How to Clean Your Wooden Furniture

Over time your wooden furniture begins to look dull and lackluster. Here’s how to clean wood furniture to preserve its shine for longer.

Updated Reading Time: 5 minutes

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Wooden furniture gives a nice, rustic look to your living space. It is one of the simplest ways to make your home seem inviting and warm. Modern interior designers use wooden furniture with intricate designs to lift the aesthetics of contemporary homes. Wood is also durable and can last really long if you show it the care it deserves. Regular cleaning and occasional deep cleaning can work wonders in preserving the shine of your wooden furniture.

How to Clean Wood Furniture

You have to adopt a cleaning strategy based on the type of your furniture.

Ingredients to Keep Handy

a) Dishwashing liquid

b) Microfibre cloth

c) Cotton balls

d) Toothpaste

e) Baking soda

f) Olive oil

g) White vinegar

h) Hard wax

i) Lint-free cloth

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How to Clean Painted Wood Furniture

If your wooden furniture is given a makeover with new paint, here’s what you can do. Identifying whether your wooden furniture is painted or not is easy, it can be identified by its colour alone. Painted wooden furniture appears to be semi-matte. However, look closely, if you find dark brown of a brick red colour of the wood grain, it is not a paint but a thick laquer. If you are still confused, seek help from a carpenter.

  1. Step 1: Vacuum

    Run a vacuum cleaner over your painted wood furniture using a brush attachment. If a vacuum cleaner is unavailable, you can also dust the furniture surface with a microfiber cloth. A microfibre cloth picks more dirt and dust than other types of cloths which makes job faster. Since it is a soft, non-abrasive and a lint-free material, it prevents scratches on your wooden furniture while cleaning.

  2. Step 2: Prepare Cleaning Solution

    Mix 2 drops of dishwashing liquid in a bowl of water. Dip a cotton ball in the cleaning solution and check if your wood furniture is compatible with the soapy water by rubbing it on a small area. If yes, wipe the entire surface of your painted wood furniture with a microfibre cloth soaked in cleaning solution.

  3. Step 3: Rinse

    Rinse off the soapy layer with a damp cloth. Use a lint-free cloth to absorb the excess moisture. Let the furniture air dry.

How to Clean Oiled Wooden Furniture

Oil acts as layer of protection on wooden furniture and also gives it a natural sheen and a beautiful look. To know whether your wooden furniture is oil coated or not, take a cotton swab and add 4-5 drops of linseed oil. Rub it over a small patch and see if it absorbs. Oiled wooden furniture absorbs linseed. If you are still confused, it is best to consult a carpenter.

  1. Step 1: Treat the Stains

    Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of water to form a thin paste. Baking soda is mild alkali which helps lift grime and stains easily when dissolved in water. Spread this paste over the stained area of your furniture. Leave it for 5 minutes. Now, wipe off the paste with a cleaning rag. The stains will disappear.

    You can also squeeze a small amount of non-gel toothpaste on a damp microfibre cloth. A non-gel toothpaste often contains baking soda which makes it an ideal cleaning agent. Rub this cloth over the stain affected area in circular motion. Once the stains disappear, wipe off the toothpaste residue with a cleaning rag. Let the furniture air dry. 

  2. Step 2: Treat with Soapy Water

    Prepare soapy water using dishwashing liquid and wipe the wooden furniture with the soapy water. Rinse with a damp cleaning cloth.

  3. Step 3: Pat Dry

    Wipe off the excess moisture with a dry towel. Allow the surface to air-dry thoroughly

How to Clean Polished Wooden Furniture

Polish is a substance put over the surface of your furniture to make it shine. To understand whether your furniture is polished or not, take 3-4 drops of wood spirit, which is easily available in the market, on a wire wool and rub it on a small inconspicuous patch for 2 minutes. Leave it for 5 minutes, then touch to see if the patch has become sticky and foggy. If yes, your wood has a polished finish. However, if you are confused, we suggest you consult a carpenter.

  1. Step 1: Soak Cleaning Rag in Tea

    Immerse 4-5 tea bags in a cup of hot water. Wait for 10 minutes. Now, soak a cleaning cloth in this solution and wring the cloth to remove excess moisture. Wipe the polished wooden furniture with this cloth to restore its shine. Please note, that you should use black tea as it contains tannins which helps your polished wooden furniture retain its dark finishing.

  2. Step 2: Apply Polish

    You can use any commercial wood polish to keep up its lustrous appearance.

  3. Step 3: Allow It to Settle

    Once you have applied polish, allow it to settle for 1-2 hours before using the furniture.

How to Clean Specialty Wooden Furniture

Specialty wood includes rattan, wicker, cane, bamboo and rush. Here’s how to clean them.

  1. Step 1: Dust

    You can use a microfibre cloth or a vacuum cleaner to remove surface dust and dirt from your wooden furniture.

  2. Step 2: Treat with Olive Oil

    Mix 1 cup each of olive oil and white vinegar. Olive oil nourishes surfaces and loosens stains, while vinegar helps break stains. When combined together, these 2 ingredients will help speed up the cleaning process. Soak a cloth in this solution and wipe your wooden furniture with it. Buff the furniture with a lint-free cloth to give your furniture a glossy look.

  3. Step 3: Allow It to Settle

    Once you have treated the furniture with olive oil, allow it to settle for 1-2 hours before using the furniture.


There are some precautions you must take to maintain the pristine look of your wooden furniture such as keeping your furniture away from direct sunlight. Pro-longed exposure to high heat can damage the wood.

Protect your wooden furniture from future spills using wax. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before applying commercial wax on your furniture. Check for compatibility on an inconspicuous area. However, please note that you should not use wax on oil-finish wooden furniture. Wax will block the pores on the wood causing your furniture to look lifeless.

Do not use any ammonia-based cleaning agent on your wooden furniture. It leaves behind residue which builds up over time.

In India, solid wood furniture is very popular, especially pieces that have been owned by families for generations. While they make a great style statement in your home, they do require timely maintenance and proper care. Your furniture will not only look clean, but will also last longer. With the right cleaning tips and ingredients, it’s simple to keep your wooden furniture looking great.

Key Step

For a quick-fix touch-up, use the appropriate colour shoe polish on scratches and chips to make them less visible.

For more information on home care, visit Get Set Clean.

Originally published