How to Clean and Polish Wooden Furniture

Whether you have a wooden piano, dresser, desk, bed, or any other beautiful wooden piece of furniture, you’re going to have to keep it maintained in order for the piece to look healthy and well. What’s more, with wooden pieces perhaps more than others, their maintenance not only affects their look, but also their function. Poorly, unkept wood furniture tends to warp, dry, crack, split, and splinter, making it much less useful than a well-kept piece of wooden furniture. Here’s a basic guide to caring for (how to clean and polish) your wooden furniture.

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Determine if it’s a good time to clean the wooden piece of furniture. It’s recommended that you clean and polish a piece of wooden furniture at least a couple of hours before it’s needed in use, to fully let the wood oil absorb into the wood.

How to Clean Wooden Furniture- cleaned or oiled for too longView in gallery

Obviously, this piece hasn’t been cleaned or oiled for too long.

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There are mysterious splotches on the face of the dresser drawers. We’ll see if cleaning and polishing the piece overall takes care of that.

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You must be very careful when you clean a wooden piece of furniture. Wood and water don’t tend to mix. We recommend using very hot, soapy water created with mild dish detergent. Wet, then strongly wring out a soft microfiber cloth to get it ready for cleaning the piece.

With only the slightly damp cleaning cloth, scrub the wood pieceView in gallery

With only the slightly damp cleaning cloth, scrub the wood piece. It’s always best to go with the grain when you’re cleaning wood, although sometimes you might have to go the opposite way to really get it clean.

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Working in small sections of only a square foot or two at a time, wash and then immediately dry the area with a second clean, dry microfiber cloth.

Washing and removing some gunkView in gallery

After washing and removing some gunk, the fronts of some of the drawers still look splotchy. We’ll see if adding some wood oil/furniture polish can change that.

With the entire piece washed clean and driedView in gallery

With the entire piece washed clean and dried, it’s time to use your favorite type of wood polish for the next step.

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Pour a bit of the oil onto your dry microfiber cloth.

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Working with the grain of the wood, rub the wood polish onto your piece. Reapply polish to your cloth as often as is necessary; this will depend on how “thirsty” your wood piece is.

Rub the polish thoroughly into the woodView in gallery

Rub the polish thoroughly into the wood. You want the oil to go on smoothly but without any sort of puddling, pooling, or dripping. You can immediately see a vibrant shine on wood that has been freshly polished.

surfaces and crevices on your wood pieceView in gallery

Be sure to polish all the surfaces and crevices on your wood piece. This isn’t just about looks, it’s about maintaining the wood itself. But, of course, healthy wood is beautiful wood.

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Pull out drawers or open up cupboards in order to polish the wood behind the faces.

Goal is to polish each squareView in gallery

And don’t forget about polishing those hard-to-reach areas around/under/through the hardware. Your goal is to polish each square inch of your wooden furniture piece.

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As you can see from this lustrous drawer face, the splotchiness has gone away and has been replaced with a well-polished wood aesthetic. (This photo is before the polish has fully absorbed, so it still has a “wet” look, but the spots are gone even after absorption.)

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And here you have a clean, polished, beautiful walnut dresser.

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While you may not want or need to clean your wooden pieces regularly (remember, the less water contact with wood, the better), it’s a good idea to polish them with wood oil on a regular basis.

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You’ll fall in love with your wooden piece all over again when you see how luminous it can look after being well taken care of.

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We hope you find great satisfaction in this process, and that you’ve enjoyed learning how to clean and polish wood furniture. Happy cleaning!