Ultimate Guide for Using Orange Oil For Wood

Cleaning wood and conditioning is vital if you want it to keep looking beautiful and durable. People often use chemical cleaners like degreasers for this job. These can not only harm the finish on the wood but the wood itself as well. Instead, you can always use something natural like orange oil. If you haven’t heard about using orange oil for wood before then don’t worry as we’ve got you covered with all the info that you need.

Orange oil is great as a wood cleaner, conditioner, and polisher. Natural orange oil contains limonene, which is great for cleaning wood without damaging its finish. It not only cleans the wood, but if you apply it on unsealed wood, it will also replenish its natural oils. It conditions the surface and lastly polishes the wood too. But it is not a great finish since it does not dry to a film.

There are products in the market that can be used to clean wood. But if you have already applied a finish on the wood and want to clean it, you can always use the boons of nature. Orange oil is one of your options that can be extracted from orange peel. The limonene it contains is harmless and non-toxic, meanwhile branded products might contain harmful toxic chemicals that can damage wood and the finish on it.

Effects of Orange Oil on Wood

Orange oil has some incredible effects on any wood. Here are the most noticeable ones:

Orange Oil as a Wood Cleaner and Polish

So what orange oil does to wood is to clean its surface without the use of abrasives. Wood maintenance is vital for its longevity, as wood is a very durable material if taken care of. You can find wooden furniture as old as 100-200 years old but still, be strong and look amazing. That is because of all the care and maintenance it has been given.

Many times you need to reapply finish to wood over the years. But if you need to do just the routine cleanup and conditioning of wood, there are many polishes available in the market for that. The problem comes in the form of chemical additives in these cleaners. They might harm the finish of the wood with which it was sealed. That is where natural orange oil might be the best option for you.

Degreasers specifically contain strong chemicals to cut down the grease on kitchen wood. Cabinets and kitchen tops require routine cleanups to avoid strong grease build-ups. But using branded cleaners may harm the finish on them. Orange oil is a great degreaser that does not harm the finish on the wood and polishes the surface.

Not to mention you get an amazing aroma and scent of orange afterward if you use natural orange oil. This makes it one of the best cleaners that you can purchase or extract yourself.

Orange Oil as a Treatment for Termite Infestation

Termites can be very dangerous pests and they damage the integrity of the wood. Fortunately, orange oil has a history of being used as a natural way to treat a dry wood termite infestation. People still use it as a non-toxic way to destroy termites that are eating away at people’s homes. 

Though it can only be used to treat dry wood termite infestation and does not affect subterranean termites. So always get an expert opinion before treating the issue by contacting the local pest control. In case it is dry wood termite, you can get orange oil treatment which is non-toxic as it is extracted naturally. It breaks the eggs of these termites and kills them off.

Using Orange Oil to Replenish Wood

Since orange oil is similar to any other natural oil, it can be used to replenish oils in the wood. All wood has natural oils that dry off in a period of time. Once these oils dry, the wood starts cracking. The oils in the wood are not to be mistaken as the water content found when it is freshly cut. Oils retain in the wood for a long time even after all the moisture in it has dried off.

But over the years these oils dry off and it is essential for you to replenish them. This is why people use natural oil finishes, as wood absorbs and soaks it in, replenishing its natural reserves. Orange oil can be used for the same purpose too, but it is poor as a finish since it does not dry to a film like other oils do. Nonetheless, it can polish the wooden surface and give it an amazing luster.

Orange oil can also be used to bring back the luster of a finish that has become dull. It acts as cleaner and polish in this case.


  • Great for cleaning wooden surfaces.
  • Removes grease on wood.
  • Polishes wooden surface.
  • Does not harm the finish that is applied to wood.
  • Replenishes natural oils of wood preventing it from drying off.
  • Can be used to treat a dry wood termite infestation.
  • Leaves a great aroma after use.


