Home Improvement

10 Top Tips – Caring for Wood Furniture

Caring for wood furniture is a simple task but worth the effort. High-quality wood furniture can last a lifetime and often become heirlooms being passed down through the generations. Still, even the highest quality furniture is susceptible to scratches and marks if not properly cared for.

It is always a good idea to ask the retailer for any specific cleaning and care instructions and to follow them diligently. For any furnishings already in your home, we have compiled the Top 10 tips to keep your furniture looking its best for many years to come.

1. Don’t Abuse Furniture

Use coasters and placemats to avoid rings and heat damage. Plate bottoms are often unglazed and can scratch your wooden furniture. Avoid placing hot dishes directly on the wood, use a protective heat resistant placement or trivet. Remember you can use decorative tablecloths to protect your dining room table from food and drink spills.

2. Avoid Environmental Damage

Environmental factors such as sunlight, heat, humidity and others can create havoc with your fine furniture. Never place valuable furniture in direct sunlight from uncovered windows, air vents or fireplaces. The light and heat can easily damage and fade even the highest quality wood.

3. Dust Often

Even if you find dusting a real chore, it is one of the best ways to take care of your furniture. Particles in the air can build a transparent layer on wood that scratches the surface. By dusting frequently you can keep this build-up from happening. Make sure you use the correct type of cloth for dusting, soft cotton or microfiber is best to avoid damage. If your furniture has ornate carvings or hard to reach places, then a specialist washable antistatic feather style duster is best as they effectively attract and hold dust.

4. Keep Your Furniture Clean

Even if you dust thoroughly and regularly, it is sometimes necessary to clean your wood furniture. To avoid damage to the finish you should only use mild dishwashing detergent and not an all-purpose cleaner. If you have an area that is soiled or sticky, dip a cloth in warm water that contains a little mild dish detergent. The cloth needs to be wrung out as much as possible and the area gently wiped. Follow this with a rinse from a damp cloth containing just water, then immediately wipe dry with a soft dry cloth.

5. Protect Your Furniture

Use a specialist commercial product. Modern polish and sprays contain either petroleum distillates or silicone-based oil to produce a shiny finish. These products also offer some protection for your wood. Do be careful not to use too much as this can lead to sticky build-up when it combines with airborne dirt and dust. Wax protectants should be used in exclusivity and never used in combination with any other product as this will result in a dull finish and a bit of a mess.

6. Treat Wear and Tear

Wooden furniture can sustain damage, even with the best of care. When this happens, weigh up your options.

If the damage is minor, a nick or scratch, there are commercially available scratch cover products.

If the damage is more severe and it cannot be fixed with a scratch cover polish you need to consider whether you wish to keep your treasured piece or replace it. If you intend to replace it there are online furniture retailers who can advise you.

Your options are to have the wood professionally repaired or even professionally painted or even upcycled by yourself.  The furniture repair market is booming with over £250 million predicted to be spent on furniture repair by 2025.

7. Re-Oil Dry Wood

Furniture that has been stored and has not been part of a care regime has often dried out. If this is the case it can be re-oiled to “feed” the wood. Find a suitable specialist cleaner and thoroughly clean the piece first. Prepare the surfaces with very fine grade steel wool, working with the grain. Clean off any residue and allow it to dry. Next, you will need to liberally apply your chosen furniture oil. There are specialist restoring oils available online.

Allow the oil to soak in for 15 minutes and re-apply if necessary. If you plan to apply a protective coating you must let the furniture stand for at least 24 hours before proceeding. 

8. Re-Wax as Needed

Many types of quality furniture have a wax protective coating. For continued protection, it may be necessary to re-wax the surface. The surface should be prepared with fine steel wool and then wiped clean with a soft cloth. Apply a liberal coating of wax and spread it using a green Scotch Brite style pad with light pressure and, as always, in the direction of the grain.

Don’t allow the wax to set, no more than 20 minutes. With a new Scotch Brite pad, clean off any excess wax, and buff with a soft cloth until the surface feels smooth to the touch.

9. Keep Wood Smelling Fresh

Older pieces of furniture, especially ones that have been stored, can sometimes develop an unpleasant odour. An easy fix is to sprinkle the surface with baking soda which will freshen it up. Charcoal placed inside drawers will absorb smells that emanate from inside. If you have the opportunity, putting the offending furniture outside in a shaded area on a warm, dry day will relieve the piece of the fetid stench and make your furniture good as new.

10. Remove Tough Stains

Sometimes the inevitable happens despite your best efforts. Your beautiful wood furniture has got stained. The longer the stain goes untreated the harder it will be to remove, so jump into action immediately.

A quick cleaning guide:-

White rings – mix equal amounts of baking powder and toothpaste and rub into the stain until it goes. Wipe off the stained area and buff with a dry cloth.

Dark Spots – These are produced by water damage and it is best to blot the stain with a cloth soaked in vinegar.

Wipe off the stained area and buff with a dry cloth

Crayon – Smear mayonnaise over the offending marks and let sit for a few minutes. Rub clean with a soft damp cloth, then buff with a dry cloth.

Wood furniture isn’t hard or even that time-consuming to care for. The reward for caring will be a home filled with beautiful wood furniture that looks and feels as good as the day you got it.