Wood Furniture and Cleaning Wood Furniture and Cleaning

The type of finish on the wood, not the type of wood, determines how to care for it, clean it, and repair damage; so know what kind of finish it has. Finishes may be soft ( oiled ) or hard ( lacquer, shellac, varnish, or polyurethane ), or painted. Ask when buying new furniture.

If you know which finish is on your wood furniture, follow the appropriate procedures. Excessive dampness, dryness, heat, or cold can damage wood furniture. Sunlight can change the color. Rubber or plastic mats should not be used unless marked safe for wood, since some may soften or stain the finish. Wipe up spills at once to prevent spots that require refinishing.

Polish not more than 3-4 times a year unless it gets heavy use, with a polish recommended for the kind of finish. Too much polish may build up a cloudy film; wipe off polish before it dries completely.

Do not mix types of polish. Oil causes wax to become gummy. Clean the furniture surface thoroughly before changing furniture care products.

Regular Cleaning

Vacuuming with a dusting brush attachment gently removes dust from furniture surfaces, preventing buildup. If no vacuum cleaner, use a clean soft cloth, turning it often, or soft paper towels to pick up dust. Dust furniture before vacuuming floors. If the finish is water resistant, a barely dampened towel or cloth will pick up dust.

Pads, mats and coasters on furniture, mats under vases, glasses, cups etc. protect them from spills and stains, and from heated objects. Do not use plastic or rubber on natural wood surfaces as they may soften and damage finish. Use felt under objects set on top of furniture that could scratch it.

Test For Existing Finish on Furniture

Rub a few drops of boiled linseed oil into the wood
If it absorbs, the wood has an oil finish.
If it beads up, the wood has a hard finish
(continue)
Rub acetone over a spot in a gentle, circular motion
Polyurethane finishes shed acetone like water
Lacquer dissolves in 30 seconds with rubbing.
Varnishes and shellacs turn to a sticky, gel-like substance after a minute or two (continue)
Try a few drops of denatured alcohol
Shellac dissolves quickly in denatured alcohol
Varnish reacts slowly

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