Furniture Cleaning & Maintaining Tips

A careful wash for hardwood furniture is in order when it begins to look clouded and scummy in spite of conscientious dusting and polishing. You can choose between warm water with a mild white soap or unbuilt synthetic detergent, or a furniture wash that you can easily mix yourself. Old wax can be removed by applying liquid wax generously and wiping the surface promptly. Special cleaners are also made for furniture but sticky accumulations must be dissolved with water.

Soap and water, properly used, will not harm most finishes, but de luxe lacquered furniture, such as pianos, require special treatment. For other finishes, squeeze a soft cloth out of light suds to make it as dry as possible. Wash a small area, rinse it with clear water, again using a well squeezed cloth, and wipe dry.

Move on to an adjacent part and continue until the piece has been completely cleaned. And renew your suds as they go flat A soft brush inside the cloth will help on carved wood. This work must be done carefully and quickly because water should not stay on the furniture more than a moment or two. When it has dried completely, buff it to a lustrous finish with your favorite polish.


A whitish bloom after washing appears sometimes on furniture with a poor finish. Polishing usually corrects this. On varnished surfaces you can try wiping the furniture with a soft cloth moistened with pure raw linseed oil. For a shellacked piece use a cloth barely dampened with alcohol, wiping the surface very lightly in order not to remove any of the finish. Polish afterwards. The chances are that you will not know what the finish is, but if the furniture has been waxed, this makes little difference.

For the fine new piano finishes manufacturers rule out all washes, all polishes, and even the usual dusters. If the finish looks dull wipe it with an old, well-washed piece of chamois leather that is damp (not wet) and then remove the moisture with a second piece of dry soft chamois. New chamois leathers should be soaked in water for twenty-four hours before being used on a piano. If chamois is not available, dampened cheesecloth can be used.

Furniture polishes fall into two main classes, oils and waxes. Both have their advocates. After choosing the type you want to use, continue with it or you may find yourself in trouble. Even a little oil polish on a treated duster can gum up a waxed finish.

Both types are good if they are used correctly. Oil polishes however should be avoided for blonde finishes because they tend to make wood a little dark. Select a light colored wax. Some polishes clean as they go; always read and follow the directions given for the kind you select.

Apply polish sparingly. Whether you decide upon oil or wax for your furniture, the first thing to remember is that it should be applied very sparingly. If too much is used it will be difficult to achieve a fine polish. It is better for the furniture, and easier for you, to apply a second thin coating if this seems desirable, than to struggle with a heavy application that has made the finish sticky.

Rub polish well. The second thing to remember is that there is no substitute for hard rubbing; do only a few pieces at a time. After you have applied a thin coating of polish, let it stand a little while (consult the directions for your brand), then rub it with the grain of the wood until a clean finger leaves no mark. Finish with a soft flannel polisher, putting a brush inside the cloth for a good job on carved surfaces. And if you want the best results possible on chests and desks, you should take the handles off the drawers.

With only a little effort each week, beautiful furniture can enhance nearly every room of the house.

Tags: cleaning, furniture

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.