  • Does not dry to a film finish.
  • Cannot be used as a finish, only as a conditioner.
  • Does not protect the wood from moisture like other film-based finishes and oils.
  • Cannot treat subterranean termite infestations.
  • Needs to get directly in contact with termites to kill them.
  • Is not food safe and should not be consumed, even if it’s naturally extracted orange oil.

What is Orange Oil Most Used For?

Orange oil is mostly used for kitchen wood, that is cabinets, countertops, and vents. Kitchen wood is mostly the victim of grease build-up due to the oil that evaporates during cooking condensing over it. This is quite common and happens almost everywhere. Even if you install an exhaust over your stove that sucks in any evaporated oil or steam, it can slow down the build-up of grease on kitchen wood but it does not completely avoid it.

This grease build-up is super stubborn and is hard to remove it using just a wet rag. You need to use products like degreasers if you want to clean it up. These degreasers however can damage the finish that was applied to the wood when it was being built. To avoid that you can use orange oil which is natural, non-toxic, and perfect for this utility. It is not as strong but works great as a wood cleaner.

If you feel like there is a grease build-up on any wooden furniture and you need to clean and polish the wood to return its luster, orange oil is great for this application.

How to Apply Orange Oil Onto Wood For Best Effects

If you are using orange oil as a degreaser, then you need to leave it on the wood for a while for it to cut the grease. You can use a spray bottle for this application, just spray it on the wood and leave it on for a minute or two for it to break the grease. After which you can use a clean lint-free rag to wipe off the dirt and grease on the surface along with the oil.

You can repeat this process a number of times if necessary to get desired results. In case the grease build-up is very heavy, you might have to resort to industrial-grade degreasers.

If you just want to use it to condition and clean wood normally, just apply a little onto a rag and wipe it on the surface. Once you feel the wood is clean, you can gently buff the surface with the rag to make it shine.

For termite infestations, it is best to allow professionals to do it. Just tell them you want them to use orange oil instead of a toxic termite killer. If they are experienced with it, they will know how to spray it and inject it into the wood to kill off any termite and destroy their nest.

Best Orange Oil Product

While most products do not contain pure and natural orange oil, just the citrus aroma, the Green Gobbler Cold Pressed Orange Oil contains the D-Limonene which is the main component in orange oil. It is not only a great cleaner for wood but also for other surfaces according to the manufacturers. It also keeps pests at bay, which is a great application for it.

Can Orange Oil be Used as a Finish?

While orange oil replenishes the oils inside the wood and cleans the surface, it does not act as a finish. It is one of those oils that do not dry to a film and can be easily wiped off. Due to that, it cannot protect the wood from external elements like moisture.

Instead of being used as a finish, you can use it as a wood conditioner and replenisher after which you can apply a film finish of your choices like polyurethane or varnish.


Can you use orange oil as a finish?

Orange oil does not dry to a film, so it cannot be used as a finish. Instead, use it before applying a finish to replenish the oils of wood to avoid it from getting overdried and cracked.

Can orange oil be used as a bug repellent?

While orange oil can repel most bugs like termites and ants, it cannot be used as a bug repellent itself. It can help prevent most pests but not all of them.

Is using orange oil on antique furniture safe?

People use orange oil on all kinds of furniture to clean it, including antique furniture. It is less harsh than natural lemon oil which should not be used on furniture that is too old.

Is orange oil a great degreaser?

Orange oil is a natural degreaser that cuts grease without the use of any chemicals that are toxic or harmful. Though for strong grease stains you might want to switch to an industrial-grade degreaser.

Is orange oil edible?

Orange oil itself is not edible and should not be consumed at any cost. Though it can be used in the kitchen and does not contain any harmful chemicals that might fume and cause reactions.

Final Thoughts

Orange oil is a great way to clean off heavy stains on your wooden surfaces. While it is a degreaser, you can use it to clean and maintain other wooden furniture as well. Where other chemical products might damage the finish you have applied on the furniture, orange oil will preserve it. It avoids the need to use abrasives to reapply the previous finish, making it a great option for wood overall. With its conditioning and polishing properties, you can clean and bring the luster back to the previous finish.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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