How to clean wood after a laser engrave burn 🔥

Wood is an amazingly diverse material, perfect for your laser engraving and cutting projects. But one huge disadvantage to using wood is the residue that is left behind after the laser cutting/engraving process, which can leave unsightly marks behind.

So the question is how do you clean laser cut/engraved wood? We use multiple methods:

  1. using hand soap
  2. light sanding
  3. using white vinegar
  4. Marking tape the engraved area
  5. Protect the wood

Method 1: Using a natural hand cleaner

So you’ll want to start by sourcing a hand cleaner that is waterless and has no toxic chemicals or ammonia. A soft brush and some paper towels.

Place some of the hand cleaning detergent onto a soft brush and then use it to gently clean the surface.

Check as you go along to ensure the wood is residue-free using a paper towel to give it one last polish.

Method 2: light sanding

For those of you who are more confident with DIY, we would recommend lightly sanding the engraved area.

Sanding down your product will help remove residue left from the engraving and cutting process providing you with a cleaner and more professional-looking finish.

If sanding down on a flat surface, wrap the sandpaper around a wooden block. Instead of using your hand. It will create a more even finish.

Caution: Don’t use the sanding method on painted wood as it might scratch the paint and leave you with an ugly surface.

Method 3: Using white vinegar

For this method, you will need a paper towel and white vinegar. To clean your laser engraved wood, dab your paper towel in vinegar (you can also use a soft piece of cloth) and then use it to wipe off the residue on your wood.

Simply repeat the process until you are satisfied with the result.

Method 4 - Masking Tape

Masking tape is a fantastic and simple tool for any laser engraver as it protects the surface from the smoke residue left behind when you’re laser cutting and engraving.

It makes a much clean final outcome and reducing finishing time thereafter. It also gives you a more professional finished product.

If you would like your item covered with masking tape before engraving, feel free to discuss this option with one of our laser technicians.

Method 5 - Reduce the laser power.

We can reduce the laser power during the engraving process and engrave over the same design 2, 3, 4, even 5 times. By engraving on a lower power setting it will reduce the amount of debris released during the laser engraving process. Reducing finishing time. This is particularly useful when engraving woods with high contents of sap and natural oils.

Unfortunately, this is a more costly process as the engraving time is increased significantly.


I always use application tape (masking tape) when engraving and with some cutting processes. I have been known to clean up with acetone and a tooth brush. I also often use a brush backed sander to take the sharp corners off the wood. The product feels great after. This can remove soot from lightly engraved areas. A brushed backed sander is expensive and is made up of 12 or more brushes with abrasive paper in between. Mine is 6 inch diameter with a 2 inch width, they come a lot bigger as well, thick of them as a big flap wheel.

Awesome thank you for sharing. Do you have a link to a listing for sale of this tool you are referencing?

Much appreciated


I really wish you’d recommend a few brands, to illustrate what you mean. I’ve never heard of such a product. Waterless hand cleaners? Like what? Alcohol?

Hand disinfectant works perfectly. Or the disinfecting wipes

I have some “Germ-X” hand disinfectant. The ingredients on the bottle say it’s mostly water with a little alcohol and gelatin.

I tested it on a scrap piece of basswood, and it warped badly.

The hand disinfectant I use is mostly alcohol… I think you need over 75% to actually kill germs (or other substances)