Quality wood furniture can last a lifetime and is often a treasured heirloom, passed down through multiple generations. Still, even the highest quality wood is susceptible to scratches and abrasions. No matter what type it is, wood needs to be properly cared for.
When purchasing furniture, it never hurts to ask for specific cleaning and care instructions.
Here are 10 tips to keep your wood furnishings looking best for many years to come:
1. Don’t Mistreat Furniture
To avoid rings and heat damage, ALWAYS USE COASTERS when setting glasses or mugs on wood tables, and never place hot food directly on them without the protection of a trivet or potholder. You can even use decorative placemats or a tablecloth to protect your dining room table from food and drink spills.
2. Avoid Environmental Damage
Sunlight, heat and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on your fine wood. Don’t place valuable furniture in front of uncovered windows, vents or fireplaces, as the light and heat can damage and fade the wood.
3. Dust Often
Dusting is not the way you want to occupy your free time, but the chore is one of the best ways to take care of your furniture. Airborne particles can build a filmy layer on wood that scratches the surface. Frequent dusting keeps this buildup from happening.
Always use soft cloth like cotton T-shirts, cloth diapers or microfiber to avoid damage. Lamb’s wool dusters are great for ornate carvings or hard to reach places because they effectively attract and hold dust.
4. Keep Your Wood Clean
Sometimes dusting isn’t enough and you’ll find it necessary to clean your wood furniture. Do NOT use all-purpose cleaners, they can cause damage to the finish. If you have a spot that is soiled or sticky, and dusting just won’t do, dip a cloth in water that contains a mild dish detergent. Wring it out as much as possible and gently wipe the area. Be sure to follow up with a rinse from a damp cloth containing just water, then immediately wipe with a soft dry cloth.
5. Protect Your Wood
Most commercial polishes and sprays contain either petroleum distillates or silicone oil to for a fresh and shiny finish, and to offer some protection for your wood. Avoid using too much of this product, because it can cause buildup that combines with dirt to create a dull, sticky film. Always be sure to buff well when using products to help avoid this buildup, and don’t use these products with a wax product because the combination will result in another gooey mess.
6. Treat Wear and Tear
Even with the best care, wood furniture will surprise you with some injuries. For minor nicks and scratches use a product like Old English Scratch Cover. This liquid polish hides abrasions, restoring the wood’s inherent beauty.
If damage is too extensive to be treated with polishes or touch up sticks and you aren’t quite ready to give up your fixture, you may need to resort to something more drastic. Painting a piece of damaged furniture can breathe new life into it and give it several more good years
7. Re-Oil Dry Wood
If furniture has been stored and becomes overly dry, you can always re-oil it. Begin by cleaning it with Murphy’s Oil Soap or another appropriate cleaner, and then prepare the surface with #0000 steel wool, always working with the grain. Liberally apply your furniture oil and let it soak into the wood for about 15 minutes. It you are going to apply a protective coating, let your furniture set for at least 24 hours before proceeding.
8. Re-Wax as Needed
Depending on the finish, some furniture may have a wax protective coating. As these pieces age it may be necessary to re-wax the surface for continued protection. Always prepare the surface with fine #0000 steel wool then wipe with a soft cloth to remove any residue. Apply a coat of wax and spread it with a Scotch Brite pad, using light pressure and always following the grain. Don’t allow the wax to set for more than 20 minutes. Remove the excess wax with a clean Scotch Brite pad, and buff with a soft cloth until the surface feels smooth to the touch.
9. Keep Wood Smelling Fresh
Sometimes older pieces will develop an unpleasant odor, especially if they’ve been stored. You can sprinkle the surface with baking soda to freshen it up, and place a pan of charcoal inside drawers to absorb smells that emanate from inside. You can even leave the piece outside in a shaded area on a warm, dry day to give relief from a malodorous stench and make your furniture good as new.
10. Remove Tough Stains
Despite your best efforts, sometimes the inevitable happens and your beautiful wood furniture gets stained. No matter what kind of stain you have, be sure to clean it as quickly as possible — the longer it sits, the harder it will be to remove.
- For white rings from wet glasses, apply a paste of equal amounts white toothpaste and baking soda. Rub it into the stain until it’s gone. Then, wipe off the furniture and buff with a dry cloth.
- For dark spots from water damage, try gently blotting the stain with a cloth soaked in vinegar.
- For crayon marks, apply mayonnaise over the area. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before rubbing clean with a damp cloth and buffing with a dry cloth.
Taking proper care of your wood furniture isn’t hard or even that time-consuming, and the reward for your effort will be a home filled with beautiful wood furniture that looks and feels as good as the day you got it — now and for years to come.