Design & Make

How to Care for Wood Furniture

by Dakota Arkin Cafourek February 18, 2019
ReadHow to Care for Wood Furniture Image courtesy of De JONG & Co.

Be it the ornately carved armrests of a Louis XVI chair or the clean and simple lines of a Scandinavian contemporary dining table, the beauty of wood furniture is timeless. Styles may shift, but our adoration for wood’s organic aesthetic remains. Every knot and unique grain contribute to its one-of-a-kind character. Each variety of timber and finish hand selected by a craftsperson for durability and design. Perhaps we like wood furnishings in our homes because of the way it brings us just a little closer to nature or to the folks before us and before them who used wood for much the same purpose. With the right care, a well-made piece of wood furniture can last generations. And, with regular maintenance, wood is simple to care for.

Keep it clean

Even a small buildup of dust can scratch a wood’s delicate finish, so we recommend dusting wood furniture on a weekly basis with a lint-free cloth, a lambswool duster, or even tack cloth. To clean wood, add a capful of gentle detergent to lukewarm water. Dampen a soft cloth in the soap-and-water mixture, wringing out excess water, and wipe the wood quickly so as to not let it soak. Wipe excess moisture with a dry cloth. You can also make your own natural wood cleaner by mixing a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of water, and the juice of one lemon. It’s not only effective, but it will smell citrus fresh. Grimy wood may call for something tougher, such as mineral spirits.

Let it shine

For extra shine, follow basic cleaning with polishing. Choose a gentle polish that is specifically formulated for wood. We recommend avoiding polishers containing silicon as they can ultimately damage the wood. It’s also a good idea to replenish wood’s protective treatment every six months or so, keeping it durable and stain resistant. Typically butcher’s wax is an effective treatment, or try acid-free microcrystalline wax for woods with a more fragile finish.

Fix it up

The sturdiness of hardwood furniture contributes to its long lifespan. But even the most resilient of coffee tables can be stained with water rings. Applying a solution of a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a cup of water will help remove such unwanted marks. Rubbing a small amount of mayonnaise can also do the trick! Pro tip: Keep coasters within reach for thirsty guests.

For scratches, try masking with furniture polish. Even a marker or shoe polish can solve the problem as long as the solution matches the color of the wood.

Keep it cool

Extreme changes in temperature and humidity can affect a wood’s finish and even its shape. Heat will contract it, so when possible, arrange wood furniture away from direct sunlight and heaters and consider using a humidifier if you live in a dry climate.

MORE IN Design & Make

ReadHow to Re-Wax Your Waxed-Canvas Bag

How to Re-Wax Your Waxed-Canvas Bag

Waxed canvas is known for being durable and water resistant, but, if you use your waxed-canvas...

ReadThe History of the Cuckoo Clock

The History of the Cuckoo Clock

When I was growing up in Virginia, my parents would sometimes bring my brother and me to the...

ReadA Brief History of Brutalist Architecture

A Brief History of Brutalist Architecture

The first time I went to Detroit, I wasn’t sure how I felt. The architecture felt imposing and...