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How to Clean Wood Furniture

Posted by Katherine Auman on

Whether antique or contemporary, wood furniture adds a unique beauty to a room. Unfortunately, it can experience wear and tear over the years. Here are some tips to help you get your wood furniture shining like new once again.

  1. Gather your cleaning tools. In order to successfully clean your wood furniture, your options are – cotton balls, dishwashing liquid, sponges, a bucket, a clean cloth, mineral spirits, and denatured alcohol. If you have paint, stain, or other types of treatment on your furniture, look into what cleaning method is best for the type of finish you have. You’ll want to clean in stages, beginning with a mild cleaning agent and working your way up to a stronger one, but only if the mild one doesn’t complete the task.

  2. Begin with dishwashing liquid. Slightly moisten a cotton ball with the soap and wipe across a section of the furniture. If it doesn’t harm the furniture, continue to clean. Using the bucket, mix water and the dishwashing soap, and then use a sponge to apply to the entire area. Do not under any circumstances soak the wood. Gently move the sponge over the surface and dry thoroughly.

  3. If the soap isn’t enough, move on to mineral spirits. Test a small area using a moistened cotton ball to make sure it won’t harm the surface. If the piece goes unharmed, wet a clean cloth with the spirits. Note* - you will want to do this in a well-ventilated area of your home. Wipe away leftover residue with water and inspect the piece as you clean and dry.

  4. If the spirits don’t work, move on to a different option. Before choosing your next cleaning agent, find out what type of finish is on your furniture. Slightly wet a cotton swab with denatured alcohol and apply to a small area of the furniture. The finish will dissolve if this is the wrong cleaning agent for your piece; this also lets you know you’re working with a shellac finish. If the piece goes unharmed, you most likely have an oil, lacquer, varnish, or polyurethane finish.

  5. If cleaning doesn’t help, it may be time for the last option. If none of the options work to your satisfaction, you may have to consider refinishing the furniture.

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