Wooden furniture makes for beautiful, elegant interior design. Whether it’s a coffee table for placing your brew on each morning, a statement-piece dining room table with enough room for everyone, or a cozy rocking chair — wood furniture is still as popular as ever. Like many things in your home, wood furniture requires extra care and cleaning to keep it looking its best. Dusting, wiping and waxing wood are all great steps to take when routinely cleaning and preventing future wear and tear, but you typically can’t use the same cleaning products you use elsewhere in your home. To help you clean your wood effectively, protect your investment and take care of it, we’ve created a Spy guide for cleaning wood furniture. In this piece we’re going to cover:
- How to dust wood furniture
- How to clean wood furniture
- How to polish, wax and restore wood furniture
- General tips and what to do before you start
Cleaning Tips + Before You Start
Harsh kitchen sprays you use on plastic, marble or granite countertops won’t do, and may even cause damage. Skip those and use one of the specialized formulas we’ve included below. It’s a pain to buy and store another cleaning product, but it’s an even bigger pain to damage or discolor your wooden furniture permanently by using the wrong stuff.
Before you begin any of the methods below with any of the cleaning solutions provided, do a test patch to make sure your piece of wood isn’t going to react. Many of the formulas below are mild and shouldn’t cause any damage, but you never know. Apply a small amount of the cleaning solution to a cotton ball and wipe it in an inconspicuous place like a table leg or underneath the top surface just to see what happens. If nothing happens, proceed with cleaning the rest of the piece.
Also, regardless of whether you’re using a sponge, cloth or other gentle cleaning device, wipe with the grain of the wood rather than against it. This will protect its natural structure, minimize damage and prevent wear and tear.
Step 1: Dusting
Dusting is an important first step for cleaning any piece of wood furniture, in order to avoid just pushing dirt around during the cleaning phase. Dust that lingers on wood can also gather in crevices and degrade it over time, so it’s best to dust wooden furniture regularly and not just when you’re doing a deep clean. Here are a few of the best products for dusting wooden furniture.
1. Swiffer Heavy Duty Duster Extender Kit
This Swiffer duster comes with a 3-foot extension rod that’s not necessary for most pieces of wooden furniture, but is helpful to have around the house nonetheless. Swiffer dusters are made with specially-coated fibers that lock onto and trap dust, and remove it from the surface rather than just push it around. They’re also flexible, and can easily reach into all the nooks and crannies of decorative or old pieces of furniture.
2. Uppercut Microfiber Duster
This microfiber duster set comes with three different duster heads for attacking different areas of your home, including one microfiber duster head that’s perfect for wood furniture. The crevice brush that’s included is also perfect for picking up dust in small holes or nicks in wooden furniture, and the flexibility of both will give you a comprehensive clean. The kit also comes with a 2-meter pole that makes it easy to reach the top of bookshelves, dressers or other taller pieces of wooden furniture.
3. Guardsman Wood Furniture Dusting Cloths
These cloths are specially-treated, residue-free and designed to pick up dust from wooden furniture rather than push it around like rags or other dusters. Simply wipe the cloth over the piece to get all the extraneous, free-floating dust on top so you’ve got a clean surface to apply a spray or polish to. These cloths are designed to be used on wood, but can work just as well on other surfaces in your home. They can also be rinsed, air dried and reused easily.
Step 2: Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning the surface of your wooden furniture, there are two main ways to go about it. You can use dish soap or a designated cleaning formula designed for wood. Both methods can work wonders on a grimey surface while still protecting the wood from stripping or other damage. As always, make sure you test a new cleaning solution on a small part of the piece before spraying and wiping it all over. Also, use a gentle cloth or sponge when cleaning, and be sure to dry the piece thoroughly afterwards.
When it comes to dish soap brands, these are the ones we recommend.
4. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dishwashing Liquid
As far as mild dish soaps go, Mrs. Meyer’s is great and actually works wonders. It’ll cleanse grease and grime without disturbing the integrity of most types of wood, and it’s got a mild citrus scent so your furniture is left refreshed. Put a few drops in a bucket of water, wet and ring out a sponge and wipe down the piece. Then, wipe the piece down with a wet cloth and dry it thoroughly.
5. Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Soap
This liquid dish soap from Seventh Generation is another great mild formula that’s great to use on wooden furniture. It’s designed to power through grease and other residue that food, dishes and people leave behind. It also contains only plant-based ingredients and contains no fragrances, dyes, phosphates or triclosan.
