The type of finish on the wood, not the type of
wood, determines how the custom wood furniture care and cleaning can
be done and how to repair damage; so know
what kind of finish it has. Finishes may be soft (
Tung oil or Danish oil )
or hard ( lacquer,
polyurethane ), or
If you know which finish is on your wood furniture,
follow the appropriate procedures for furniture Maintenance. Excessive dampness, dryness, heat, or
cold can damage wood furniture. Sunlight can change the color. Rubber or
plastic mats should not be used unless marked safe for wood, since some
may soften or stain the finish. Wipe up spills at once to prevent spots
that require refinishing.
Polish not more than 3-4 times a year unless it gets
heavy use, with a polish recommended for the kind of finish. Too much
polish may build up a cloudy film; wipe off polish before it dries
Do not mix types of polish. Oil causes wax to become
gummy. Clean the furniture surface thoroughly before changing furniture
care products. Now lets look at the how's of Wood furniture care and
Wood furniture Cleaning
Vacuuming with a dusting brush attachment gently
removes dust from furniture surfaces, preventing buildup. If no vacuum
cleaner, use a clean soft cloth, turning it often, or soft paper towels to
pick up dust. Dust furniture before vacuuming floors. If the finish is
water resistant, a barely dampened towel or cloth will pick up dust.
Pads, mats and coasters on furniture, mats under
vases, glasses, cups etc. protect them from spills and stains, and from
heated objects. Do not use plastic or rubber on natural wood surfaces as
they may soften and damage finish. Use felt under objects set on top of
furniture that could scratch it.
Guide to Oil Finishes on
The oil finish can have many names, from countries,
ie French, Danish, Dutch to brands. Basically cleaning oiled wood requires
you blend: 1 pint boiled linseed oil, 1 pint gum turpentine, and 6 oz.
distilled white vinegar. Gum turpentine is flammable but smells like fresh
wood. Wear gloves. Do not use around flame or spark; do not get on skin.
Wipe the surface with a soft cloth that has been dipped in the cleaning
solution. Never pour the solution directly onto the wood. Let the solution
stand for a few minutes to loosen the soil; then wipe off the excess. All
excess oil must be removed or it will attract dust and get gummy or tacky.
To finish, rub with the grain.
NEVER USE wax or furniture polish on oil
finishes. Re-oil yearly with boiled linseed oil, Tung oil, or a product
recommended by the manufacturer. These oils harden when exposed to air and
seal the wood. Never use non-drying oils like mineral oil for wood
finishes for furniture. Avoid using an oil dressing too often or too
liberally as it will cause a hardened oil build-up. If this happens, use
mineral spirits (paint thinner) to dissolve the residue.
Guide to Lacquer Furniture
To do wood furniture cleaning on a lacquer
piece remember lacquer is hard and glossy but is also brittle so it
may be dented or chipped. Avoid hard blows. Avoid use of water unless
furniture label recommends it. The newer synthetic lacquers are more
durable, however older lacquered pieces and many imports have finishes
affected by some solvents, so test every product first on an inconspicuous
Regularly you will want to dust with a soft, dry
cloth. Never use oiled or treated cloths on lacquered finishes. Some
finishes can be wiped with a damp (not wet) cloth, followed at once by
rubbing with a dry cloth, (test first in inconspicuous spot) to remove
fingerprints and smudges. A solvent-based furniture cleaner may be useable
on many finishes but always test first. Apply liquid wax on occasion to
maintain a gloss,
When heavy cleaning is called for use a solvent base
furniture cleaner. Apply with soft cloth in one hand, and wipe at once
with soft cloth in other hand, doing only a small area at a time. An oil
soap may be satisfactory on some finishes but test first to be sure it is
OK with finish. Protect with liquid wax or polish to maintain a gloss.
Guide to Polyurethane Finishes
Common known Polyurethanes are K1 type poly. I
use a European K2 poly that is liquid plastic resins that dry to a durable
satin or gloss finish. Polyurethane finishes are much more resistant to
moisture and spills and moderate heat than traditional varnishes, and do
not need much protection. Note most US manufactured furniture is NOT
Dust regularly with a soft dry cloth and wipe dry.
When needed wipe with a moist cloth, not wet. This will remove
fingerprints and light soil. When dirt or grime have built up, clean with
Wax or polish can build into an enemy. Remove it
with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits. Clean small areas at a time.
Wipe each area with a clean cloth before going on to the next. Wear rubber
gloves to protect your hands, and dispose of them afterward, or wash in
hot suds and air dry. Air-dry cloths used in cleaning to evaporate the
solvent before disposing.
Guide to Painted Furniture
Painted finish furniture requires regular dusting
with a damp cloth. When very soiled wash with a solution of mild,
non-abrasive detergent and warm water. Wring a cloth nearly dry and work
on a small section at a time, then rinse with clear water. Dry the surface
before continuing. Wood furniture care and cleaning.
Waxes and polishes are usually not needed. If waxes
are used, use a white creamy type on light painted items to avoid
discoloration. Never use oil or any polish containing oil. Avoid oil
treated cloths. Hand rubbing any polish can damage painted decoration or
Painted surfaces can be carefully touched up with
matching paint but the results often look patched. Where possible try to
remove spots and scuff marks by washing or cleaning with household
cleaners. Sanding will change the luster of the sanded spot, especially if
the finish has been antiqued. If extensive damage has been done, the piece
will need repainting.
I hope this page on
furniture care and cleaning has help you in understanding your fine wood
furniture Maintenance whether it is custom made or a fine antique.
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