HOW TO CLEAN WOOD FURNITURE
Wooden furniture can be a cherished heirloom or a favourite chair or table. No matter what the furniture each family or person has a piece of wooden furniture that we love and wish to keep intact for a long time. Keeping wooden furniture clean and maintaining it can be hard as wood has a tendency of accumulating dust, grease and dirt.
WHY IS WOODEN FURNITURE PRONE TO DUST AND DAMAGE:
Wood is prone to collecting dirt and grease from the environment. It also has a tendency of slowly losing its sheen due to wear or loss of polish wooden furniture can get easily stained as it has a tendency of absorbing the oils or water thus they can easily stain specially if not polished and cleaned regularly.
PREVENTING DIRT ACCUMULATION AND DAMAGE TO YOUR WOODEN FURNITURE:
There are a number of factors that contribute to dirtying and damage to you wooden furniture. The most common cause is the neglect in caring for this furniture.
Wooden furniture requires regular dusting, cleaning , varnish and waxing so as to keep its sheen and to prevent damage to the furniture.
Storing furniture improperly as in a dirty are or not covering them while storage , exposure to moisture , humidity and light and rodents can all lead to damage and destruction of wooden furniture.
STEPS TO KEEP YOUR WOODEN FURNITURE CLEAN AND INTACT:
- Dusting: dusting is a must to keep your furniture clean and free from dust. Dusting ensures that your furniture doesn’t accumulate dust and remains clean. Dusting wooden furniture once daily or at least 2-3 times in a week is a good idea. You could use a rag cloth, a feather duster or a brush to keep the dirt away. While a feather duster will clean large surfaces it can get into the corners and crevices this can be done with a brush or a cloth.
- Soap and water: you must not use soap and water on a regular basis as it can stain and damage the wood use soap and water sparingly to get rid of hard stains. Clean immediately with a dry cloth to avoid staining.
- Commercial cleaners: they contain powerful ingredients that can help clean you wooden furniture and leave it with a clean sheen. However the disadvantage of these cleaners is that they can contain chemicals. Thus use then sparingly, in an open space and keep away from skin and children.
- Homemade cleaners: there are a number of home made products that can be used to clean the wooden surface. These work nearly as well as the commercial products and are safe to use.
NON TOXIC NATURE PRODUCTS THAT CAN BE USED TO CLEAN WOODEN FURNITURE:
Although a number of commercial products are available in the market that can be used to clean wooden furniture these products may contain chemicals that may be a health hazard. There area number of products that are available at home which you can use to clean wooden furniture.
- Vinegar : acidic in nature it cuts through grease and grime and is great at removing oily stains and hard to remove greasy deposits.
- Lime juice: another acidic product with an action similar to vinegar with the positive of a great smell.
- Olive oil: can be used to clean furniture and the oil also leaves your wooden furniture with a great polish.
- Turpentine and linseed oil: the mixture is a powerful cleaner, it cuts through the grime and leave you furniture with a great polish. The only disadvantage is the pungent odour.
TIPS TO GET RID OF COMMON STAINS AND DIRT:
- Dirt and grime: you could dust the surface and then use a mixture of turpentine and vinegar or olive oil and lime juice to clean the surface.
- Removing dark moisture stains: use a mild abrasive such as sand paper and try to remove the surface layer, however make sure you do not damage the surface or create an uneven surface, 2-3 rubs should be enough. Then proceed to cleaning with the above agents and apply varnish.
WOOD & MOISTURE
Furniture is also affected by humidity. Wood expands and contracts as the moisture in the air changes. The ideal range (but not the only expectable range) for relative humidity (RH) is between 45 and 55 percent. If a dramatic change occurs in the RH it is possible that furniture may experience shrinkage damage and warping.
Finish and veneer detachment is also a possibility. Furniture exposed to high humidity levels for a prolonged period of time may experience mold growth and insect infestation. Avoid placing furniture in attics, basements or any area in the home that may experience extreme temperature or RH changes. For wood furniture cleaning, read this guide.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FURNITURE POLISH AND FURNITURE POLISH
Furniture Polish includes a broad rage of products, from paste wax, liquid wax, lemon oil, spray polish, cream polish, this polish, that polish, etc., etc., etc. The list is never ending and can be very confusing.
