How to Clean Solid Wood Furniture

Purchasing wood furniture for your home is an investment. Many families are drawn to it because it is attractive and functional, but it is also quite costly. To be certain your furniture remains looking good as new, it is important to learn how to care for it properly. Since wood and water are natural enemies, any dirt or stains that land on your new wooden furniture must be removed without the use of water to protect the integrity of the finish and the wood itself. But life is messy, and your wood furniture is going to get dirty. What is the safest way to clean solid wood furniture?

Taking Care of Solid Wood Furniture

If you take proper care of your new wood furniture, it will last you a long time. Yet many misconceptions exist about the proper way to clean this type of home décor. As a starting point, it is always wise to ask the salesperson at the time of purchase what their recommendations are. Salespeople are familiar with the proper cleaning techniques and solutions that are safe for use on the precise item that you are bringing into your home, so they are your best resource to consult as a starting point.

Wooden furniture requires several types of cleaning to keep it protected and looking beautiful.

Here are the types of cleaning you will need to do and some recommended cleaners and methods for safely getting the job done:

  • Dusting

Though dust seems innocent enough, it is an airborne particle that if not removed frequently can lead to buildup on your wooden furniture, leaving unsightly scratches in the surface. There are several different things you can use to remove dust from your favourite wooden couch, chair, end table, or dining room set.

Feather dusters have long been a beloved tool for people wishing to whisk dust away from their furniture and other household furnishings. They are an excellent tool to use on items that are fragile or difficult to clean using a cloth.

Many companies also manufacture disposable soft cloths that are specially treated to clean wood surfaces. The advantage to these types of cloths is they attract and trap dirt, making them easy to use. Best of all; once you are done cleaning, you can simply throw the cloth away.

Though not as popular an option, dusters made from lamb’s wool are highly effective at removing dirt from ornate wooden pieces of furniture which can be difficult to clean. Lamb’s wool is often treated with as substance called lanolin which traps and holds dust. Many of these types of cleaners can be attached to a handle, allowing you to clean high up pieces such as armoires or hutches.

Both soft cloths made from old t-shirts and terry cloth towels can be used to remove dust from your wooden furniture safely. For best results, dampen the cloths very slightly. The minimal amount of moisture causes the dirt to cling to the cloth.

  • Cleaners

Wood can damage quite easily, so it is important to select a product that will not ruin the surface of your furniture. To this end, it is never a good idea to purchase a cleaner that is labelled as an “all purpose” solution. It is generally too abrasive or contains chemicals which are not friendly to wood.

In the same vein, wood and water are mortal enemies. Should your wooden furniture become sticky or dirty, you will, of course, need to remove the offensive elements. Under these circumstances, mix a small amount of dish soap and water and gently work it into the area until it is gone. Immediately blot the section dry with a soft, clean towel.Furniture oils have long been a popular option for families who love solid wood furniture. However, these types of polishes are formulated to help furniture maintain a high gloss shine. While the finish is attractive, it makes the furniture quite slippery and offers no actual protection for the wood itself.

Did you know that you can make a cleaner yourself that is one of the most effective methods for cleaning and protecting your precious wooden furniture? To remove buildup, dust, and grime from your furniture, simply make a mixture of olive oil, denatured alcohol, gum turpentine, and lemon juice in equal parts. Simply add a little of the mixture to a clean, soft cloth and use it to buff your furniture to a beautiful shine. 

  • Furniture wax

Most wooden furniture receives a coating of varnish, polyurethane, or shellac prior to leaving the manufacturer. This process helps to protect it against wear and abuses. These types of surfaces are well-suited to receiving an application of a furniture wax to preserve the finish and add an additional layer of protection.

If you opt to apply wax to your furniture, be certain to select one that has been specifically designed for use on wood. Waxes do not require frequent application. Whether you make use of a liquid or a paste, your wax finish should keep your table blemish free for up to two years.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s directions to properly apply the wax, otherwise it may cause buildup and/or appear cloudy, temporarily marring the look of the wood.

For best results, apply thin coats and carefully work each amount into the wood’s surface. Always work in the direction of the grain then allow the wax time to set. Once the wax has properly dried, you can then use a soft cloth to buff the wax to a brilliant shine.

  • Deeper cleaning

From time to time, it is necessary to treat your wooden furniture to a deep cleaning. The easiest way to do this is by making use of an oil-based soap and a small amount of water. Apply a slight coating of the oil soap to your table then rinse it thoroughly and dry well. If dirt and buildup still remains, it may be necessary to lightly scrub the surface with steel wool enhanced with a solvent designed to remove grime, taking care not to scratch the wood or its finish.

Though many people used to make use of products which contain linseed oil, turpentine, or white vinegar, we now know that these substances will cause wood to intensify in color and will also attract dust or lint. They can also potentially cause the finish on your wood furniture to dissolve, and thus, should be avoided.

Could your wood furniture do with a cleaning? Follow our top tips to help keep it looking new and clean. With a little bit of proper care, your wood furniture can last a lifetime!

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