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Removing dried-on hairspray from furnishings

Q: How do you remove dried-on hair spray from painted bathroom cabinets? I use a squirt spray occasionally, but in the sunlight I’ve noticed glistening spots, especially on the cabinets behind me. I’ve tried warm water and dish soap with no luck.

A: Hair spray spots must be a vexing problem, judging from how often I’m asked about them. It’s been a few years since I’ve addressed the issue, so it’s time to revisit it.

Hair spray is difficult because the various formulas manufacturers use don’t all respond to the same cleaning methods. You may have to try a few cleaners until you hit upon one that removes your particular brand.

These are the suggested cleaners I’ve gathered from chemists, cleaning experts and my own experience:

• A citrus-based solvent such as Goo Gone.

• Ammonia and water.

• Mineral spirits.

• Rubbing alcohol.

• A microfiber cleaning cloth, wet with plain water and wrung out.

• One part fabric softener and two parts water.

• More hair spray. I know that sounds wacky, but if you know what brand of hair spray caused the buildup, you can repeatedly douse the area with the same product to try to soften the dried-on stuff. Wipe off the surface immediately after each application.

Whatever method you try, be sure to test it first in an inconspicuous area to be sure it won’t damage the paint.

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