Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cleaning Wood Furniture

Just bought an excellent book on wood finishing: Foolproof Wood Finishing, by Teri Masaschi.

In it, Teri explains the correct way to clean and maintain wood furniture. First, toss out the Pledge and furniture oils, such as Old English. These products merely put a superficial shine on your piece and smell good, but they do nothing to help restore or protect your furniture. In fact, they may attract dust.

Teri suggests regular dusting with either a slightly damp cloth or [better] a microcloth, that is 70% polyester, 30% polymide, lint-free, washable and non-abrasive, such as Miracle Cloths. For heavy duty cleaning, mix 1/8 to 1/4 cup Murphy Oil Soap in a half-gallon of water and wipe your furniture with a wrung-out cloth. Allow dampness to evaporate and apply paste wax.

Paste wax can be applied however often you like. She suggests purchasing a high-quality wax that is a blend of carnaba, beeswax, and sometimes paraffin. You don't want a wax that's too soft and smudgy, nor one that is too hard, like a bowling alley wax that will be difficult to buff out. She recommends Behlen's Blue Label Wax or Liberon's paste wax. Waxes come in different colors, so choose the one that is the closest color to the wood. Waxes produce a dry, non-greasy surface that does not attract dust and liquids tend to bead on the surface. When applying wax, work in small sections and buff out as you go; don't apply wax to the entire piece all at once. Apply a thin layer and buff out with a clean cloth (I use worn out socks and tshirts).

I've found that using cheesecloth with a small bit of wax folded up inside will apply the right amount of wax on the surface, a thin consistent film.

Another benefit to using wax is, if you decide to refinish your piece, wax can be removed easily with mineral spirits.