How to clean antique wooden furniture
Take care of your antique wooden furniture with our guide to cleaning your pieces correctly
Furniture is arguably more vulnerable to damage than most other decorative types of antique, thanks to its practical purposes. Wood is a natural material that is easily harmed by temperature fluctuations, woodworm and sunlight. If joints are loose, seek professional advice before repairing them. Woodworm weakens the structure of wood and should be treated with a proprietary product, and unsightly holes filled by a professional restorer.
The surface of antique wooden furniture builds up over years and should be looked after carefully. Minor marks and evidence of age are part of its story. Ring marks caused by moisture, heat or oil may be only surface deep and so can be removed easily with fine wire wool and wax polishing. Deeper marks may require professional assistance but, in most cases, the best way to preserve wooden surfaces is straightforward – polishing with a quality beeswax polish once or twice a year, and regular dusting.
If you're interested in furniture, check out our round-up of the best furniture upcycling and restoration courses available online and in person.
You will need:
- Damp duster
- Soft dry duster
- Fine wire wool (0000 grade)
- Pure beeswax polish containing a high proportion of beeswax (spray polishes with or without silicon should be avoided as should oil polishes such as teak oil and Danish oil)
- Fine bristle brushes for carved surfaces
- Soft cotton cloth
How to clean wooden furniture
- Dust the surface of the furniture using a slightly damp cloth, then buff with a dry one.
- Using a fine wire wool or soft cotton cloth, apply a very thin coat of beeswax over the surface of the wood. Use a natural bristle brush to apply the wax in areas of carved decoration.
- Leave to harden for an hour or more.
- Buff with a clean cotton cloth – softer cloths will create a glossier finish. Use a natural-bristle shoe brush to buff carved areas.
- Wax polish should only be used once or twice a year, but careful dusting should be done every week.
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