10 tips for taking care of wood furniture

Quality wood is a treasured heirloom and can often last a lifetime, passed down through multiple generations. Even the highest quality wood is susceptible to abrasions and scratches if not properly cared for.

When you are thinking of purchasing furniture, it is always a good idea to ask for specific care and cleaning instructions.

Here are 10 tips to keep the wood looking its best for many generations to come.

Do not mistreat furniture

Use coasters when setting glasses or mugs on wood tables to avoid rings and heat damage, also, never place hot food directly on them without the protection of a potholder or a trivet. Tablecloths or decorative placements are a great way to protect your dining room table from food and drink spills.

Avoid environmental damage

Heat, sunlight, and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on your fine wood. Avoid placing valuable furniture in front of vents or fireplaces or uncovered windows, as the heat and light can damage and fade the wood.

Protect your wood

Many commercial sprays and polishes contain either silicone oil or petroleum distillates for a shiny and fresh finish, and to offer some protection from your wood. Be sure not to use too much product, because it can cause buildup that in combination with dirt creates a dull, sticky film. Be sure to buff well when using products to help avoid the buildup, and never use these products with wax protectant because the combination will result in another gooey mess.

Dust often

The chore of dusting is the one that no one really likes, but it is one of the best ways to take care of your furniture. Airborne particles can build a film layer on wood that scratches the surface. Frequent dusting keeps this buildup from happening. To avoid damage always use soft cloth-like cotton T-shirts, cloth diapers, or microfiber.

Treat wear and tear

Wood furniture can sustain injuries, even with the best care. Liquid polishes hide abrasions, restoring the wood’s inherent beauty.

If damage is too extensive to be treated with touch-up sticks you may need to resort to something more drastic. Painting a piece of damaged furniture will breathe new life into it and give it several more good years. Painting allows you to save time by skipping sanding, something you can’t do if you opt to re-stain.

Re-Wax as needed

Some furniture may have a wax protective coating, depending on the finish. As the pieces age it may be necessary to re-wax the surface for continued protection. Always prepare the surface with fine #0000 steel wool then wipe that with a soft cloth to remove any residue. Apply a coat of wax and spread it, using light pressure, and always following the grain. Don’t allow the wax to set for more than 20 minutes, remove excess wax with a pad, and buff with a soft cloth until the surface feels smooth to the touch.

Keep your wood clean

Sometimes dusting isn’t enough, and you’ll find it necessary to clean your wood furniture. All-purpose cleaners can cause damage to the finish, avoid using them. If there is a spot that is sticky or heavily soiled, dip a cloth in water that contains a mild dish detergent. Gently wipe the area being careful that the cloth is squeezed out as much as possible. Be sure to follow up with a rinse from a damp cloth containing just water, then immediately wipe with a soft dry cloth.

Re-Oil Dry Wood

You may need to re-oil your furniture if it has been stored and become overly dry. Use an appropriate cleaner and prepare the surface with #0000 steel wool, working with the grain. Apply furniture oil liberally and let it soak into the wood for about 15 minutes. Let the furniture set for at least 24 hours if you are thinking of applying a protective coating.

Keep wood smelling fresh

Older pieces will sometimes develop an unpleasant odor, especially if they’ve been stored. You can place a pan of charcoal inside drawers to absorb smells that emanate from inside or sprinkle the surface with baking soda to freshen it up.

Remove tough stains

It is sometimes inevitable despite your best efforts that your beautiful wood furniture gets stained. No matter what kind of stain you have, be sure to clean it as quickly as possible. It will be harder to remove the longer it sits.

Apply a paste of equal amounts of white toothpaste and baking soda for the white rings from wet glasses. Gently blot the stain with a cloth soaked in vinegar for dark spots from water damage. For crayon marks, apply mayonnaise over the area. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before rubbing clean with a damp cloth and buffing with a dry cloth.

Taking proper care of your wood furniture isn’t hard or even that time-consuming, and the reward of your effort will be a home filled with beautiful wood furniture that looks and feels as good as the day you got it – now and for years to come.