An enduring love affair between homeowners and their wooden furniture has existed forever. Attracted by its beauty and toughness, furniture lovers also have appreciated wood’s easy maintenance, which regularly requires little more than dusting. But over time a messy sludgy grime can slowly set in. And that means a serious cleaning. What to do then?
Experts say to use a minimal amount of household cleaner or some mild dish soap with water and apply it onto an inconspicuous part of the furniture, such as the inside of a chair leg. If the detergent mars the finish, continue without the detergent. If the test area shows no evidence of damage, then proceed. Mix water and detergent in a bucket and use this solution to sponge down the entire piece. Be careful not to soak the wood! Brush the sponge lightly over the wood surface and don’t let the liquid linger for long. Dry thoroughly.
Here are some further maintenance tips:
- After a good cleaning, protect the finish with a quality soft paste wax, applying a thin coat. Wait five minutes before buffing lightly with a soft brush or cloth. Wait 30 to 60 minutes and buff or brush again with more zeal. A pretty shine returns to the finish lasting for months. Wood cannot be enriched with polishes or oils. Once covered with a protective finish, the wood is sealed. Polishes and oils won’t penetrate it.
- To remove hazy rings left from hot coffee mugs or perspiring glasses, rub in a mild abrasive, such as non-gel toothpaste mixed with baking soda or cooking oil mixed with ashes. Another way is to place a soft cloth over the spot and iron it carefully for 10 to 20 seconds at a time with the iron on a medium setting. Turn the iron up a tad if needed. Always keep the iron moving and check progress frequently.
- Keep wooden furniture out of the sun. The summer sun beating through a window can rise above 140 degrees, “cooking” fine finishes that will eventually dry out and shrink the wood, causing cracks. With the same vigilance, don’t place wood furniture near heating units or vents. Use a humidifier in the drier months to bring the moisture up.
If you’re wishing to restore or refinish an older or antique wooden piece to its once-youthful state, it’s important to get advice from a knowledgeable professional or leave more extensive work to them.
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