Restore White Wood Furniture from these 6 Problems

white wooden table on a deck surrounded by white wooden benches and fencing
  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100
What You'll Need
Wood Sealant
Wood Polish

White wood furniture is unique in it's ability to either beautify or horrify. When it's pristine and maintained, white wood gives an elegant, yet rustic, aesthetic. Unfortunately, because of its lily-white surface, the moment it falls victim to dirt, rot, mildew, and all the other ugly enemies of wood, that same exact furniture stands out like a sore, decrepit thumb.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to tackle each of these eyesores and restore your white wood furniture to its former glory.

1. Dust Buildup

Dust buildup is common with all types of wood furniture, and white wood is no exception. Perhaps the only difference is that the light color makes dust more apparent.

To clean dust deposits off white wood furniture, lightly dampen a sponge or nonabrasive washcloth, then proceed to gently wipe the furniture using smooth, vertical motions. You may need to put forth a little extra elbow grease if you encounter any caked-on dust.

To keep your furniture dust-free, it is generally recommended that you perform this simple procedure on a biweekly or, at the very least, weekly basis. That may sound demanding, but by doing so regularly, you'll be able to notice and address the minor buildup before it becomes a major problem.

Alternatively, the brush attachments found on many commercial vacuum cleaners can prove very effective in removing dust from wood furniture.

2. Use Vinegar on Mildew

Any mildew deposits on your white wood furniture can easily be removed with the aid of a homemade cleaning solution. Combine 1 cup of white wine vinegar with 2 cups of warm water. Pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle, and spray it onto any mildew-laden areas of your furniture. There's no need for scrubbing or vigorous abrasions. The vinegar will do its job given about 3-5 minutes to penetrate and lift the mildew.

Next, you can use a sponge or washcloth to wipe the mildew off your surface. Once the mildew has been successfully purged, use a water-dampened sponge or washcloth to wipe off any remaining cleaning solution.

Unfortunately, there's no quick preventative for this one. While it's simple enough to just dust every so often, the only effective and ongoing way to deter mold and moisture is to use a wood sealant or finish on your furniture, which is a project all its own.

3. Repair Scratches

If you own any white wood furniture that has accumulated a fair amount of scratches, you should be able to fill them with the aid of a good wood furniture polish. Although the application method will vary depending on the brand of polish you use, most wood furniture polishes are applied using an expendable cloth and vigorously rubbing any scratch-heavy areas of the surface.

Keep in mind that this polish can make your wood furniture a little slippery if used too often, so try to limit applications to no more than several times a year.

Certain types of furniture polish contain harsh chemicals that emit harmful fumes. Be sure to understand the contents of your product. Protect yourself from any potentially harmful exposure and dispose of polish-soiled rags in a manner that is safe, as the polish-soaked rags can potentially be fire hazards.

4. Remove Smudges

Smudges found on white wood furniture can be removed in the same fashion as furniture-based dust. To remove smudges, simply dampen a nonabrasive washcloth and wipe the smudged areas of your furniture using vertical strokes. After the smudges have been removed, use a dry cloth or paper towel to wipe away any remaining moisture, as this stands to give way to the formation of mildew.

5. Paint Peeling

Peeling and cracking paint can simply be scraped or chipped off in the areas it's occurred. A thorough sanding of the affected surfaces will smooth away any debris or lingering paint from a the previous, damaged coat. Sanding, and potentially an application of primer, will also create a good base for a new coat of paint to adhere to.

Simply match the same shade or white, and apply a new coat. Wait for it to dry and brush on as many subsequent coats as you think are necessary.

If this furniture is going to reside outdoors, a few coats of paint and an application of sealant can ensure that your restoration will last.

6. Wood Rot

To address wood rot, you must actually remove potentially large areas of your affected furniture and replace the gaps with epoxy.

If you're especially fortunate and your furniture has a modular construction, it may be possible to simply remove and replace the effected portion of wood in its entirety and replace it with a new, complete length.