Maintain old furniture with Pure Tung Oil by Real Milk PaintWhile you probably dust wood furniture in your home often, you may need to be more meticulous when it comes to actually cleaning wooden furniture. A weekly wipe-down with a damp microfiber cloth may keep some dust particles at bay. Still, you need to deep-clean wood furniture at least once a month in addition to occasionally polishing it to help it look its best and reduce surface scratches. Read on to learn how to clean wood furniture and polish wood surfaces up to their original sheen with top-notch products like Pure Tung Oil from the Real Milk Paint Co.

The Importance of Regular Wood Furniture Maintenance

Sustaining the beauty of wood grain requires cleaning wood furniture regularly. One reason to remove dust particles frequently is that their abrasiveness may scratch the surface of your wood furniture, causing damage over time, including a hazy film. Another reason to dust furniture often is that dust mites and other allergens may affect those in your household. Lastly, when you regularly clean wood furniture, your home looks better and feels more inviting.

Before You Clean Wood Furniture: Identify the Wood Type and Finish

Importance of Regular Wood Furniture MaintenanceDifferent woods and finishes react differently to cleansers like furniture polish and mineral spirits. Try applying linseed oil in an inconspicuous spot on wood furniture. If the wood absorbs oil, the surface is likely an oil finish. However, if the oil beads, the finish is likely polyurethane, lacquer varnish or shellac.

Determine which of the other finishes it is by adding a few drops of acetone to a cotton swab and applying it close to the spot you first tested. If the acetone beads, the wood furniture probably has a polyurethane finish. If it doesn’t bead, wait a few minutes to see how the finish reacts — lacquer dissolves totally, while shellac and varnish get tacky.

Last, apply denatured alcohol with a cotton ball to distinguish between shellac and varnish finishes. Varnish reacts slowly, but shellac dissolves when you quickly wipe the cotton ball across the wood furniture surface.

Essential Tools and Materials for Deeper Cleaning of a Wood Surface

Dusting wood furniture requires little more than a microfiber cloth and your choice of aerosol furniture polish, but cleaning wood furniture requires more elbow grease. These are the tools and products you need to do the job correctly:

  • Soft cloths, such as microfiber or cotton
  • Mild dish detergent and water
  • Paper towels
  • The right cleaning products for your wood and finish

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Wood Furniture

Different wood grains and wood finishes require specific care and deep cleaning due to how cleaning products such as aerosol furniture polish, distilled white vinegar and even dish soap affect each type. Here, we break down the best way to clean grime from various wood finishes, helping you remove dust, sticky residue and old polish.

Cleaning Varnished, Lacquered or Shellacked Wood

Cleaning Varnished, Lacquered or Shellacked WoodTo clean wood furniture with a varnish, lacquer or shellac finish, mix one part dish soap with one part water, then rub down the surface with a damp cloth. To prevent damage to the wood, use a lint-free cloth to dry the surface completely before continuing. Next, grab a paste wax like our Wood Wax and a buffing pad, then apply wax to the surface to bring the wood furniture back to its original sheen.

Cleaning Oil-Finished Wood

The main rule when cleaning wood furniture with an oil finish is to avoid using paste wax, liquid wax or wax in general. Instead, choose between various wood oils to suit your needs, such as food-contact-safe Hemp Oil for indoor furnishings or Outdoor Defense Oil for outdoor wood furniture. Apply a small amount with a soft cotton cloth, thoroughly coating the surface. Wait a few minutes for the oil to penetrate the wood furniture piece, then apply more. When the wood surface stops absorbing the wood oil, wipe away the excess. Our finishing oils cure to the touch within seven days and entirely in 30 days.

Cleaning Painted Wood

Cleaning Unfinished Wood with Tri-Sodium PhosphateClean painted wood with a solution of mild dish detergent and water rubbed on with a damp cloth, then dry the area completely with a paper towel. If your wood furniture is painted with Real Milk Paint, you can seal the surface without changing the color. Use protective finishing oils like our Pure Tung Oil according to the product directions for long-lasting protection.

Cleaning Unfinished Wood

If you plan to paint, stain or oil unfinished wood, cleaning it is the first step. The best way to do so is by using Tri-Sodium Phosphate by the Real Milk Paint Co. Applying this product with a clean cloth helps you remove dust, sticky spots and other debris from the entire piece.

Our Top Tips for Keeping Your Wood Furniture in Excellent Condition

The old adage says an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which also applies to how you care for your wood furniture. Wood is sturdy and strong, and it looks great for years with the correct maintenance. Use these tips in addition to deeper cleaning to ensure your favorite furniture pieces stay beautiful.

Protecting Wood Furniture From Sunlight and Heat

Direct sunlight is the worst enemy of wood furniture because the UV rays damage the top coat. To prevent this heat (and any other!) from ruining furnishings like your favorite wood table, don’t place the wood furniture near windows where the sun shines for much of the day. Likewise, use trivets to protect wood surfaces like butcher block countertops in your kitchen from hot pots and pans.

Preventing Water Damage and Rings

Unless you use a dry cloth to mop them up immediately, liquid spills and condensation can easily damage a wood surface, creating water rings or stains. One of the main ways to keep wood furniture looking its best is to use absorbent coasters to protect it from liquids. If you need to address issues caused by liquids, you can do so by rubbing on non-gel toothpaste with a soft cloth until the water stain lifts. Stubborn water stains and rings may require mixing equal parts baking soda and toothpaste for more stain-lifting power.

Addressing Scratches and Dents

how to clean wood furniture to make them look newSurface scratches are often simple to remedy with just a bit of buffing with a finishing oil like Wood Oil or a high-quality paste wax like Wood Wax by the Real Milk Paint Co. Deeper scratches, however, require a bit more effort. For deeper scratches and dents, you first need to fill in with Wood Filler, sand the area down to level, then apply stain or paint to get the color right. Allow the repaired scratch to dry, then rub wax or your top coat over the repair to protect the area and ensure it looks like the rest of the wood furniture.

Keep Your Wood Furniture Looking Its Best for Years to Come

The importance of proper furniture care and maintenance can’t be overstated, especially if you want the wood grain to survive and thrive in your home. Taking care of your wood furniture is simple when you have products from the Real Milk Paint Co. that are all-natural, nontoxic and easy to use for beginners and experts alike.