How to Clean Wood Furniture

Say goodbye to water stains, ink marks and polish buildup on your wood furniture by following these simple cleaning tips and tricks.

January 11, 2021

You dust and shine your wood furniture regularly, but over time those polishes and dust combine to leave a dark film on tables, chairs and shelves. To keep your furniture looking its best, you need to do a periodic deep cleaning.

Clean wood furniture by removing polish buildup

Photo by: Shutterstock/Yuliya Evstratenko

Shutterstock/Yuliya Evstratenko

Here’s how to clean wood furniture without damaging its finish:

  • Dust the furniture to remove surface dirt. Now you’re ready to remove light soiling.
  • Start with the gentlest cleaner and move up to stronger ones as needed. Try mixing a weak solution of water and dish washing soap.
  • Dip a soft cloth in the solution, wring it out and wipe the entire piece. You want a damp cloth, not a wet one.
  • Don’t saturate the wood, and rinse your cloth often.
  • Take a second, clean cloth and dry the piece thoroughly.

Here’s how to clean wood furniture that’s stained or has other problems.

How to Remove Old Polish

Knowing how to clean old wood furniture that has decades’ old buildup of polish will help you revitalize an antique.

  • Steep two tea bags in boiling water.
  • Let the tea cool to room temperature.
  • Take a soft cloth, wring it out in the tea until it’s damp and wash the wood.

The tannic acid from the tea is wonderful for maintaining wood. You’ll be surprised at how the wood will shine.

Remove Water Stains from Wood

Here’s how to remove water rings from wood where someone has put a hot or cold drink directly on a table.

  • Put some non-gel toothpaste on the spot and rub with a soft cloth till the stain is lifted.
  • For stubborn stains, mix equal parts baking soda and toothpaste.
  • Wipe the toothpaste off with a clean damp cloth and dry thoroughly.

Erase Difficult Marks from Wood

To remove an ink mark:

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water into a thin paste.
  • Apply to the stain and rub gently with a soft cloth until the stain disappears.
  • Wipe the toothpaste off with a clean damp cloth and dry thoroughly.

Once your furniture is clean, wipe a layer of wood polish on it to preserve the finish and add shine.

Homemade Furniture Polish

You can use commercially prepared lemon oil. You can also make a simple polish by mixing 1 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup white vinegar. Pour it on a soft cloth and work it into the wood, wiping with the grain. Buff till shiny.

Knowing how to clean wood furniture will help you keep your possessions looking lovely, longer.

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