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Preserve Your Classics: How to Clean Wood Furniture

Wood furniture brings warmth, elegance, and style to any living space. However, cleaning and maintaining wood furniture can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know the proper techniques to keep it looking its best.

Keep reading to learn how to clean wood furniture, ensuring that it remains a beautiful and long-lasting addition to your home.

A person using a cloth and cleaner, one method for how to clean wood furniture

Basic Tips for Maintaining Wood Furniture

Caring for wood furniture is crucial to prolong its life and keep it looking new. By following some simple maintenance tips, you can enjoy the beauty and durability of your wood furniture for years to come.


One of the most important tips is to protect wood furniture from direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause damage, fading, and even warping.

Draw curtains or blinds during peak sunlight hours to reduce direct sun exposure. This will help maintain the color and overall appearance of the wood.


Dusting is essential when it comes to maintaining a clean and pristine appearance for wood furniture.

A key step in dusting wood furniture is to choose the right tool. A microfiber cloth is an excellent choice, as it can effectively trap dust particles without causing damage to the wood’s surface. Ensure the cloth is slightly damp, which will help capture the dust instead of spreading it back into the air.

Feather duster on a wooden table with a basket of yellow flowers

Another effective dusting tool is a feather duster, which can effectively remove dust from wood furniture without the risk of scratching the surface. Likewise, a lamb’s wool duster can also be a great option, as it can easily attract dust particles due to its natural lanolin content.


Using placemats and coasters helps prevent scratches, water stains, and heat damage. Always use protection when placing hot dishes, drinks, and other items on wood surfaces to avoid direct contact.

Deep Cleaning

While daily cleaning is essential, it is also important to periodically deep-clean wood furniture.

Applying a layer of polish or wood wax adds shine and preserves the wood finish, ensuring its longevity. Choose a good quality wood polish for regular use or wax if you prefer a more thorough and protective treatment.

Cleaning Solutions and Techniques

Homemade Cleaning Solutions

One effective homemade cleaning solution for wood furniture is a mix of mild dish soap and water. Add a drop of mild dish soap to a water-moistened cloth, then wipe the surface gently. This can help remove dirt, skin oils, and residue without damaging the wood’s finish.

Another option is to use a mixture of white vinegar and water. Combine equal parts of both in a spray bottle, lightly spritz a microfiber cloth, and carefully wipe down the furniture. This mix can help remove sticky residue and grime effectively.

Baking soda can also be useful for tackling stubborn stains. Mix a small amount with water to form a paste, gently rub the stained area with a soft cloth, and then wipe away with a damp cloth.

Non-gel toothpaste can be effective for removing minor scratches and scuff marks.

For a natural shine, try using lemon oil. Apply a few drops to a soft cloth and gently buff the wood surface.

Commercial Cleaning Products

Many commercial cleaning products are available for cleaning wood furniture. Furniture polish specifically designed for wood surfaces can help restore the luster and protect the finish.

Mineral spirits can be an effective solution for deep cleaning and removing built-up grime. However, they should be used sparingly and only on oil-based finishes as they can dissolve some types of varnish or water-based finishes.

When using commercial cleaning products, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, concentrating on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire piece.

Removing Stains and Marks

Stains and marks are bound to happen. Here are some tips to remove them and keep your wood furniture looking pristine.

Water Stains

To remove water stains, mix a paste of baking soda and water with a 1:1 ratio. Apply the paste to the stain and gently rub it with a soft dry cloth.

Water stains on wood furniture

Once the stain has disappeared, wipe the area with a clean damp cloth and dry thoroughly. To help prevent future water stains, apply a layer of furniture wax to the wood surface.

Ink Marks

Ink marks can be challenging to remove from wood furniture, but it is possible with the right approach. Place a small amount of white toothpaste on the ink mark and gently rub it with a soft cloth.

As the toothpaste lifts the ink, wipe it away with a clean damp cloth. Continue this process until the ink is no longer visible.

Once removed, apply a small amount of olive oil on a lint-free cloth to clean and protect the area where the ink was located.

Difficult Stains

For more challenging stains, dab a small amount of non-gel toothpaste onto the stain and gently rub with a soft cloth.

If the stain persists, create a 50-50 solution of detergent and warm water. Dip a clean, soft cloth into the solution and gently rub the stain, working in the direction of the wood grain.

Rinse the area with a clean damp cloth, ensuring no detergent is left behind. Finally, dry the area with a clean, lint-free cloth.

Deep Cleaning for Wood Furniture

Method for Finished Wood

Deep cleaning finished wood furniture starts with a gentle approach using dishwashing soap and warm water.

Use a soft toothbrush dipped in the soapy water solution to scrub gently in a circular motion for corners and intricate details.

Use a soft cloth to wipe the surface of the furniture. Rinse the cloth in clean water and wring it out before wiping the furniture again to remove any soap residue.

If there are sticky spots or stubborn stains, denatured alcohol can be an effective solution.

Be sure to thoroughly dry your piece of furniture after cleaning.

Method for Unfinished Wood

Avoid using soap and water to deep-clean furniture made from unfinished wood, as this can cause the wood to warp or discolor. Instead, consider using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dust and dirt from the wooden pieces.

For tricky spots and more intensive cleaning, lightly dampen a cloth with denatured alcohol and gently rub the affected area. As unfinished wood is more sensitive, avoid applying too much pressure when cleaning to avoid damage to the wood surface.

How to Clean Wood Furniture Frequently Asked Questions

How do you maintain the cleanliness of wood furniture at home?

To maintain the cleanliness of wood furniture, establish a regular cleaning routine that includes dusting, wiping with a soft damp cloth, and using the appropriate cleaning agents.

Address spills and stains immediately to prevent damage, and occasionally use a suitable wood furniture polish or wax for added protection and shine.

Which wood furniture cleaner and polish is the most effective?

The most effective wood furniture cleaner and polish depends on the type of wood and the specific needs of your furniture. Look for a product designed for wood with a good reputation, such as those specifically formulated for cleaning and polishing wood surfaces.

Using a microfiber cloth and spray cleaner on a piece of wood furniture

What should be considered when using a wood furniture cleaner spray?

Always test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area of the furniture piece to ensure compatibility and avoid potential damage. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply and remove the cleaner. Use a soft, lint-free cloth for wiping, and avoid using abrasive materials that may scratch the wood surface.

Wrapping up How to Clean Wood Furniture

Wooden furniture, if not cared for properly, may suffer from a buildup of dust, grime, and stains over time. Incorporating the best cleaning practices and techniques into your regular cleaning routine can help preserve your wood furniture and maintain its beauty for years.

Now that you know how to clean wood furniture, check out our tips for cleaning wicker furniture.