Cleaning Wood Furniture

Some cleaners can ruin the finish on your wood furniture making it look dull or uneven. Knowing the proper methods for cleaning wood, you can keep your furniture looking new for years to come. This is a guide on cleaning wood furniture.
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October 28, 2010 Flag
1 found this helpful

Clean all surfaces using only a damp cloth followed by a dry cloth. Use a mild soap as required.

Avoid using wax or harsh detergent. They may damage the finish.

In order to prevent fading, do not expose any furniture to extreme sources of heat or direct sunlight.

Never place pots on surfaces or electrical appliances.

Refrain from writing without a desk pad.

Avoid contact with rubber protectors or plastic place mats on items such as lamps, radios, computers, or telephones.

Keep even humidity conditions in your home to prevent splitting.

Remove spills or liquid from furniture right away.

By Mpr3ssive from New York, NY

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October 29, 20100 found this helpful

Please understand that there's not enough information here. These tips are good, but the way they're worded, some of these tips are confusing and don't make sense. For example: "Never place pots on surfaces or electrical appliances" should specify plastic or laminate surfaces, but most other surfaces are safe, such as corian, wood, granite, stainless steel, or marble. One shouldn't set a pot atop a flat-topped electric appliance like a toaster because a shock could be transferred from the appliance to the pot, and to the cook.

Also: by "Avoid contact with rubber protectors or plastic place mats on items such as lamps, radios, computers, or telephones," I believe you mean to PUT rubber protectors or place-mats under those items to avoid static electricity and shocks, not to AVOID the protectors or place-mats.

Then there's "Keep even humidity conditions in your home to prevent splitting." It would be helpful to explain that WOOD splits (and enamel paint cracks, and fabrics weaken) if the humidity in the house is too low. Remember that some of our members may be young people who have no idea about taking care of their homes properly and need clear guidance. More careful wording would make things clearer and the tips more useful.

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September 3, 2015 Flag
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I would like to clean up the dust which accumulated over the years in the cracks of my big wooden table. I was thinking of using a Q-tip and a small hand vacuum, but I am wondering if there is any other way to do this?
Thank you.

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September 4, 20150 found this helpful

I would try an old, dry toothbrush (one that's too worn to use for tooth brushing any longer). I've had good success cleaning small items and things with crevices with an old toothbrush. Just don't brush so hard that you create scratches.

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September 22, 2006 Flag
1 found this helpful

I have a cleaning service and if I am dusting particularly dusty furniture, I like to spray orange oil on my rag, run hot water over it and wring it out. The dust clings to the damp rag and leaves a beautiful shine on the wood or plastic, like a television. I like this better than using straight oil as it tends to go on a little heavy. I also use this technique on wood floors. Instead of a rag, I use a roll-a-matic mop and spray the oil in my mop water along with a capful of Murphy's Oil Soap.

By Sally from Sherwood, OR

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September 22, 20060 found this helpful

I agree a little goes a long way. I cring when I see people spray or dump oil directly onto their wood instead of placing the cleaning agent onto the rag/towel.. You should never put the oil directly on wood as it could damage the item.

~Wendola~

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June 20, 2014 Flag
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I would like to give my dining room furniture a good cleaning, what is the best cleaning method and product?

By Joan

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June 20, 20140 found this helpful

Depends. Is it wood? Are you also talking upholstery chairs as well?

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January 22, 20150 found this helpful

Use Lemon Oil once a month to protect and condition wood furniture. Lemon Oil keeps your furniture from drying out and cracking.

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April 28, 2012 Flag
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What is the very best furniture polish? I don't care about the price. I just bought a new real wood table and chairs and I want to use the very best. On hand, I have Pledge and Old English oil. The pamphlet that came with table said not to mix different brands/types or the wood may appear cloudy.

By Judy from Riverside, CA

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April 28, 20120 found this helpful

I personally like using Orange Glo for my wood furniture.

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April 28, 20120 found this helpful

Fiddes. It is from the UK and available on eBay.

