How to Clean Wood Furniture in 5 Easy Steps

Wood buffet table

Pure Salt Interiors

A piece of real wood furniture is always a good investment and can give your home a rich, warm look and feel. Whether you mix wood tones or stick with one or two shades of natural wood, a few statement pieces made from the genuine article are a must in any home. However, once you've laid down your hard-earned cash, it's important to care for your new furniture.

Before you reach for the disinfectant spray, take a moment to learn exactly how to treat your wood furniture. Unlike synthetic materials, wood requires a bit more care and attention to ensure your piece lasts for years to come.

How Often Should You Clean Wood Furniture?

You should aim to dust your wood furniture at least once a week to remove particles and avoid scuffs. Beyond that, any spill should be immediately cleaned up. Any hard-to-remove residue may take a bit more elbow grease, but you should try to tackle it as soon as you notice it. The longer stains sit on your furniture, the harder they can be to remove.

If you want to treat your wood, consider polishing your pieces at least once every six weeks. Any more often, and you risk damaging the wood's veneer and weakening the surface, leaving your furniture vulnerable to damage.

Things You'll Need:

  • Feather duster
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Mineral spirits
  • Liquid furniture polish (optional)
  • Furniture wax (optional)
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Toothpaste (optional)

Step 1: Wipe the Furniture Down

Wood dresser with vase

Pure Salt Interiors

If you're the proud owner of real wood furniture, you'll want to treat it with care. When you're ready to clean it, gently remove all dust with a duster or a microfiber cloth. Next, mix about a teaspoon of dish soap with warm water and put the mixture into a spray bottle or a bowl. Then get a microfiber cloth just wet enough to make it slightly damp. Clean in the same direction as the wood grain, and remove any residue.

Never use a saturated cloth on wood furniture. Too much water can ruin the finish and leave behind unsightly streaks.

Step 2: Work on Sticky Residue

Though you'll want to be careful with your wood furniture, sometimes you'll need to add a little elbow grease to remove any old residue. We recommend mineral spirits when you really need to get your furniture nice and clean, or it's been a while since you've tackled this chore. Lightly moisten a cloth with mineral spirits, and gently rub it on the furniture. After you're done, apply a touch of water to a rag and repeat.

Though mineral spirits should be safe on wood furniture, you will want to test them on an inconspicuous spot before you start, just to be sure.

Step 3: Remove Old Water Stains

Wood desk

Ashley Webb Interiors

We all know a coaster is a must, but sometimes accidents happen—and we're left with painfully obvious white rings on our beautiful wood furniture. If you have a few rings to remove, there are a couple of things you can try. First, try mixing equal parts toothpaste and baking soda. Then rub with a soft cloth until the stain disappears, and follow with a clean, damp cloth.

If you want to use a store-bought product, you can purchase a water ring removal cloth from Amazon or a home improvement store. These pre-moistened cloths can remove white heat or water stains without any DIY mixtures.

Step 4: Fill in Scratches

Whether you've splurged on new furniture or you're more of a vintage store shopper, even the most cared-for wood furniture will sometimes accumulate scratches. Depending on how deep the scratch is, there are a handful of over-the-counter products you can buy to help remove them. Most hardware stores sell various colored crayons to match your finish and fill in light scratches.

Step 5: Wax If Needed

Once you've removed all the stains and camouflaged scratches that you can tackle, consider whether it's time to protect your piece with wax. A light wax can help protect your furniture from future damage and make it easier to wipe clean next time.

When applying a furniture wax, always apply in the same direction as the wood grain. For the best results, use cheesecloth to apply the wax.

To keep your furniture looking its best, dust regularly and do a deep clean at least once a month.