It seems like anything you put on your furniture falls into the furniture polish category. Not to complicate things further but there is another group of furniture care products that also belong in this category.
They are the furniture revivers, burnishing polish, polishing creams, polishing liquids, waxes that wax…and polish?! How can this be? How can they be so different…and the same? Now I’m confused! I just wanted a furniture polish!
FURNITURE POLISH FOR WOOD FURNITURE CARE
Technically, each of the products that I have mentioned are a furniture polish. That is, they will all make the furniture’s surface smooth (or appear smooth) and glossy. However, most people, when they think of furniture polish, are thinking of the “furniture polish” that they can hold in their hand and spray on the furniture. Yes, of course, a furniture polish! Don’t you wish it was that simple? It isn’t. It is.
I’ll explain: Keep in mind that to “polish” something means to make the surface smooth and glossy. An example would be the results produced after polishing your silver or jewelry. This type of polish requires some kind of mechanical participation in order to be successful. It can be applied and buffed by hand or machine but the physical act must be carried out in order to achieve success. Furniture revivers and burnishing creams fit into this category and have at least one of two key ingredients in common.
They will have some type of burnishing agent, like pumice powder for instance or a chemical like mineral spirits. Some will have both and some will use a water base rather than a chemical base. Whatever the formula, the coarseness of the burnishing agent and/or how aggressive the chemical is, will determine how quickly a smooth, glossy surface will appear.
There are many considerations when choosing one of these products…far too many to mention here. In the context of this discussion, it is important to note the difference between these polishes and the more familiar group of “furniture polishes” that I will describe in a moment. The aforementioned polishes however, will actually affect the finished surface. They [restore] reflective clarity by removing surface scratches, scuff marks and white ring marks that obscure the view of the wood below.
THERE ARE OTHER FURNITURE POLISHES
The other and more familiar furniture polish; spray polish, oil polish, cream polish, paste wax, liquid wax, etc., all [restore] reflective clarity to some degree. However, they do this by obscuring the scratches, rather than removing them, giving the [impression] of a smooth, glossy surface. A furniture polish that contains wax and a furniture polish that contains oil i.e. mineral (aka lemon oil), both “fill” the scratches, “leveling the surface”, so that the light reflected back is less diffused.
This effect tricks the eye into thinking that the surface is smooth and shinny, when actually nothing has changed except the esthetic value.
That is unless you use a furniture polish that contains wax, in which case you have also added a degree of surface protection. Mineral oil based furniture polish offers NO surface protection whatsoever and once the oil has evaporated, so goes the effect.
Furniture polish containing wax does not do this because a thin coat of wax is left behind, which does not evaporate. The wax creates a barrier coat, protecting the surface, allowing whatever is set on the wax to move across it, rather than the finish. This added protection helps guard against white ring marks and scuff marks that over time will obscure the finish and the view of the wood.
POLISHING FURNITURE WITHOUT HURTING THE WAX
Is there a way to maintain a paste wax and liquid wax finish with a spray polish, without harming it? Yes, there are two ways.
The first is a professional trick and still requires that you are careful. Rather than spraying the furniture polish directly on the surface, spray it on the polishing cloth. A soft cotton cloth is perfect! When you do this two things happen. Some of the solvent will absorb into the cloth and the rest will evaporate, leaving only the wax and a little solvent vapor.
If you are careful, you will be touching the surface with only the wax that is left on the polishing cloth. If this approach causes too much trepidation, I know of one another professional trick that is much easier. In fact, you could do it with your eyes closed! Try using The Furniture Butler Patina Protector or similar product. Patina Protector contains NO solvent and is non-hazardous and safe for ALL finishes. In fact, it will actually increase the performance and protection of all waxed surfaces. Just spray it on the surface or a cloth and wipe. Voila, a safe, easy and worry-free furniture polish. You see, it is that simple.
TIPS ON HOW TO CARE FOR ANTIQUE FURNITURE
When developing a preservation plan for your antique furniture, furniture paste wax is a useful tool in reducing wear and detouring effects from the elements. It is not the definitive factor that makes up a successful furniture care plan. Remember, wood is a natural substance and reacts to environmental changes. Light and humidity are two other factors that must be considered. Their affects on furniture can be devastating.
