Home Interior Wood Care
Classic wood furniture and interiors never goes out of style and is often featured in farmhouse, vintage, and mid-century modern styles as family heirlooms and flea market finds. However, interior wood can also be frustrating to clean. Over time, it tends to show grime or dirt that can’t be removed with a duster. And sometimes, even if you try to clean wood, shiny streaks are left behind.
When it comes to interior wood maintenance, there are a number of terms that get tossed around, such as dusting, cleaning, waxing, and polishing. To keep interior wood looking its best, you’ll likely have to tackle all four of these cleaning tasks every now and then. While experts have varying opinions on care, the technique you use will depend on the finish of the piece.
How to Dust
To keep interior wood in its best shape, maintain frequent dusting. Dust can cause airborne deposits that eventually build up in a filmy layer and scratch the surface. Leaving dust can also trigger allergies or be harmful to those with asthma. Most dust lives in fabric, so try to regularly vacuum carpets or upholstery as well.
To properly dust, capture and remove dust as opposed to spreading it around the surface. To avoid scattering the dust into the air, where it’ll float until landing back on surfaces, very lightly dampen a microfiber cloth before wiping down. Remove excess moisture with a dry terry towel.
Best Dusting Tools
When searching for a dusting tool for interior wood, choose something that dust will cling to, rather than something that will pick it up only to spew it out into the air. Dry, soft cloths and feather dusters will effectively remove dust from wood.
How to Clean Interior Wood
When cleaning, never use all-purpose cleaning sprays, such as the kind used on kitchen tables, unless the wood has a plastic coating. You’ll usually want to avoid cleaning wood with water as well. However, sticky spots may need to be treated with soap and water. To do this, dip a lint-free cloth in mild soap or detergent dissolved in water, wring the cloth nearly dry, and wipe the area. Rinse and immediately dry with a clean, soft cloth.
Oil polishes, cleaners, and furniture oils protect wood by making the surface more slippery. However, they do not offer a hard protective layer. Most commercial spray and liquid furniture polishes contain silicone oil, which can provide some protection. Keep in mind that products that contain a high percentage of oil will show fingerprints. If you have used wood sprays and polishes in the past or suspect that furniture has been polished with them, be aware that these residues can interfere with refinishing and may need professional attention.
Avoid polishing interior wood with pure olive oil, which smears and attracts dust. Instead, try this homemade recipe for cleaning wood.
To revive grimy interior wood, mix equal parts olive oil, denatured alcohol, gum turpentine, and strained lemon juice. Apply with a soft cloth and buff with a clean cloth.
How to Apply Furniture Paste Wax
Typically during manufacture, varnish, polyurethane, or shellac is applied to wood to protect the surface. Applying wax or polish protects the manufacturer’s finish and helps to reduce surface scratches. Wax provides a hard finish and long-lasting protection, doesn’t smear, and is more durable than sprays or polishes. Use paste wax or liquid wax made specifically for furniture. Depending on use, paste wax finishes may last as long as two years. Liquid wax is easier to apply but leaves a thinner coating; it may need to be applied more frequently than paste wax.
Wax needs to be applied correctly, or it can cause streaks and a cloudy appearance. To properly apply wax to restore shine in your wood furnishings, remember to always apply wax in light coats, rubbing into the surface with the grain.
Put a spoonful of wood furniture wax, about the size of a golf ball, in a square of 100% cotton fabric. Wrap the fabric around the wax ball and knead it until soft.
Rub the wax-saturated fabric on the surface of the furniture, one small area at a time, until the surface dulls.
Wipe off the excess wax with a clean, soft cotton cloth.
Repeat waxing and wiping until the entire piece of wood furniture is waxed. If you notice a streak, keep wiping to remove excess wax.
Polish wood furniture with a soft cloth or lamb’s-wool pad attached to an electric drill or power buffer. If the wax smears, wipe with a soft cloth and continue buffing.
For a deep shine, apply a second coat of wax in the same manner.
To maintain waxed furniture, dust with a lamb’s-wool duster. Never use liquid or aerosol furniture polishes because they can dissolve the wax and leave a hazy film.