3 Steps for Cleaning Wood Furniture

You’ve finally got the table you’ve always wanted, but are you cleaning it properly? Here are some tips for taking care of your wood furniture to keep it clean and protected.

If you are sure of your wood furniture finish—paint, stain, or even other types of finishes —then use a cleaning method appropriate for that specific wood finish. Otherwise, it’s best to clean the furniture in stages, starting with a mild cleanser that poses no risk to the integrity of the finish, then graduating to a stronger solution only if the gentler one fails. Proceeding in this way means that you can safely clean wood furniture without knowing precisely what you’re dealing with.

STEP 1 – Dishwashing Detergent
Add a drop to a water-moistened cotton ball, then wipe it on an inconspicuous part of the furniture, such as the inside of a chair leg. If the detergent mars the finish in your test area, then continue without the detergent. If the test area shows no evidence of damage, it’s safe to proceed. Mix water and detergent in a bucket and use this solution to sponge down the entire piece. Be careful not to soak the wood and make sure to dry thoroughly.

STEP 2 – Mineral Spirits
If you want to see if you can get your furniture a little cleaner, the next thing to try is mineral spirits. They should be harmless to wood finishes, but you should still test an inconspicuous area with a moistened cotton ball. If you see nothing suspicious, wash the piece with a clean cloth soaked in mineral spirits. (Work in a well-ventilated location.) In many cases, mineral spirits can remove years of grime. Finish by wiping away any residual cleaner with water, inspecting the wood for blemishes as you go.

STEP 3 – Furniture Wax
Once satisfied with the results of your cleaning efforts, the smart way to finish it off would be to apply furniture wax. Apply it liberally with a cheesecloth, rubbing in the direction of the grain. Afterward, buff with a clean cloth.

Bonus Tip: Always dust wood furniture with soft, lint-free cloths. Avoid feather dusters, because they aren’t as effective and sometimes have sharp quills that may scratch the wood surface.

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