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If you’ve never learned how to clean wood furniture, you might have a tendency to just reach for the can of spray polish and a cloth. But what you might not know, is that over time, the residue this method leaves behind can dull and eventually damage wood surfaces. The correct approach of how to clean wooden furniture actually depends on the surface of the wood and how, or if, it has been treated.
How to Clean Wood Furniture That’s Varnished or Lacquered
When “bathing” your wooden furniture, avoid over-wetting pieces that have been varnished or lacquered. If water soaks through the finish, it could cause the wood to expand and warp. Heavy detergents can also damage the finish, so avoid using these as well. Instead, remove dust or debris with a soft dry cloth and then gently wipe the surface with a cotton cloth dampened with warm water and mild soap. Use a second water-only damp cloth to remove any remaining soap film, and dry thoroughly with a clean cotton cloth. To polish to a high luster and protect the finish from environmental damage, buff the surface with a high quality paste wax. Be sure to remove any hardware before applying solvents.
How to Clean Wood Furniture That’s Damaged
As is often the case with older pieces, using water on surfaces that are cracked, flaking, or weakened can easily cause further damage. So rather than using the aforementioned mild solution of soap and water, try using mineral spirits instead. Especially when using this product to remove wax build-up, be sure to carefully follow the package instructions.
Many table tops, dressers, end tables and buffets have been damaged with water rings or steam stains. These marks are usually lighter colored than the rest of the surface, as the moisture has settled into the wax coat of the wood treatment. Rub an oily substance, like petroleum jelly, into the discolored area to displace the water. Polish with a soft cloth and buff with a thin layer of paste wax.
How to Clean Wood Furniture That’s Unfinished, Painted or Waxed
To remove surface stains, lightly sand unfinished wood with a fine grit sandpaper in the direction of the wood grain. For unfinished furniture, painted surfaces, or furniture with a wax finish, use a dry cloth to remove dust by wiping in the direction of the wood grain.
How to Clean Antique Wood Furniture
As the insides of furniture drawers, like bureaus and buffets, are often left unfinished, wipe with a cloth very lightly moistened with water and a mild soap, if necessary. On the outsides of antique pieces, you will want to be careful to avoid causing any damage. Use just a little bit of wax and a lot of elbow grease. Let the wax rest for approximately 30 minutes before buffing with a soft cloth to attain a high shine.
Antique furniture often develops a stickiness on the surface, so to remove this unattractive and dust-attracting film, dip a cloth into a solution of water and a few drops of very dilute white vinegar, vigorously wring it out, and gently scrub the stickiness away.
Whether you are staging a home for sale, setting up an office, or simply wanting to maintain or treat the furnishings in your home so they’ll last for years to come, knowing how to clean your wooden furniture is important.
If your furniture is damaged beyond repair, or you are simply ready for some new options for your home, office or business, contact us at Executive Furniture Rentals today!
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