Wood furniture first appeared in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, and humans have been looking for the best way to clean it ever since. There are as many different methods and products as there are types of wood. All these choices can be confusing. What one person swears by another person would never attempt.
The difficulty lies in the nature of wood. This porous, organic material can soak up moisture and become soft, stained and even moldy. Most wood furniture today has a finish or paint to help prevent moisture retention, but using the wrong cleaner can strip this protective coating and damage your furniture.
So do you know how to clean wood furniture, or have you been winging it like many other people? If you could use some pointers on the best cleaning techniques for your wood furniture, here are all the tips and tricks you need to know.
Can You Use Vinegar and Water to Clean Wood Furniture?
Usually, you want to keep water off of wood surfaces, so can you clean wood furniture with water? Yes, but only in small amounts. When using water to clean wood, only use a lightly damp, not wet, cloth or sponge and dry the wood afterward.
Water is best used to dilute other cleaners to make gentle cleaning solutions. Wood should never be cleaned with harsh chemicals. Even commercial multipurpose cleaners are too strong.
There are commercial wood cleaners on the market, but they are not created equal. For instance, products that claim to “condition” your wood can leave a waxy residue that can attract dirt and are best avoided.
For wood furniture lovers who prefer cheap or natural cleaning methods, there are several effective cleansers that are easy to make at home. Next time you need a tried-and-true wood furniture cleaner, try one of these recipes:
- Dish soap: Put a few drops of liquid dish soap on a cotton ball, dip it in a small amount of warm water, and test on an inconspicuous spot. If it proves safe, mix a few drops of soap in a cup of water and dampen a soft cloth to wipe down your furniture. This mixture is ideal for sticky spots.
- Lemon juice and coconut oil furniture polish: Combine a half cup each of lemon juice and water and one teaspoon of coconut oil in a spray bottle. Shake bottle to mix and spot test on your wood furniture. To use, spray on a soft cloth and wipe down the furniture. Buff with a dry cloth afterward to remove moisture and evenly distribute the oil.
- Vinegar: Mix three tablespoons of white distilled vinegar with one cup of water. Dampen a soft cloth with the mixture and dab on a test spot. If it has no negative effect, continue cleaning. Buff with a dry cloth afterward.
- Olive oil and vinegar furniture polish: To both clean and polish wood furniture, try this recipe. Combine one cup extra virgin olive oil, one cup white distilled vinegar, and one teaspoon castile soap in a spray bottle. You can add 15 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent too. Shake bottle and test on your wood furniture. To use, spray on a microfiber cloth and wipe your furniture clean. Buff off excess moisture with a dry cloth.
Remember, while vinegar is generally considered a gentle household cleaner, its mild acidity is strong enough to damage wood on its own, which is why it should always be diluted.
How to Clean Grime Off Wood Furniture
The above methods are ideal for regular cleaning, but what about very dirty wood? Wood furniture that has been neglected or suffers from wax buildup deserves some extra TLC but still shouldn’t be touched with harsh substances.
Here’s how to clean grime off wood furniture: Begin by dusting the wood with a soft damp cloth to remove loose dirt. Try the dish soap and water solution first. If that doesn’t work, try mineral spirits. This petroleum-based product is safe on wood and easy to use.
Mineral spirits can be found at hardware stores. As always, test a small amount on your furniture to ensure it doesn’t stain. Then wipe down your piece with a clean cloth doused in the mineral spirits. Continue to do so until the cloth is no longer picking up any residue. Add more mineral spirits as necessary.
How to Clean Painted Wood Furniture
Harsh cleaners and some furniture waxes and polishes can ruin the paint on wood furniture. The best option for how to clean painted wood furniture is to vacuum it regularly with a brush attachment and wipe down with vinegar diluted with water. Wipe up spills and crumbs immediately to prevent stains and stickiness.
How to Clean Old Wood Furniture
Using a gentle cleanser is always important for wood but more so for delicate old wood furniture. Begin by dusting. Then clean with a soft cloth dampened with the dish soap and water mixture. Don’t scrub the piece. Instead, wipe gently with the grain of the wood for the best results.
Enjoy Clean Wood Furniture All the Time
There can be a lot of confusion concerning how to clean wood furniture, but it’s really quite simple. Stick with gentle cleaning solutions and never leave moisture on the wood. Wood furniture, even when soiled, benefits from a delicate touch and shouldn’t take much scrubbing. Wood furniture is beautiful and classic but only when it’s cleaned regularly and properly.
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