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November 2, 2011 Flag
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My dining room chairs seem to have caked on dirt, and I do not know how to clean them. It is probably there from people's hands. I had them cleaned once, but the dirt seemed to come back.

By Barbara W.

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November 2, 20111 found this helpful

I have redone house (wood work included) it does get build up. The dresser I have in my bedroom is way over 100yrs old, maybe I can help. If it's just build up from every day living like you said I would try plain vinegar (if you want to put lemon you can) maybe the citrus would help out, some don't like vinegar smell if its strong.The strength depends on how built up they are? So first go with 1/2 vinegar 1/2 water; if you add lemon just squirt the juice 2-4 times or 1 whole lemon. That is for quart size spay bottle. If that doesn't easily remove it add more vinegar. After you get them clean,you can make your own Murphy's type oil with either baby oil or mineral oil.If you are wanting to use a more soapy cleaner like Murphy's soap you add a squirt of dish soap to the oil. I hope this works for you. The only other thing I could suggest without seeing them is take straight half lemon with salt rubbing in a circular motion (how I clean my cutting boards or really dirty wood). Without a picture one of these will work.

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November 3, 20110 found this helpful

goop, or any "waterless hand cleaner". Not the one with "grit." Use a paint brush and brush it on the top rail, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then wipe it off with paper towels. When nothing more comes off on the paper towel, wipe it with cheesecloth or some fabric that will absorb any leftover moisture and gunk. Then buff if you feel like it.

Needs be, do it again. Does not affect the wood unless you leave it on too long so that it dries. Not caustic. Might want to cover the seat because it will drip. If you're cleaning a table, do a section at a time so it doesn't dry. Can also be used on "desk" leather. Amazing stuff.

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September 2, 2010 Flag

We have some chairs with wooden arms and these have become dirty from use (dirty hands?). Does anyone know how to clean this black off the arms without removing all of the varnish and stain stain?

By cybergrannie from Ocala, FL

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September 4, 20100 found this helpful

Please be careful using any type of oil in a homemade recipe. I made up a recipe using oil (besides other stuff) and it too me weeks and weeks to get the gunk off my furniture! oil seems to attract more dirt than it removes.

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September 5, 20100 found this helpful

If it was my chair, I would just use a regular cleaner like Mr. Clean. A cleaner such as that will not damage the varnish with occasional use. I take it you are simply trying to remove grubby fingerprints and skin oils and such that has built up over time. Don't be putting any sort of oil on it, that will just add to the gunky buildup.

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July 18, 2005 Flag
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The best way I've found to clean chair and table leg or staircase spindles is to use wet dental floss. It gets into all the grooves and you can get to the dust quicker and more efficiently than by using just a cloth.

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October 30, 2004 Flag
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Dip an old soft toothbrush into furniture polish and brush lightly. Then buff with a clean cloth. By Peggy

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September 2, 2010 Flag
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To clean wood furniture, etc., pour two tablespoons vegetable oil, add 4 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 quart warm water into a container. Wash with soft cloth and dry with clean dry cloth. It cleans just like Murphy's oil.

By Betty from Fond du Lac, Wi.

Answers:

Cleaning Wood Furniture

I'll have to try this. I've been looking for a homemade version of Murphy's! Have you washed your car with this recipe? (03/30/2006)

By camo_angels

Cleaning Wood Furniture

No, we haven't tried to wash our vehicle yet. Our weather is just starting to get better. We only have a truck as I never drove. I'll let my husband take care of trying that. If you try it, I hope it works for you. (04/02/2006)

By magnolia

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December 12, 2009 Flag
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Help. I made up some homemade wood cabinet polish with olive oil and lemon juice and applied to my oak and teak furniture. It looked great, but I've done something wrong because now there is a sticky film on them that everything adheres to and they look dirty and yukky.

How do I get them nice and clean again? Some of the furniture is varnished, some not. The varnished furniture seems to be less sticky. Any suggestions would be appreciated. The furniture is new and I'm really upset that I've ruined them.

