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All the Ways You Should Be Cleaning Your Wood Furniture, but Aren’t

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Photo: Evg Zhul (Shutterstock)

The cleaning products aisle of the supermarket has plenty of options for cleansing and polishing wood furniture. And while those formulated for use on wood get the job done, you don’t always need a dedicated product to get your mahogany desk or oak chairs gleaming. Here are some other ways you can clean wood—many of which involve items you may already have at home.

How to clean wood furniture with household items

As always, if your wood furniture is new enough to come with instructions from the manufacturer on how to clean it, follow those. Also, keep in mind that a lot of modern “wood” furniture gets its look from laminate or veneer, which may have different care instructions than solid wood.

Your best bet is to use a microfiber cloth when cleaning wood, because the material’s tiny fibers are able to grab more dirt and dust than other types of fabric. And start out with at least two (but ideally more), making sure to keep one dry.

Here are a few methods for cleaning wood furniture:

Routine/light cleaning

If you’re cleaning wood furniture that’s currently being used or displayed in your home (as opposed to a piece you bought at a yard sale and have to deep-clean), wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth, buffing out fingerprints or smudges as you go.

For stubborn sticky spots, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth and gently rub the sticky area until it’s gone. If it still won’t budge, mix a small amount of dish soap with warm water, dampen your cloth in that, and repeat the steps above.

Toothpaste

Apply a light layer of non-gel toothpaste to a water ring or stain on wood furniture. Let it sit for five minutes (but not more than that, so the toothpaste doesn’t stain the wood itself). Then, buff it out using a dry microfiber cloth, being careful to only rub in the water stain itself, avoiding the surrounding wood as much as possible.

Mayonnaise

Like toothpaste, mayo can also be used for water and trapped moisture stains on wood furniture. Use your finger or a spatula to apply the mayo to the stains in a circular motion. Let it sit for an hour, then check part of the stain to see if it’s gone. If it is, remove the mayo with one cloth, and then dry the areas with another.

DIY dusting and cleansing spray

Looking for a solution you can make yourself and have on hand for routine cleaning? You may want to mix up a batch of this:

  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon mineral oil or coconut oil
  • 15 drops of lemon oil

Pour the ingredients into an empty spray bottle, and shake well (both initially, and before each use). To use it, just spray it on wood furniture, and use a microfiber cloth to wipe it off.

DIY cleansing polish

Want to clean your grimy wood and make it shine? Mix equal parts olive oil, denatured alcohol, gum turpentine, and strained lemon juice for a DIY polish. Then apply it with a microfiber cloth, and buff it with a separate clean, dry microfiber cloth.


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