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How to Clean Wood Furniture the Right Way

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Wood furniture can hold up for decades. However, its lifespan depends on the type of lumber, whether it's kiln-dried for durability, the joinery style, how much use it gets and whether it's properly maintained.

If you want your furnishings to last a long time and continue looking nice, it's up to you to care for them the right way. This guide will cover how to clean wood furniture with regular dusting and occasional polishing, as well as how to wash wood furniture without damaging the material.

How Often Should You Clean Wood Furniture?

Generally speaking, you should dust each piece at least once a week – this will prevent buildup of dirt, debris and other small particles that could scratch the material. Wash wood furniture, every couple of weeks to keep it free of grime and sticky residues while maintaining a clean, uniform finish.

Our Ultimate Household Chore List can help you divvy up this task and other to-dos for keeping your home in tip-top shape.

Regularly Cleaning Wood Furniture

Find step-by-step guidance and helpful tips on how to clean wood furniture below.

How to Dust Wood Furniture

You can dust wood furniture with a soft cloth, handheld microfiber dusting tool or a classic feather duster.

- Run the cloth or dusting tool across all exposed wood on the furniture, including the arms, legs and surface.

- Go over the wood once more with a clean cloth to buff out the finish and create a subtle shine.

Here's a rundown of all the Living Room Essentials you need beyond furniture.

How to Wash Wood Furniture

When people talk about washing wood furnishings, they don't mean completely saturating the material with liquid. Follow these steps to deep-clean your furniture without causing moisture damage.

- Fill a small bowl or bucket with lukewarm water. Add a drizzle of dishwashing soap, and mix it together.

- Dip a clean, soft cloth into the soapy solution. Thoroughly wring out the cloth so it's just damp, not soaking wet.

- Gently run the damp cloth across all exposed wood, including the legs, arms and surface.

- Go over the entire surface again with a clean, dry cloth to ensure the wood doesn't absorb too much moisture.

You can also purchase a wood furniture cleaner and use it instead of this DIY solution.

Upholstery Cleaning

It's easy to refresh wood furniture with regular dusting and washing, but in terms of cleaning a sofa or chairs with fabric upholstery, you'll need to use a different technique.

Vacuum the material weekly to remove dust, crumbs and debris. For deeper cleans, use an upholstery-specific cleaner or the same lukewarm water and dishwashing soap solution mentioned above.

- Dip a cloth or sponge into the solution and thoroughly wring it out.

- Run the cloth or sponge over the upholstery, focusing on particularly soiled or discolored areas.

- Dampen another cloth or sponge with non-soapy water, and run it over the upholstery to "rinse" the material.

- Allow your furniture to air-dry. Hot air (such as a blow dryer) should be avoided to prevent the fabric from shrinking.

You can also wash a sofa with a steam cleaner. If you don't have the tools or just aren't up for it, a professional upholstery cleaning service might be the way to go.

Here are 35 Stylish and Functional Living Room Sofa Ideas to consider.

Polishing and Stain Removal

Now that you know how to clean wood furniture, let's go over polishing and stain removal.

Polishing Wood Furniture

One of the best ways to refresh a wood table, chairs, shelving unit or sofa frame is with wood-specific furniture polish. Oil-based formulas are the most common, but you'll also find some wax-based options.

- Apply a small amount of polish to a clean, soft cloth.

- Gently work it into the wood using small circular motions.

- Buff the surface until it looks smooth, uniform and shiny.

Table linens can help protect your dining room furniture from scratches, stains and moisture damage. Check out the Best Tablecloth and Table Runner Materials, Colors and Sizes, then explore these Table Linen Styling Tips.

Removing Spills and Pet Messes

Spilled drinks, pet mess, baby spit-up and other liquid spills should be wiped away or blotted up immediately to prevent stains. Use a soft, dry cloth or a paper towel to soak up the liquid before it absorbs into the wood. Then to sanitize the material and remove stickiness, use a damp cloth with a mild soapy solution or a cleaner specially formulated for washing wood furniture.

Removing Stains From Wood Furniture

Find tips and guidance for removing various stains from wood furniture below.

How to Remove Water Marks From Wood Furniture

Even when you regularly clean a wood table, there may still be stubborn cup rings, streaks or other water marks on the surface. While it's best to address these marks as soon as possible, there's still hope for removing existing stains.

One option is to apply a small amount of olive oil or an oil-based wood furniture polish to the rings or streaks. Let it sit for a half hour, then buff it away.

Alternatively, you can apply plain, gel-free toothpaste to a soft cloth and rub it into the mark until it fades or vanishes completely. Then remove any remaining toothpaste residue with a clean, damp cloth.

Coasters offer a decorative solution to preventing cup rings. Here are more Stylish and Functional Kitchen Table Decor Ideas to explore.

How to Remove Sticky Residues From Wood Furniture

If you're trying to clean wooden chairs or other furniture that has a sticky residue, start by gently scraping off the substance with a plastic spatula or a putty knife. Next, apply a small amount of oil-based polish or olive oil to a clean, soft cloth. Gently rub the sticky residue until it comes off onto the cloth.

How to Remove Old Polish From Wood Furniture

Need to clean wood chairs, a dining table or a coffee table with an old waxy polish or an oil-based finish? Try using mineral spirits (also known as mineral turpentine or petroleum spirits).

Wearing gloves and a mask in a well-ventilated area, apply a small amount of mineral spirits to a clean, soft cloth. Then buff it into the wood in the direction of the grain until the polish transfers onto the cloth.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew From Wood Furniture

Mold and mildew are not only tricky to remove, but they also present a health hazard. Before attempting to clean wooden furniture, move it outside to keep the spores from spreading around your home. Place it in your garage or shed if the weather is wet, or at the very least, open the windows.

  1. Wearing gloves and a mask, suck up the dry mold and mildew with your vacuum's upholstery attachment.

  2. To kill any remaining live mold, apply a DIY solution of equal parts water and distilled white vinegar. Rubbing alcohol or disinfectant spray can also work.

  3. Scrub away the mold and mildew with a soft-bristled brush, then "rinse" with a clean, damp cloth.

If these methods don't work to clean your sofa, chairs, table or storage unit, getting rid of the moldy furniture may be the wisest, healthiest solution.

Knowing When to Replace Wood Furniture

Although knowing how to clean wood furniture is crucial, you should also know when to replace it. Small dents, scratches and other minor imperfections are often part of the appeal of a time-worn piece. But if the frame is splitting, cracking or broken beyond repair, it's best to purchase something new.

Additionally, pieces with permanently bent or uneven legs should probably be replaced. And as noted, if you're unable to remove mold and mildew from the material, the best option is to get it out of your home.

For more on this topic, see our guide on When to Replace Furniture. Then read our blog to learn How to Donate, Recycle and Dispose of Old Furniture.

Where to Buy High-Quality Wood Furniture

In the market for new furnishings for your living room or bedroom? Start your search here. The furniture collection from Parachute includes high-quality sofas, accent chairs, coffee tables, side tables, benches, bed frames and nightstands. Each piece is thoughtfully designed and handcrafted with a wood frame featuring mortise-and-tenon joinery.

Browse the selection today. And if anything catches your eye, you can order wood and upholstery furniture swatches to see and feel the materials for yourself.

Read Next:

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