6. Better Life Unscented Dish Soap
This liquid dish soap is 100% recyclable and is formulated with vitamin E and aloe. It contains plant-based ingredients, natural scents only and doesn’t contain perfumes or bleach that can stain or damage certain wooden furniture.
Another great option besides using dish soap is to use specialized wood cleaner for wooden furniture upkeep. These tend to be made with milder formulas than standard kitchen or bathroom sprays, and can clean dirt or grime without damaging the wood’s surface. Some contain polish to restore your furniture’s surface in addition to the cleanser, while others are just about cleaning the surface. For most users, we recommend getting something that cleans and using wax to seal off the surface, which we’ll cover in the next section.
7. Method Daily Wood Cleaner
This wood cleaner from Method is made with plant-based ingredients that remove dirt and grime without causing harm. It’s designed to be used daily, and comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle made of recycled plastic. This cleaner also has a wonderfully nutty almond scent that’ll leave your wood with a pleasant, earthy aroma after cleaning.
8. Weiman Furniture Polish & Wood Cleaner Spray
This wood cleaner spray from Weiman has a multipurpose formula that gently cleans, moisturizes, conditions and restores wood all in one go. It’s made to clean off the dirt, oil and residue on the surface while also establishing a protective layer against cracking, fading and discoloration. The formula is wax and silicone-free, and is designed to be long-lasting and not cause a build-up.
9. Murphy Oil Soap Concentrated Wood Cleaner
This oil soap cleaner from Murphy is made using water, coconut and other plant-based or plant-derived ingredients, and a natural, refreshing fragrance. It’s designed to clean and shine wooden floors and furniture, and can even be diluted and used on non-finished wooden pieces as well.
10. Old English Furniture Polish Spray
This polish spray is designed to give your wood a layer of protection from liquids and stains, and give it a nice shine as well. If you’ve been neglecting polishing your wood for some time, this spray is designed to restore it and can be applied to any wood, dark or light. It’s also formulated to hide nicks, scuffs and scratches, and leaves behind a nice lemon scent.
11. Weiman Wood Cleaner and Polish Wipes
These polish wipes from Weiman are also made for restoring and replenishing wood’s surface from scratches, dirt, oil, grime and scuffs. The wipes are made with plant-based ingredients that are safe to use around children and pets, and leave behind no sticky residue. They can be used on any wooden surface, and prevent fading by protecting against damaging UV rays.
Step 3: Waxing and Refinishing
After you’re done cleaning your wood, it can be helpful to create a protective layer on the surface to prevent future scratches, grime build-up and other wear and tear. Using a wood polish will give you a nice shine, but a great way to seal in your clean wood is to use furniture wax. It’s thicker and more durable than wiping something down with polish and lasts longer as well.
To apply furniture wax properly, add a spoonful of the wax (about a golf-ball-sized amount) to a cotton cloth and knead it until it’s softened. Rub it on the surface in small areas until the surface appears dulled, and then wipe off the excess with a different clean, dry cloth. Repeat this process until the entire piece of furniture has been sealed.
12. CARGEN Wood Seasoning Natural Wax
This wood wax is made from natural beeswax, and is formulated with no mystery ingredients for bringing furniture back to life. It’s designed to be all-purpose and clean as well as polish your wooden cabinets, dressers, bookshelves and other pieces of furniture. It’s safe to use on all wood types and contains naturally healing ingredients like Carnauba wax, Eucalyptus oil and orange oil as well. The wax also comes with four sponges for easy application.
13. Jolie Finishing Wax
This high-end finishing wax from Jolie is made to be a top coat for painted surfaces and raw wood and give it an extra protective layer. It’s odorless, non-hazardous and water-resistant. It’s also available in multiple colors depending on what you’re finishing, including clear if you want to keep it neutral. It creates a matte (flat) finish that you can buff to your liking to add extra shine.
14. Daddy Van’s All Natural Unscented Furniture Polish
This natural beeswax from Daddy Van’s is formulated to renew and nourish different wood types, and gives even the oldest pieces of wooden furniture a deep glow. It’s a non-toxic formula with safe ingredients you can use around pets and children, and it’s completely odorless and non-hazardous. It gives wood a durable matte finish you can polish, and is water-resistant. It’ll liven up the color of the wood and protect it at the same time.