Even if you don’t need to fix solid wood furniture, time will take its toll. Like other household items, furniture can look worn after years of everyday use. Also, because wood is a natural element, it’s more vulnerable to other natural elements than pieces made from chemicals. Over the years, your wood furniture can start to look like an old hand-me-down. Luckily, there are things you can do – and avoid – to lengthen the life of your furniture. Regular maintenance can slow the deterioration of hardwood furniture – or even prevent it altogether. Here are some of the best ways to preserve the beauty of your pieces:
Regular dusting – every few days or so – is the best way to keep your furniture looking shiny and prevent dust from settling on the wood. Soft cloths and feather dusters work best, but they only move the dust away from the furniture, not out of the air. A lambs-wool duster with lanolin or a slightly damp terry cloth will capture dust and keep your furniture dust-free for a few more days.
The finish is durable and resistant to most household spills. However, spills should be wiped up promptly to avoid potential problems. For most routine cleaning, a soft cloth dampened with warm, soapy water will do the trick. The use of well-formulated cleaning products, without abrasives, can be effective for those tougher cleaning tasks. If using these products, a follow-up with the warm, soapy water and soft cloth will help extensively. Remember that it is important to frequently refold the cloth to a clean side as it becomes dirty. A soiled, damp cloth can redeposit soil on the finish.
Avoid products that are ammonia-based or contain silicone. Use polishes sparingly if at all. Your finish does not benefit from them; and they tend to build up a film on the finish that will attract dust and soil. A good annual cleaning will also help protect the finish. Remember that warm soapy water and wiping it dry is the best cleaning method since your finish has a very hard surface. Using any easy care cleaning product can create a build up and we do not recommend this.
Control the Environment
Your furniture responds to changes in temperature and humidity by expanding and contracting slightly. Ultraviolet light from the sun and fluorescent fixtures can cause chemical changes in the wood and/or finish. Avoid placing furniture in an area where the sun will shine directly on it. Keep furniture away from direct sources of heating and cooling. Avoid storing furniture in an attic or cellar-type environment.
One reason wooden furniture can last such a long time is because most damage is easy to fix. The biggest challenge to repairing furniture is what to use. You want something that gets rid of the damage without destroying the finish. Wood-repair kits are available online and in stores, or you could do it yourself using:
- Pumice, a mild abrasive that can sand down or smooth out a damaged surface
- Mineral spirits, a great alternative to turpentine
- Linseed oil, also sold as flax seed oil, which solidifies to create a shiny surface
Keep these materials handy to repair the most common issues, such as:
Spills and White Rings
This is why you need to keep coasters nearby. Sweat from a cold glass or heat from a hot beverage can penetrate the finish and leave a white ring on your tabletop. Try blowing a hair dryer on the affected area. If that doesn’t work, rub car wax, petroleum jelly or toothpaste on the area, and then wipe away with a damp cloth. Whatever remedy you use, use it right away. Moisture can travel far below the surface, and the longer it penetrates the harder it is to remove.
Ink stains can be difficult to remove from solid wood furniture, but not impossible. To get rid of ink, mix baking soda and water and pour the mix over the stain. Wipe it off with a damp cloth. Treated surfaces would do better with a mix of water and dish washing liquid. Test a small spot before treating the whole stain – you don’t want to remove a stain and damage the finish in the process.