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
Murphy's Oil soap comes to mind. You might consider calling a cabinet maker for a professional suggestion. (08/06/2007)
Look for Hints from Heloise online. She has a solution for everything. (08/08/2007)
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
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)
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)
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)
In Italy the closest equivalent to Murphys Soap would be "sapone di marsiglia" and borax is probably "perborato". (08/12/2007)
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)
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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