Homeowner Helpers: Caring for your wood furniture

Homeowner HelpersCaring for your wood furniture requires a bit of elbow grease but pays dividends by helping ensure good looks and long life for your most-loved pieces.

Here are some DIY cleaning, protection and repair tips.

Dusting wood furniture

Regular dusting keeps your wood furniture looking good. Avoid a feather duster, which just flicks dust particles into the air where they can resettle on surrounding objects. A feather duster can also catch on veneers and small flaws in the wood, causing damage. Instead, try a lambswool duster with a bit of lanolin (rĒCo Refillery, in Deep River, carries the dusters and other eco-friendly household products). A lightly dampened soft cloth like terry cloth also works well.


Cleaning wood furniture

Caring for your wood furniture means occasionally removing grime that accumulates from daily life. Start by dampening a cotton swab or cloth with water and adding a drop of dishwashing liquid and wiping an inconspicuous spot like the inside of a chair leg. If the dirt comes off easily and the mild cleaning solution doesn’t stain the wood, mix up a batch and tackle the whole piece of furniture, wiping gently with a barely damp cloth or sponge, rinsing with clean water frequently and drying with a soft cloth. Don’t let water sit on the wood, which could damage it.

If the grime doesn’t come off, move up to something stronger like mineral spirits (paint thinner) applied with a soft cloth and wiping with a circular motion. Start by experimenting on an inconspicuous spot, make sure you work in a well-ventilated area and carefully read the instructions for the safe use of mineral spirits. Mineral spirits work well on greasy spots, oil and other grime, but make sure you wipe off any excess quickly.

If the wood still looks grubby after cleaning, you’re likely going to need to refinish it. That may be a DIY project or one for a professional, depending on how much work you want to take on.


More ideas on caring for wood furniture.

Protecting wood furniture

After you’ve cleaned your wood furniture, a coat of beeswax will help protect the surface while adding a rich lustre to it. Before applying the wax, try rubbing the wood with very fine steel wool; roughening it slightly this way gives the wax something to grip. Some experts say not to use commercial spray polishes because they can cause a build-up of film that attracts dust and grime and may even damage wood, however, there seems to be no consensus on this.

More on how to wax wood furniture.


Repairing wood furniture

Well-made wood furniture is lovely but even the best-quality pieces can be damaged by everything from water stains and ink to nicks and scratches. Damage repair is often within the reach of homeowners. For example, white rings left by a wet glass on a table top can sometimes by removed by running a hair dryer over the area or rubbing toothpaste on it and then wiping with a damp cloth. Small scratches can sometimes be masked with a bit of crayon.

Learn more about furniture repair and restoration in this article or here.

More on wood furniture care

Wood furniture can be damaged by excessive humidity, dryness and even direct sunlight. Too much moisture or not enough in the air can cause wood to swell or shrink, leading to warping and even splitting. Keeping indoor humidity in the 30 to 45 per cent range is not only healthy and comfortable for people, it’s also good for wood furniture.


Sunlight can dry wood as well as bleaching it and damaging the finish. Excessive heat is also hard on wood furniture, so avoid putting it over heat vents or at least direct the airflow away from it.

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Whether searching for your first home, preparing to upsize or downsize, or mulling over a renovation, this guide provides valuable resources and tips.