Cleaning Wood Furniture: The Easy as Pie Way

Polished wooden furniture can certainly add a glamorous element to any home. But like any expensive addition to a bedroom or dining room, hardwood floors and dining sets require timely maintenance and care. Regardless of size or shape, hardwood furniture needs to be kept clean and polished. You don’t need to go overboard and treat your floor like a shrine to the gods; only keep an eye out for dirt, dust and scuff marks.

But that does mean you have to be a little careful. If you have pets, nails and claws can scratch your hardwood floor, which can in turn leave you with sore eyes. Chairs can also easily cause this hazard. In my home, there’s one patch of scratches on our hardwood floor. Out of the entire house, this section is ugly and dull, compared to the rest of the shiny, polished floor. In that area we had a mini-office where there was a desk, computer and office chair (with wheels). Those wheels – because of constant use – scratched our floor to oblivion. When you see damage like this, repair it as soon as you can. (Covering it with your sofa can only go so far!)

Cleaning your floor can be easy (and fun, when you add music and a broom that can be used a faux-mic). Research cleaners first because certain chemicals can tarnish your beautiful wood. (An example of this is oil soaps; we’ll talk about that a little later.)

You want to remove as much dust as you can before getting down to the wet stuff. First, sweep and dust. Try and get around corners and move furniture out of the way to get to tight spots. (Yes, that means moving Aunt Mabel’s old couch – you might as well clean underneath it and get it over with; as long as there’s floor, there’s always the chance there’s dirt!)

Don’t use feather dusters or similar tools. In order to really clean, you have to pick up and remove the dust; dusters of this sort only shove dirt around into the air, making you have to do more work later. I wholeheartedly recommend using Swiffer cloths. When dusting furniture, you can easily see what exactly you pick up and how much dust was there. (Even though it’s a little gross, it’ll leave you much more sure of what you’re doing.)

Next, vacuum to ensure you didn’t miss a single clump of dirt dust bunny. Sure, you can just vacuum in the first place, but some devices are bulky and may not be able to reach where a slender broom could go. If you don’t have a vacuum at hand, use a dust mop or Swiffer-style mop. A dust mop is an essential tool for caring for wooden floors. With either of these devices, you can easily dispose of dirt into the trashcan or wash what you have for later. (Why stick to the dustpan?)

After sweeping, it’s time to contemplate how to further clean. Dusting applies to any wooden surface, but when it comes down to serious cleaning, it all depends on your product’s finish. Wax floors use only wax-based products. Do not use water wooden surfaces, even if they are surface finishes. Water can seriously cause damage. The best route to clean any wooden surface is to follow instructions per its manufacturer. If that information is unavailable, then do research. Consult a professional, and if that means taking a trip to Home Depot (and you’ll probably have to go there anyway for cleaning tools) then do it! Your floor (and any other wood furnishing) is a serious investment and must be taken seriously.

Professionals will tell you what to use – and what to avoid. For example, your friendly clerk at Home Depot will probably tell you to avoid oil soaps, such as Murphy’s. Oil soaps may leave your floors looking shiny but in the long run they can cause your floors serious problems when it’s time for a maintenance coat. The soap will leave your floor with an oily residue that can be impossible to remove. On top of that, using oil soaps can not only damage your floor, but also void your floor’s warranty! Instead of using oil soaps, clean with neutral pH materials specifically for wood. (Many individuals swear by vinegar and water too, but make sure you look up information first.)

In order to care for your floor and other furnishings, be familiar with it. What kind of wood is your floor? Does it require special treatment in order maintain an excellent condition? The more knowledgeable you are with your wooden treasures, the better equipped and prepared you are to maintain magnificent furnishings and a beautiful home.

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