Ultraviolet (UV) light is particularly harmful and causes irreversible damage. The light and increased temperature accelerates the degradation of finishes and colorants. Damage, in severe cases, can only be restored after stripping and refinishing.
This loss of “patina” can greatly affect the value of your furniture, particularly if it is an antique. Furniture should be moved out of the direct sunlight. Blinds and curtains are helpful in diffusing the intensity of sunlight, but museum grade window film is the best.
There are window films available today that are clear and provide 99.9% protection from harmful UV rays, as well as significantly reducing temperature levels in the home.
HOW TO CLEAN LEATHER FURNITURE – TIPS AND GUIDELINES
Buying leather furniture is sometimes daunting because thinking of after-care can lead people to think that it is hard to look after; here are some tips on how to clean leather furniture. Maintaining your furniture does not have to be costly you only need to know the correct way on how to do it and also more importantly not to damage it by cleaning it.
Most people do not know how to clean leather furniture properly and end up causing more damage than good when cleaning out any spillages or stains. This is because if you do it the wrong way you could end up scratching the leather or causing it to fade in patchy areas.
Cleaning Leather and Leather Care is an easy task that should never be overlooked. Leather demands, at the very least, the same consideration that is given to all fine wood furniture and should be cared for and maintained on a regular basis. Leather care performed correctly will preserve the natural beauty and suppleness of the leather, while extending it’s life dramatically. Neglecting your leather can prove very costly, particularly if it is antique leather.
Having to replace any leather because of neglect is costly and tragic but if it is antique leather, it can be devastating, as all of the historic value is lost.
ABOUT LEATHER / LEATHER CARE TIPS
Leather is a porous material but very durable and because of this quality there is a tendency to neglect it. Unfortunately, because of the leathers porosity, it is vulnerable to contaminants such as dust, dirt, grease, grime, smoke, perspiration and other environmental toxins. These toxins can settle on the surface of the leather and potentially damage or discolor it.
Eventually, if neglect or poor maintenance continues, the toxins will migrate into the leather pores and affect the integrity of the leather fibers. It is at this moment that the leather fibers will begin to deteriorate, losing strength and flexibility, which becomes noticeable when the leather hardens and begins to crack.
Heat and sunlight are particularly harmful to leather, as they will dry the natural oils, fade the color of the leather and accelerate the degradation of the leather. UV light is responsible for the leather fading but it also increases the temperature of the leather, producing heat that will dehydrate the leather fibers. Heating vents, space heaters and fireplaces are heat sources that should also be considered.
Leather furniture and leather articles should be moved out of the direct sunlight and away from other harsh heat sources. If doing so is not possible, practical or desirable, then developing a leather care and maintenance plan becomes more critical.
LEATHER CARE PRODUCTS
Deciding on leather care products can be confusing and a bit overwhelming, particularly with so many leather care products and methods from which to choose. It is important to remember that leather is a dynamic natural material that is affected by its environment. Simply put, it is skin that has been tanned to resist decay.
The key word here is “resist” decay and although leather is very durable, it will not last indefinitely. Generations? Yes, if like most other things, you care for the leather…properly. Think of leather care in a similar way that you would care for your own skin.
Leather should be cleaned and maintained, kept out of harsh and detrimental environments, deep cleaned and conditioned once and awhile, and sometimes just left alone. But unlike your skin, leather is unable to regenerate the natural oils and nutrients needed to maintain elasticity and suppleness.
So “feed” and love your leather as you would care for your own skin, using quality leather care products that are safe, avoiding harsh chemicals and leather care products containing silicon that is known to desiccate the leather. Do not use leather care products that simply sit on the leather surface and become sticky and collect dust.
Dust particles on leather are known to be abrasive and under perfect conditions, become reactive if moisture is introduced. In other words, love your leather, love your furniture and love life!
Although you wouldnt consider your floor as part of your furniture, it is still important to look after. Over time we will build a dedicated Floor Care section on this site. Please take a look at our post on Floor Scrubbers for example for cleaning floors.