint anyway. Are you just chalk painting the top surface? If so, I would do the wood restore on the other surfaces and then let it set for a day. Then I would sand the top surface, and do the chalkboard paint. I hope your project turns out super cute if you give it a try!

  20. I’ve always been told using mYo or olive oil will turn rancid and smell and possibly mold. Do you wipe it off, or wash it after applying? Have you had any issues with this? Thanks.

    1. No, I’ve never had a problem even though these are food products. I’ve never had mold or smells. You just rub it around on the wood, kind of wiping off any excess as you go.

    2. I was thinking the same thing. I was into poker chips for a bit and they advised against food grade oils to rub on the chips to give them a look like hand oils are on them from use. Only use mineral oil cause of the food rancid smell thing. But in thinking about this the acidity of the lemon is prolly what prevents this.