Imagine you’re at an antique sale or a second-hand market, and your eye spies a particularly lovely looking oak table. The price is right, it’s the right size for your home, and the item looks fantastic for its age. However, you have to pass up on it, purely because you worry that such delicately aged wood would be too difficult to clean, and too easy to ruin.
This is a scenario that many homeowners go through. It’s true that no one should scrub an oak table like you would a plastic one, but that doesn’t necessarily make cleaning wooden furniture a difficult task. The following tips will explain everything; from seeking out the right cleaning products to what finishing touches work best with different woods.
Dusting wooden furniture properly
You mustn’t let dust build up too much on your wooden furniture. These layers of airborne deposits will not only hide the rich colour of the wood, they can lead to scratches in the surface over time. To shift the dust, damp a microfiber cloth with water, and wipe gently. Then, use a feather duster, paint brush or vacuum to get the dust out of any small spaces or carvings within the wood.
Finding the right wood cleaner
The first thing to know is that you shouldn’t clean wood with water alone, or with unsuitable cleaning products. Most commercially sold waxes, polishes and sprays state on the instructions whether it’s OK to apply it to wood, but just to be sure, you could always try applying it to a less visible area of the furniture first and observe the result.
Dip a cloth with the cleaning product, and wipe it over the surface of your wooden furniture. Let the first coat stand for 10 minutes, and then use a dampened cloth to remove the residue of the cleaner. If the furniture is particularly dirty, you can repeat this process, however note that most commercial wood cleaners should be effective enough that you won’t have to rub or scrub it into the wood.
Important tips to remember:
- Some wood cleaning products can be dangerous to inhale, so always make sure you’re cleaning in a well-ventilated area.
- Water may be necessary to help wood grow in the first place, but it can ruin wooden furniture’s colour or cause it to swell and warp. This is why you should not soak your table, chair etc. with a watery solution - instead wipe it with a moist cloth, and rub it in gently.
- Heavy-duty cleaners should only be considered as a last resort for the dirtiest of wooden furniture. They’re certainly inappropriate for wooden items that have veneers or lacquered finishes.
- If the piece is an antique or collectable that you intend to sell on at some point, check with a professional (before you start) that your chosen cleaning method will not affect its value.
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