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How to Clean Your Wooden Furniture & Keep it in Mint Condition!

white based kitchen with timber benchtop and wooden table in the middle

If you see a piece of wooden furniture that looks absolutely gorgeous, it can only mean one of two things – it’s brand new, or someone has been taking really good care of it! Yes, long-lasting wooden furniture is a result of regular cleaning and proper maintenance; without it, you can kiss your beautiful timber furniture goodbye sooner than later.

Of course, everyone wishes to keep their wooden pieces of furniture in tiptop condition for years to come, however, not everyone knows how to do that. While lack of time is the most common reason why homeowners don’t take proper care of their wood, others are unsure of what the best method to clean wooden furniture is. Well, that’s where we come in.

Maid For You knows all the secrets to clean wood safely, and keep it looking as good as new! So, if you want to revitalise your wooden furniture, this DIY cleaning guide is just the thing you need! 

Determine the Finish Before Cleaning Wooden Furniture

man applying finish with a white rag to wooden tabletop

As you know, wood can be finished in a number of ways. These specific finishes have slightly different cleaning requirements, however, for the most part, they remain the same.

The most common types of finishes for wood furniture are as follows:

  • Wax – A wax coating over wood leaves a thickish layer on the surface which aids in protecting the wood against heat and moisture. For this, a mild soap and water solution can be used to clean the wood, however, it is advisable to use a damp cloth to wipe the furniture down as opposed to spraying the cleaner directly onto the surface.
  • Paint – If you can clean painted walls safely, there’s no reason why you can’t clean painted wooden furniture too. In fact, paint is a substance that protects timber just as well as any varnish or wax coating which is why many opt to paint their wooden pieces of furniture. As far as the cleaning method is concerned, use a solution made with liquid dish soap and water to remove light soil and stains.
  • Varnish – For that added sheen, homeowners often apply a coat of varnish over wooden pieces of furniture. While varnish protects timber from stains, it is easily damaged if you are not careful. We recommend a soft cloth and a specially formulated varnish cleaner for this. 
  • Unfinished – Remember, wood in its natural form (unfinished and unsealed) is not water resistant. It is also prone to insect infestation and other damage which is why it’s rare to find wooden furniture without a finish. If you do, in fact, own raw articles of wood, use a merely damp cloth to wipe over the piece, and a special wood cleaner to remove stains and tough grime.

General Maintenance and Cleaning of Wood Furniture

lady with blue gloves cleaning wooden table with green rag

Along with knowing the basics of cleaning wooden furniture, one must understand when and how to strip off old polish and reapply it. Don’t worry; it’s not as difficult as it sounds!

Let’s start off with a regular cleaning routine for your wooden furniture.

Dusting & Removing Light Soil 

  1. Wipe wooden pieces with a microfibre cloth (perfect for picking up fine dust from the surface).
  2. To remove mild dirt and stains, always start with a gentle cleaning solution consisting of liquid dish soap (1 tablespoon) and 1 litre of water. This can be premade and stored in a spray bottle.
  3. Take a clean microfibre dust cloth, spray it with the cleaning solution to dampen it, and gently scrub away grime.
  4. Typically, wiping wooden furniture with a damp cloth (in a well-ventilated room) should not leave the surface damp for more than a few minutes, however, if you find that your wooden furniture has remained damp longer than that, dry it with a towel or an absorbent cloth.

How to Remove Water Rings from Wooden Furniture

There’s a reason why people who own wooden furniture insist that you use a coaster; water rings are not only unsightly, they don’t seem to come off with a regular cleaning solution like the one mentioned above. 

Nevertheless, here is an easy and effective way to remove water stains from wooden furniture:

  1. Dab some (non-gel) toothpaste over the water stain.
  2. Use your finger to spread it around, and leave it for 3060 seconds. In case the water ring has been sitting there for a long time (like a few weeks), it may require some amount of abrasion to remove. For this, combine ½ a teaspoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of toothpaste, and then apply it to the wood stain.
  3. With a damp cloth, scrub the area for a few seconds, and then clean off the toothpaste.
  4. If needed, dry the surface with a towel.

How to Remove Furniture Polish & Reapply It

A few sprays of furniture polish and a quick wipe can make your wooden furniture look brand new again; on the other hand, old polish buildup on wooden surfaces does the exact opposite. 

Eventually, polished wood begins to look patchy and worn which, in turn, drags down its appearance. Hence, from time to time, it’s important to deep clean wood furniture to strip off the old polish and reapply a fresh coat.

Removing Furniture Polish from Wood:

  1. Depending on how many pieces of wooden furniture you are cleaning or how large the piece is, soak 2-4 tea bags in a pot of boiling water. Allow it to cool while the tea bags are still soaking.
  2. Dampen a microfibre cloth in the solution, and gently scrub the wood to remove the furniture polish.
  3. If needed, use a fresh cloth and scrub the surface again.
  4. Dry the wood with a towel to finish off.

Tea water alone can leave your wood shining, however, the effect won’t last for too long. Therefore, we advise applying fresh polish over your freshly cleaned wooden furniture. For this, you can either use a commercial product or make your own wood furniture polish.

DIY Wood Furniture Polish & Application

  1. In a bowl, mix 1 part lemon oil or olive oil and 3 parts white vinegar
  2. Pour some of the homemade polish onto a clean microfibre cloth (squeeze out excess).
  3. Buff the entire piece of wooden furniture for an even polish application.

Keeping your wooden furniture in mint condition means having to clean it regularly, deep clean it occasionally, and revitalise its appearance with a good polish from time to time! So, go ahead and use these tips from Maid For You to clean and maintain your wooden furniture and we guarantee your great-grandkids will be grateful that you did!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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