Since I don't live in the U.S., please could anyone suggest something that is easily procured anywhere. Some American brand names cannot be found in Europe or else I have no idea what the European substitute would be. Many thanks.

Cettina from Malta, Europe

Answers:

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

Murphy's Oil soap comes to mind. You might consider calling a cabinet maker for a professional suggestion. (08/06/2007)

By ficklephonebug

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

Look for Hints from Heloise online. She has a solution for everything. (08/08/2007)

By Linda

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

Use white vinegar straight from the bottle. It will take several applications, but eventually you'll get down to the wood or varnish. Leave the lemon juice out of the cleaner next time. (08/08/2007)

By Sandy in Los Angeles

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

I use a paste of white vinegar and baking soda to remove sticky film. It'll take any dirt in the wood out as well. Always test a spot that you can't notice with the paste first to be safe. (08/08/2007)

By Pattie

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

Hi Cettina, I suspect that your furniture is now covered with a film of oil and dirt. You want to remove this without damaging the wood underneath. I have several pieces of wood furniture, oak, mainly, and I do not use anything on them. I dust with a dry cloth or feather duster, and if they get anything sticky, I wipe with a damp cloth, and dry afterward. I don't think that you need any sort of polish or anything on most wood furniture. I have read that a coat of paste wax once a year, paste wax made for wood, is good, but I have never bothered.

Anyway, back to your problem. I think that you should just wash the furniture with your usual household cleaner. I would use Mr. Clean, about a capful in 2 litres of warm water. Since you are wanting to dissolve a layer of dirt and oil, I think you need a detergent type cleaner. Or, I would use a capful, like 20ml in 2 litres of water, of ammonia. Ammonia cleans up oil by combining with it to make soap.

I don't really think that vinegar would be very effective. Acids, which vinegar is, don't combine or dissolve with oil. Think of oil and vinegar dressing. Of course, they do have some effect, but I think you would be better off with the household cleaner. Just don't soak the wood with the cleaner. Murphy's Oil Soap is an oily product that we have here in Canada. I don't know what is used for really; I have used it to coat the inside of things when I was making plaster molds for crafts. I don't think that I would use it on my furniture. I think you would get an oily residue with it, which is what you already have.

As for the other suggestions; lemon juice and vinegar are both acids, so have a similar effect on things; one just smells better. Baking soda is a slight abrasive and sometimes scratches delicate things; it is also a base, as is ammonia, so you can use a solution of ammonia to do a similar job without abrasion or fear of scratching. Mixing baking soda with vinegar will neutralize them, as one is as acid and one is a base. I suspect that a paste of vinegar and baking soda as suggested on other posts slightly neutralizes the baking soda, but that there is not enough to thoroughly do it, so you would get virtually the same effect by mixing water with the baking soda to make a paste. Good luck with your cleaning.


Louise, Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada (08/09/2007)

By louel53

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

After a recent move, I washed all my furniture with a strong solution of Pine-Gel and warm water. Dry well and polish with the correct polish for the wood. I was amazed to see all the dirt and oil vanish without damage to the furniture. (08/09/2007)

By gurth

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

In Italy the closest equivalent to Murphys Soap would be "sapone di marsiglia" and borax is probably "perborato". (08/12/2007)

By Nancy

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

I tried most of the suggestions and nothing much worked, so in the end I just put some warm water and hand dishwashing detergent in the kitchen sink, swooshed it around till it got foamy and applied the solution to the furniture with my dishcloth. I rinsed out the cloth and wiped the furniture again, and it doesn't seem so bad now. A few more times and I think I've sorted it. I use Fairy washing up liquid, but I suppose anything you use will do. Hope that helps. (06/26/2008)

By cett

Cleaning Wood Furniture With A Sticky Film

Vinegar and baking soda with a green scrub pad did the job. (09/24/2008)

Editor's Note: Green scrubbing pads are rather abrasive, so be sure to test on an inconspicuous area first.

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