How To Care for Your Wood Furniture

Should you clean, dust, or wax your wood furniture? Read these instructions followed by some tips from the experts. Are you confused about cleaning vs. dusting, or polishing vs. waxing made solid wooden furniture? While experts have different ideas on the care of wood furniture, it regularly depends on the finish of the item. On the following pages are several essential tips from the book, Making a Home.


Tip #1: Always ask for specific cleaning and care guidelines when purchasing old or new furnishings. If its old you can decorate your own wooden chairs or furniture, it’s easy.


Don’t bypass dusting furniture. Regular dusting removes airborne deposits that build up in a filmy layer and can damage the surface.

Clean, dry, feather dusters or soft cloths will remove dust; however, to evade scattering the dust into the air, where it floats until arriving back on furniture exteriors, dampen the fabric very slightly.


Tools for Dusting

  • Classic feather duster: An ostrich-feather duster excludes dust from easily damaged, sensitive surfaces, such as mirrors, silk lampshades,  art and picture frames, and fragile collectibles.
  • Treated cloths: For dusting, scratching, soft fabrics pick up and hold dirt. Use them in place of silicon showers, which are not approved for beautiful wood furniture. Also, Lambs-wool duster: These contain lanolin, which attracts dust and makes it cling to the cleaning tool. They’re also useful for dusting carved or turned areas that clothes can’t reach. A long handle makes them perfect for hard-to-reach spaces, including ceiling fans and light fixtures.
  • Soft, lint-free cloths: Clean cotton T-shirts or diapers are commonly used. Dampen them slightly to help trap dust.
  • Terry towels: Use a clean, dry sheet to remove any moisture left from dusting with a damp cloth.



Never use all-purpose cleaning splashes unless your furniture has a plastic cover, such as the set used on children’s furniture and kitchen tables.

You’ll regularly want to duck cleaning wood with water. However, sticky spots may require to be treated with water and soap. Here’s how: dip the cloth in mild detergent or soap dissolved in water, wring the fabric nearly dry, and wipe the field. Rinse and immediately dry with a  soft, clean cloth.

Cleaners, oil polishes, and furniture oils defend wood by making the surface more smooth; they do not offer a hard protecting layer.

Products that include a high percentage of oil make the surface smear, showing fingerprints. Avoid cleaning with pure olive oil, which attracts and spreads dust.

Most commercial spray and liquid furniture polishes contain silicone oil, which provides some protection. If you have used finishes and showers in the past or suspect that furniture has been polished with them, be conscious that debris can interfere with refinishing and may need professional attention.

Homemade recipe for cleaning wood: Some experts suggest reviving grimy wood furniture with a mixture of equal parts olive oil, denatured alcohol, gum turpentine, and strained the lemon juice. Apply with a light cloth and buff with a clean cloth.

Typically during manufacture, polyurethane, varnish, or shellac is used to wood to protect the exterior. Using polish or wax protects the manufacturer’s finish and helps to decrease surface scratches.

Wax provides a hard finish and long-lasting protection doesn’t smear and is more durable than sprays or polishes.

Use paste wax or liquid wax explicitly made for furniture. Depending on use, paste wax finishes may last as long as two years. Molten wax is more natural to apply but leaves a thinner coating; it may need to be used more frequently than paste wax.

Learn how to apply waxes to eliminate streaks or a cloudy appearance properly. Always apply wax in light coats, rubbing into the surface with the grain. Allow to dry and buff to a bright shine with a soft cloth.


Tips for Applying Paste Wax

  1. Put a wax with a full spoon, about the size of a ping-pong ball, in a square of 100-percent-cotton material. Cover the fabric around the wax ball and knead it until soft.
  2. Rub in a round motion, one little area at a time, until the waxing is complete.
  3. When the cover dulls, wipe off the excess wax. Use a soft, clean, cotton cloth and turn it frequently.
  4. Repeat waxing and wiping until the entire piece is waxed. If you notice a streak, keep rubbing to remove excess wax.
  5. Clear the wood, with a fine cloth or lambs-wool pad attached to an electric drill or power buffer. If the wax smears, wipe with a soft cloth and continue buffing.
  6. For a deep shine, apply a second coat of wax in the same manner; to maintain waxed furniture, dust with a lambs-wool duster. Never use liquid or aerosol furniture polishes because they can dissolve the wax and leave a hazy film.


Deep Cleaning

As a first level to removing coats of grime, use water and oil soap. Rinse and dry well. If the finish still seems dirty, clean gently with #0000 steel wool dipped in a cleaning product. Some products with a milky appearance are formulated to soften both solvent-based and oil-based residues. Do not use mixes containing boiled linseed oil, turpentine, or white vinegar. Museum conservators say these things darken the wood and attract lint and dust. Instead, apply clear paste wax.


Freshen Finds

  • If a vintage item has a lingering smell, the air outside on a warm, dry day. Shade from direct sunlight.
  • Pour baking soda or talcum powder over the surface to absorb odors.
  • Place a shallow pan of charcoal briquettes inside drawers.
  • Rub the upper edge of sticking drawers with a white candle.


Polishing Hardware

Remove hardware from the furniture piece. Clean with a brass cleaner or metal and buff. Reattach when completely dry.


Scratching the Surface

If the top of wood furniture is somewhat damaged, apply paste wax or use a felt-tip touch-up pen.


To handle deeper scratches that dig into the wood, use colored filler or a wood filler wax stick available at hardware and home repair stores. Match as closely as possible to the color of your item, applying in various thin layers rather than in one thick coat.

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