Tips for cleaning your wooden furniture

Your home is furnished with items made from a number of materials, and each one requires different care. Bypass the chemical-based cleaners and polishes, and consider using gentle, everyday ingredients to keep all your furniture bright and clean.

Tips for cleaning your wooden furniture

Start by removing the old chemical-based cleaners from under the kitchen sink and replacing them with some of the many natural, safe cleaning products available at your local drugstore.

Antique wood

  • Never expose antique wood to direct sun or treat with conventional polishes; because of its age, it's particularly delicate.
  • Rather than using oils that can degrade the finish over time, polish antique furnishings with beeswax — available from a hardware store — specifically made to treat antique wood for long-lasting protection.

Wooden furniture

Maintain your wood furniture based on the type of wood it's made of and how it was manufactured. How you should treat veneered furniture is based on the type of veneer. If unsure, check with the manufacturer.

  • Give shine to teak or rosewood with a mix of 300 millilitres (1 1/4 cups) of beer, 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of melted beeswax, and 10 millilitres (two teaspoons) of sugar. Apply thinly with a brush, let dry, and buff with a wool cloth.
  • Bring out the grain and colouration of walnut by rubbing it occasionally with milk. Rubbing scratches in this versatile wood with a walnut cut in half really works wonders.
  • Make dull ebony shine like new by rubbing it with petroleum jelly. Let it sit for a few minutes, remove the excess, and buff with a wool cloth.
  • Maintain oak by applying warm beer, then going over it with a wool rag. Remove stubborn soil stains carefully with fine sandpaper. Rub the remaining stains with turpentine and apply another coat of protective varnish.
  • Untreated or dulled wood is porous; grease from your hands can be easily transferred to the wood. When a grease or oil stain appears, press a cheesecloth on it, and then apply a warm iron to help loosen and absorb the stain.
  • Make a polishing mixture for maintaining untreated or varnished wood. Melt 300 millilitres (1 1/4 cups) of beeswax in a double boiler, let it cool a little, stir in 300 millilitres (1 1/4 cups) of turpentine, and let it harden. Apply sparingly to the surface with a rag and buff with a clean cloth.
  • Rub water stains with toothpaste — you can even mix in some baking soda. For light-coloured wood, try rubbing a Brazil nut over the spot. For dark wood, it's better to dab a mixture of ashes and vegetable oil onto the stains with a cork.
  • Remove rings left by glasses by mixing a little butter with mayonnaise and a little ash and rubbing it on the affected area.
  • Treat scratches by matching the colour to the wood. If light-coloured, remove scratches with petroleum jelly or a mixture of five millilitres (one teaspoon) of oil and five millilitres (one teaspoon) of vinegar. For dark wood, substitute red wine for the vinegar.
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