Cleaning Antique Wood Furniture

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated November 17, 2014)


Whether you have just purchased a new for you antique, or you have a family heirloom that you would like to keep in good working condition, cleaning antique wood furniture is a process that you will need to learn. Many people would think that there is some type of special training or equipment that is needed when cleaning antique wood furniture. The truth is different though. Keeping these heirloom quality pieces in the best possible condition may need some care and respect, but it is something that just about anyone can accomplish. All you need to do is follow these simple guidelines.

  • Be afraid of water, but not too much. As with most wood furniture, you don't want to get your antique wood furniture soaking wet. Rather, you should use a very soft cloth that is damp as your main tool for general cleaning. You want the cloth to be as soft as possible to avoid scratching or damaging the wood, and you want it to only be damp so that it doesn't saturate the wood and cause any other kinds of damage.
  • Removing sticky residue. A common side effect of purchasing a new for you antique wood furniture is having to deal with removing that sticky residue left behind by price tag stickers. A really effective method for removing this residue is to simply dampen a soft clean cloth with some white vinegar and then rub gently. It will take some time, but eventually you will be able to remove the residue. Be careful when you are doing this though, do not use too much pressure or you could end up damaging the wood.
  • Get rid of musty antique odors. Another problem that often faces antique wood is musty odors. Often these musty odors will be found in drawers or within cabinets. A very effective method for getting rid of this odor is to use a soft cloth and rubbing the interior of the afflicted item with some oil of wintergreen. The fresh scent will combat the musty odor, and leave your item smelling great.
  • Waxing old wood. When waxing antique wood you need to stay away from wax that is silicone based. Ideally you will only need to wax your furniture a few times a year, usually when the weather begins to turn cold to help protect them from the weather change. Wax the furniture again when the weather turns cold again
  • Teak requires special care...Teak furniture will need to be oiled occasionally instead of polished. When you do thins make sure that you use tung oil to do it as it is better for the wood. On the average, you should only need to oil your furniture twice a year, once about every six months.
  • ...As does marquetry. Some antique furniture has elements of marquetry. This basically means that areas of the furniture (if not all of it) has been created out of a checkerboard or other pattern of two different kinds of woods. Do not get this type of work wet. Rather only dust them to get them clean. Periodically you may want to wax or oil them depending on the types of woods used, but avoid water at all costs.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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What is nine more than 9?

2017-11-29 07:30:46

Aarsun Woods

Great article!!! Using just any cleaning product like spray can indeed damage the wood…you can use dry cotton cloth with linseed oil and turpentine on antique furniture cleaning... thanks! - Aarsun Woods

2016-10-08 13:57:35

Nancy austin

I purchased a marquetry table with a lacquer finish several years ago in Italy. It is in a hallway near my bathroom and has accumulated a film of hAirspray, unbeknownst to me until I moved the table. I spray my hair in the bathroom and the spray must have floated into that hallway.

I need to get the film of hAirspray off of it. How do I do that? What product should I use?

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