Furniture Polish and Scratch Remover FAQs

a hand sanding a wooden table

The idea behind furniture polish for wood products is to absorb oil into the wood. Many oils commonly found in our kitchens work very well. Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil and Lemon Juice. Mix 2 parts oil and 1 part lemon juice. Apply and polish with a soft cloth. This leaves furniture looking and smelling good.

Unfinished Wood

Apply some mineral oil sparingly with a soft cloth. For lemon oil polish, dissolve one teaspoon of lemon oil into one pint of mineral oil. Be careful with this substance—mineral oil is flammable.

Caution: Mineral spirits should never be substituted for mineral oil, as it can be dangerous when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.


Mix equal pans white vinegar and warm water. Wipe onto wood and then polish with a chamois cloth.

Grease Spots

Immediately pour salt on the grease spot to absorb grease and prevent staining.


Mix equal pans of lemon juice and vegetable oil. Rub into scratches with a soft cloth until scratches disappear.

Water Spots

To remove water marks, rub gently with toothpaste on a damp cloth.

Washing Wood

Dampen cloth with a solution of water and mild soap, such as Ivory or Murphy's Oil Soap. Wring the cloth almost dry and wipe the furniture section by section, drying with a clean dry cloth as you go so that no section stays wet.

Refinishing Old Furniture

Before you set to work on an old piece of furniture with chemical finish removers, try vegetable oil soap. This simple, nontoxic solvent may be all the help an antique needs. Follow label directions.

This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension.