Different wood treatments affect how the furniture should be cleaned, so make sure you know what was done before you try. Some wooden furniture, such as those which have been lacquered, cannot absorb oil. Untreated woods, however, such as teak and rosewood need yearly applications of furniture oil to maintain their finish.
An occasional application of furniture oil helps maintain this woods warm, soft, natural glow but never apply wax to oil-finished items! This is because the wax blocks the pores of the wood, causing it to dry out and become brittle.
To remove any white marks, such as the rings left by wet tumblers, try rubbing them off using toothpaste applied to a dry cloth. Alternatively, try rubbing with a mild abrasive, like baking soda, salt, ash or pumice and a little oil such as olive oil, cooking oil or petroleum jelly.
For painted wood furniture, be careful how you clean as some polishes and wax treatments can damage the finish or ruin the color.
The best way is to regularly vacuum the item using a brush attachment and to wipe occasionally with a sponge dipped in a warm, mild dishwashing solution to remove smudges and finger marks.
Remember to sponge down in clean water only after applying the detergent and then to wipe over again with a towel to dry it off.
To get at those awkward crevices, tape a small piece of sponge to the end of a pencil, apply a little neat detergent to the dirty area, dampen the sponged tip with warm water and then wipe away at the mark. When finished rinse and dry off as before.
Though I personally wouldn’t advise it, if you really feel you must wax your painted furniture, only use a hard paste wax and apply this no more than once a year.
Before you attempt this – be warned! Do not try to polish any furniture built in the last 15 years or so unless you have checked with the manufacture that it is safe to do so!
Why’s this? You ask.
Well, the reason is that most recent wood furniture has a protective polyurethane finish and it’s important that this doesn’t get waxed. This is because the wax cannot penetrate the layer and simply builds up on the surface as a ghostly, dirty mess.
You should also never apply wax to wood that has previously been cleaned with a Pledge-type silicone based spray, or vice versa. This is because the wax and silicone chemically combine to produce a sticky, opaque film that is literally impossible to remove without professionally refinishing the table. Though wax is great for older wooden items, be very wary to apply to it to modern polished furniture.
If you’re 100 percent confident you will not ruin anything, then any commercial polish will do. Don’t forget to double check by doing a test patch first on a part not easily seen.
When choosing a product, ensure that is appropriate for the finish of your furniture. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter! Paste wax is recommended for antiques and gives a harder, longer-lasting finish than spray or liquid polish.
Here are a couple of other top tips.
You can avoid leaving finger marks while you polish by wearing a pair of white cotton gloves. It’s also a good idea to sprinkle a little cornstarch over the surface of your recently polished furniture and once done, simply rub it in with a soft dry cloth. The cornstarch soaks up any excess oil or wax, leaving your item with a lovely, high-gloss finish.
Another great finishing tip is to try wiping the furniture with a cloth dipped in neat, cold tea, and then buff it dry again with a second soft cloth.
To remove white rings or spots on polished wood, apply some mayonnaise to the area and let it sit for an hour. Once it has been left, wipe it off with a soft cloth and polish.
Finally, a few words about specialty woods like wicker, rattan, bamboo, cane, and rush.
Simply vacuum them regularly with the brush attachment and, with the exception of rush, occasionally rinse these woods with water to moisten the fibers. This can’t be done with rush because it is easily damaged by water, so always keep it dry.
To tighten cane seats, spray the unvarnished side with water, and then allow them to dry naturally. Do let us know if you have more tips on how to clean wood furniture.
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