Cleaning

Put Down the All-Purpose Spray—Here’s How to Clean Wood Furniture

It’s simpler than you think to clean and preserve.

July  8, 2021
Photo by Mark Weinberg

For centuries, wood has endured as the most popular material for crafting furniture. It’s durable, naturally beautiful, and can be designed to suit just about any style. Most importantly, though, wood furniture is low maintenance and doesn’t require much effort to keep it in tip-top shape.

But low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance, so it’s important to know how to clean your wood furniture if you want it to last. With just a little bit of regular upkeep, you’ll certainly be able to pass your wood furniture down to your grandchildren. From dusting to removing water stains, here’s everything you need to know.

Dusting

It might sound obvious, but frequent dusting is key when it comes to maintaining your wood furniture. Dust buildup not only causes irritating allergies, but also results in a filmy layer on the surface that can leave scratches on the wood.

To properly dust your wood furniture, use a tool that will cling to the dust and fully remove it rather than spreading it around or into the air. Consider a classic feather duster or a slightly damp, lint-free microfiber cloth for the job.

Cleaning

We love an all-purpose cleaning spray as much as the next person, but that’s one product you should completely avoid when it comes to cleaning wood furniture. Even a mild all-purpose cleaner contains chemicals that could erode the finish and damage the material.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“the furniture cleaning is fine, but can we talk about those tables?? they are beautiful! where can I buy them? ”
— Beena
Comment

Instead, grab that same damp microfiber cloth from your dusting routine and add a bit of clear dish soap to eliminate any film that’s accumulated or to wipe up any sticky mess. Make sure the cloth is barely wet to avoid any warping or rings caused by an excess of water. Then, dry the entire piece with a soft, clean cloth.

Deep Cleaning

When the grime is too intense for just dish soap (think: years of dirt on an antique piece), mineral spirits should be your next step. Bring your piece to a well-ventilated area and test out the product on a small, insignificant area before committing to using it for the entire surface. As long as you don’t see any discoloration, dip a microfiber cloth in mineral spirits and wipe the rest of the piece down. Then, use a damp microfiber cloth to mop away any residue. Try Gamsol if the filth is thick.

Waxing

Once you’ve sufficiently cleaned your wood furniture, you may want to prevent future damage. A protective layer of furniture wax will do just that, preserving the original finish and reducing scratches. Choose a trusted product, like Daddy Van’s All Natural Unscented Beeswax or Howard Products Feed-N-Wax, and apply in light coats using cheesecloth. Make sure to rub in the direction of the grain as you go and wipe off any excess with a fresh cloth.

Removing Water Stains

If you (or your guests) have been playing it fast and loose with coasters, you might have water stains and rings on your wood furniture. Home remedies—like applying heat with a hairdryer, scrubbing with non-gel, non-whitening toothpaste, and allowing mayonnaise or petroleum jelly to seep in—often work in this case.

What are your tricks for cleaning wood furniture? Let us know in the comments!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

Grab your copy

It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

Grab your copy

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

2 Comments

Holley September 16, 2021
I clicked on the article for the same reason! those tables are beautiful!
 
Beena September 5, 2021
the furniture cleaning is fine, but can we talk about those tables?? they are beautiful! where can I buy them?