Due to their timeless visual appeal and longevity, furniture pieces made of wood are a design staple of many homes. When cared for the right way, your wood furniture can serve you for a long time, especially if they come equipped with great bones. However, you will have to learn to clean your wood furniture the right way if you want those pieces to last long.
It’s important to remember that even the best quality wood is prone to wear and tear eventually. This makes it essential to clean wood furniture regularly to prevent it from losing its sheen. Though cleaning wood may seem complicated, it’s not, if you use the right tools and techniques. And it’s always best to adhere to a simple approach.
For starters, you can ask your vendor about how to care for the piece well when buying wood furniture. As every type, stain, and finish of wood is different, it’s hard to find a blanket solution that applies to all. A good starting point is to dust your pieces regularly and deep clean them periodically.
It’s best to use the mildest cleaning solutions first and move forward from there. Before using any new cleaning product or solution, you should also test them in an inconspicuous spot instead of using them to wipe down the entire table or chair made of wood.
Ready to learn how to clean your prized wood furniture? Read on.
Cleaning Supplies You Will Need
To clean your wooden furniture, you will need all the materials mentioned in the list below:
- Cotton rags, microfibre cloths, cotton balls, a feather duster, a medium-sized brush, and a vacuum cleaner
- Rubber gloves
- Dust mask
- Teabags, baking soda, toothpaste, olive oil, white vinegar, detergent, and dishwashing liquid
- Lemon oil, wood wax, furniture oil, mineral spirits, paint, and varnish
Some of these materials are optional and you will require them only when repolishing or painting your old furniture to restore it to its old glory. Now, let’s start with the cleaning tips for your wood furniture.
Spot The Existing Treatment On Your Wood Furniture
Usually, wood furniture comes with three main types of surface treatments. Among them, paint is the easiest one to spot. The other two finishes are the varnish/polish and oil finish.
You should rub some wood spirit or wood alcohol on a section of your furniture not easily visible and leave it for 5 minutes to find out if it has polish or varnish. If you find the section becoming sticky, it means your furniture is polished.
To identify if your wood (with its natural sheen) comes with an oil coating on it, use a cotton swab to rub some linseed oil and notice if the oil vanishes. If it does, there’s an oil coating on your wood. If the oil beads on the surface, it indicates your piece is most likely finished with lacquer or varnish.
Mixing up finishes can be disastrous when cleaning your wood furniture. So, it pays to know what surface treatments your piece has undergone before you use the steps we recommend below to clean any grime or stain sitting on it.
Prepare Your Furniture
Your furniture’s condition determines the method you need to take for cleaning it. But before you use any cleaning solutions or techniques, you should prepare your furniture for cleaning. This can be done easily with a microfibre cloth, along with a feather duster. You can use them to wipe/dust your piece of furniture.
You could also employ a vacuum cleaner that comes equipped with a brush nozzle to clean your wooden furniture. This should be followed by the cleaning steps mentioned in the subsequent sections.
Wooden Furniture With Paint On It
After you have wiped your painted furniture to remove the loose dust sitting on it, get rid of the grime or stains on the paint. To do this, set aside two pieces of microfiber cloth. Add two drops of dish soap to water and mix well. Soak a small cotton ball in this solution and rub it on the paint. Next, use the clean microfibre cloth to wipe the area. In case the paint stays undamaged, you can clean your entire furniture with the solution prepared earlier.
You can use the second cloth to wipe the surplus moisture on your furniture as not all paints are fungus- or mould-resistant. You should remember to use a microfibre cloth, which is lint-free and soft, and not any other material that could leave fibres or marks behind.
Wooden Furniture With Oil Coating On It
After you have wiped the furniture’s surface with a clean, dry cloth, you should use a soft cloth wrung out tightly in clean water to remove stains. Avoid using any damp cloths on your wood furniture’s oil-treated surface. Also, remember to wipe in the wood grain’s longitudinal direction.
In case your furniture’s surface is exceptionally dirty, you can take around 5 litres of clean water and add ¼ decilitre of soap flakes to it to make a cleaning agent. Alternatively, you can buy any other store-bought cleaning agent specifically developed for oil-treated surfaces. Once you have cleaned the surface, it needs to be pulled back with oil.
It’s vital not to use scouring sponges, chemicals, wire wool, or similar items for cleaning your oiled wood furniture as they will damage the surface.
Wooden Furniture With Polish On It
Black tea solution works wonder as a cleaning agent for pieces of wood furniture with polish or varnish on them. You will need to immerse 4-5 black teabags in hot water for about 10 minutes and then moisten your microfibre cloth with this solution.
Next, use this dampened cloth to wipe your polished furniture to help it retain its polish and lustre. Make sure to let your furniture air-dry for 2 hours prior to using it.
Pro Tips for Cleaning Speciality Wood Furniture
Speciality wood includes wicker, rattan, bamboo, cane, and rush. To clean speciality wood furniture, the first step is to remove surface dust and dirt using a microfibre cloth. You may even use a vacuum cleaner for this purpose.
The second step is to mix white vinegar and olive oil in 1:1 ratio. Vinegar helps break surface stains, while olive oil loosens stains and nourishes surfaces. By combining these two elements, you can accelerate the cleaning process.
Soak your microfibre cloth in this solution and wipe your furniture with it. Use the second piece of cloth to buff the furniture, thus giving it a glossy look. Lastly, let your furniture settle for 1-2 hours before you use it.
Precautions To Maintain Your Wooden Furniture
- To preserve the pristine look of your prized possession, keep it away from direct sunlight exposure as it can damage the wood.
- Avoid using ammonia-based cleaning agents on your wooden furniture as they leave residue behind that builds up over time.
- Adhere to a frequent dusting schedule (at least once a week) using pieces of soft and lint-free microfibre cloth to avoid dust build-up on the surface.
- Use dusters to clean those hard-to-reach nooks and corners.
- Don’t forget to deep clean once in a while. Opt for a mild mixture of water and soap to remove stubborn stains. Remember to follow it up with a damp cloth.
- You can remove heat rings and light water stains by rubbing some toothpaste (non-gel-based) on them. A solution of water and baking soda is ideal to remove stronger stains.
- To get rid of a strong odour in your wooden cabinets and drawers, put a bowl full of coffee beans or bleach inside.
- Since prevention is always better than cure, use coasters and tablecloths to protect your wooden furniture surfaces.
- Keep sharp objects away to protect your furniture surfaces from marks and scratches.
Now that you know all about cleaning wooden furniture, go ahead and make those lovely assets shine, no matter whether they are heirloom pieces, store-bought stuff, or gifted items.