Dirt can build up on wood furniture surprisingly fast especially if you don’t frequently wipe it down.
Dust from the air as well as sweat and dead cells from people’s hands can cause a dark film of grime to develop on chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture. For pieces like the dining table or coffee table, the grime may be from dried bits of food, cup rings or sticky food/beverage residues.
Even if you follow a regular cleaning schedule, it’s important to occasionally do a deep clean to get rid of stubborn grime.
A deep clean is also necessary if the furniture has been sitting unused for an extended period.
Here’s how to clean grime off wood furniture without causing any damage. The trick is to start gently and escalate until your furniture looks like new.
Start With A Simple Wipe Down
Before you try any polishes or cleaning products, wipe down the furniture with a damp microfiber cloth to get rid of surface dirt.
You’ll need two microfiber towels for this: a damp one to wipe off the surface dirt and a dry one to quickly dry off the moisture. Do not leave water sitting on the wood.
Don’t forget to wipe less visible areas like under the table or behind the legs.
If your furniture looks clean and polished after a simple wipe down, you can stop there. The grime wasn’t as bad as you’d anticipated.
Note: Microfiber towels are the best for cleaning furniture as they don’t cause any scuffs or scratches.
Try Gentle Dish Soap
If there are still spots of dirt and sticky grime left on the furniture, move on to dish soap.
Use a gentle formulation to reduce the risk of damaging your furniture’s polish. And even then, you should first test the dish soap on a discreet spot before using it on the entire piece of furniture.
Put a few drops of dish soap on the microfiber towel and rub it on a tiny spot. If it doesn’t cause the polish to fade, it’s safe to use. Mix dish soap with water and use it to wipe the rest of the furniture.
Have a dry microfiber towel on hand to wipe off the moisture.
Removing Cup Rings
To remove unsightly cup rings from furniture, mix a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of water. Rub the mixture gently onto the affected area until the ring disappears.
Another DIY trick is to rub non-gel toothpaste onto the ring until it disappears.
Use Mineral Spirits For Stubborn Grime
If dish soap doesn’t give you the results you are looking for, time to try something more aggressive.
Mineral spirits are solvents that can work through years of built-up dirt and oils. Unless you are planning to refinish the furniture, look for a gentle mineral spirit that won’t affect the wood’s polish.
It’s a good idea to test the spirit on a hidden spot to make sure it’s safe.
If it is, apply a few drops on a microfiber cloth and rub gently onto the wood. Work in a well-ventilated room to avoid breathing in too many of the fumes.
Finish With Some Wood Polish
If you’ve had to escalate to the level of using a mineral spirit, your furniture has probably suffered a bit from the aggressive cleaning.
Some wood polish will leave the wood looking new and shiny.
Even if you’ve not used spirit, I still recommend you do this last step. It’s probably been some time since you polished your furniture.
Make sure you use the right type of polish depending on the type of wood and the finishing on it.
For instance, if your dining table has an oil finish, use an oil polish. For delicate furniture such as antiques, a natural polish such as beeswax is best.
Taking Care Of Wood Furniture
To keep grime from build-up on your furniture, wipe it down often using just water or a mixture of water and mild dish soap.
Here are some other care tips: enforce a coasters policy to prevent cup rings, keep furniture away from direct sunlight, avoid having heat sources such as a heater or hob close to the furniture and clean up spills as soon as they occur.
Also, keep some wood polish handy and apply it once or twice a year to keep the furniture looking great.