How to Clean Wood Furniture: Complete Guide

Published June 22, 2022
Craftsman polishes a handmade wooden chair outside

Did you get a new wood table? Are you curious about how to clean it? Thankfully, cleaning wood isn't that hard. You just want to make sure to dust often and use as little water as possible. Get tips on how to clean wood furniture and tables. Find out how to remove watermarks and make your furniture last.

How to Routinely Clean and Dust Wood Furniture and Tables

Cleaning wood furniture is all about taking the time to do the routine care. It keeps your wood in tip-top shape and allows you to notice issues with the furniture right away. For everyday care of wood furniture, you need:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Mild dish soap
  • Lint-free drying cloth
  • Wood oil

How to Dust Wood Furniture

The first step to cleaning your wood furniture is dusting it.

  1. Remove everything off the wood furniture, including baskets, knick-knacks, etc.
  2. Take a dry microfiber cloth and wipe down the wood following the grain.
  3. Dampen the cloth and wipe again.
  4. Dry with a clean, lint-free towel.

Clean Wood Furniture With Dish Soap

As you dust your wood table, you might notice a bit of grime. When it comes to how to clean grime off wood furniture, you need to reach for a bit of dish soap.

  1. Mix warm water with a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Agitate to suds it up.
  3. Dip in your microfiber cloth, and wring it out well.
  4. Scrub the grimy areas following the grain.
  5. Rinse and repeat until all grime is gone from the surface.

Re-Oil Your Wood Furniture

After cleaning your wood, you might want to consider re-oiling it once a month. If it's in an area that you eat in, you can use food-grade mineral oil. Some people choose to use linseed oil. The oil you choose is up to you.

Woman coating wood furniture with oil
  1. Apply the oil to a clean wood surface.
  2. Work it in the direction of the grain.
  3. Use a dry cloth to wipe up any excess oil.
  4. Allow several hours to dry completely.
  5. Add additional coats as needed.

How to Deep Clean Dirty Wood Furniture

You gave your wood table a good cleaning with a bit of soap, but it wasn't enough. You've still got grime and stains gumming everything up. In this case, you might need to give your table or furniture a deeper clean. Learn how to clean a wood table or furniture with various deep cleaning materials. But first, you need to gather up a few supplies.

  • Black tea
  • White vinegar
  • Mineral spirits
  • Olive oil
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Container
  • Mild dish soap
  • Protective gear

Using Black Tea to Clean Wood

One proven method for cleaning grimy wood is to try a bit of black tea. The tea works to clean and deodorize the wood and masks any scratches quite well. However, you'll want to test a small inconspicuous area to be sure the color matches well.

  1. Boil 4 cups of water.
  2. Add 4 tea bags and allow them to steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Press out as much tea as possible, and throw away the bags.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool.
  5. Dip a microfiber cloth in the tea and wipe down the wood with the grain.

How to Clean Wood With White Vinegar

White vinegar is typically a no-no for wood. The acid can dull the finish. But if you've got a greasy mess to clean up on your wood furniture, white vinegar can help.

  1. Mix 1 cup of water, 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Dip your cloth in the mixture, wring out, and test on a hidden area of the furniture.
  3. If everything looks good, use the mixture to clean all areas of the wood following the grain.
  4. After cleaning, wipe the furniture down with a dry cloth.
  5. Use a bit of olive oil to rejuvenate the shine in the wood.

Clean Wood With Mineral Spirits

For wood furniture that's extremely soiled, you might need to reach for the mineral spirits. Before using this cleaning method, you'll want to test an area to ensure it doesn't cause discoloration or harm the wood.

  1. Put on some protective gloves.
  2. Fold up a cloth into fours.
  3. Add a bit of mineral spirits to the cloth.
  4. Rub the cloth over the wood in fluid strokes following the grain of the wood.
  5. Wipe the wood down with a cloth.
  6. Re-oil the wood using your preferred oil after cleaning.

How to Remove Stains From Wood Furniture

Do you have the dreaded ring on your wood table? Did your child decide stickers would add a bit of pizazz to your chair? When dealing with a specific stain, you don't have to refinish the wood piece completely or just live with it. You've got a few options for removing particular stains from wood furniture. For these stain-removing methods, grab:

Cleaning eco set for different surfaces in home

Remove Watermarks From Wood Furniture

It stinks when someone forgets to use a coaster on a wood table. But rather than getting mad, grab a bit of baking soda or toothpaste to remove water stains from the wood.

  1. Create a thick paste of baking soda and water. (You can also just add a dab of non-gel toothpaste.)
  2. Rub in a circular motion around the watermark until it disappears.
  3. Wipe away any residue.
  4. Add a bit of petroleum jelly for tough watermarks and let it sit overnight.
  5. Wipe it away in the morning.

How to Remove Adhesive From Wood Furniture

If you have a bit of a sticky mess going on, you can reach for the white vinegar. If the wood furniture isn't finished, you can also try acetone.

  1. Scrape away as much residue as possible with an old credit card or plastic spatula.
  2. Dip a cloth in white vinegar.
  3. Rub at the adhesive until gone.
  4. Rinse the area with a damp cloth.
  5. Buff to dry and add a bit of oil.

Simple Ways to Remove Ink From Wood Tables

Baking soda can be your best friend when it comes to an inky situation on your wood table or chair.

Woman cleaning wood furniture
  1. Create a thick paste of baking soda and water.
  2. Apply the paste to the ink.
  3. Rub in circular motions gently.
  4. Allow the paste to sit for up to 15 minutes.
  5. Wipe away with a damp cloth.
  6. Repeat until all the ink is gone.

You can use a bit of mineral spirits for a stubborn ink stain.

Get Mold and Mildew off Wood Furniture

If you have a bit of mold or mildew on your furniture, you can try a bit of rubbing alcohol.

  1. Vacuum off the wood to remove as many mold spores as you can.
  2. Glove up and wash the area with a bit of soap and water.
  3. Use a bristle brush to scrub away any mold.
  4. Wet a cloth with a bit of rubbing alcohol and wipe it over the moldy area.
  5. Dry and repeat to remove all the mold.

How to Clean Old Wood Furniture

When you have older wood furniture, it takes a bit of TLC to keep it clean and looking like new. So, you'll want to use methods for cleaning antique wood furniture. This ensures you don't harm the wood, especially if it is a precious family heirloom.

How Often to Clean Wood Furniture

Wood furniture often has a coating that protects it from most elements. So, you will want to dust and wipe it down regularly, but want to keep deep cleaning and polishing to once every six weeks or so. This ensures that you don't harm the coating on the wood. Additionally, when cleaning your wood, you don't want to use a lot of water.

Tips for Keeping Wood Furniture Looking New

Once your wood furniture is sparkling again, you'll want to keep it that way. Follow a few tips to make sure your wood pieces always look 100%.

  • Dust often to avoid buildup.
  • Avoid sun damage by keeping wood furniture out of direct sunlight.
  • Protect your wood with finishes and polish.
  • Treat scratches and nicks immediately.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Use coasters and mats.
  • Don't set hot objects directly on wood surfaces.
  • Re-oil wood that's looking dry.
  • Re-wax wood as needed.
  • Treat stains and watermarks immediately.

How to Clean Wood Furniture and Keep It Clean

Wood furniture really spices up your decor. This is especially true when you have a few antique pieces. However, you need to ensure you care for your wood furniture properly, so it lasts a lifetime.

How to Clean Wood Furniture: Complete Guide