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How to Clean Antique Wood Furniture?

If you have inherited some grand wood furniture from your ancestors, they might have become dirty over the years. Or you might have purchased some antique wood furniture due to your love for them. Here are certain tips to clean the antique and old furniture because they need extra care as compared to the more new furniture.
  • There are actually two types of dirts on the very old furniture- one is the non oily type which can be removed more easily and the other is the oily/dirty grime mostly found on wooden articles that are more often touched with our hands or are placed in kitchen.
  • Before cleaning the furniture, you should always test your cleaning agent on some less visible part of the furniture to see whether it harms the wood surface or the finish.
  • If there are some ornamentation on the furniture like designs in gold and silver, just dust them with very soft brush.
  • For the first type of non-oily dirt, use a mild soapy solution (a little liquid dish soap and water). With a soft cloth, preferably cotton, lightly rub the surface in order to remove the grime. Don't put much of the soap solution, just wet the surface and rotate the cloth frequently to avoid spreading the dirt. Now dry the area with a soft clean cloth.
  • If the finish is chipped off or cracked at some places, avoid wetting the wood there, as it can cause it to swell.
  • If the mild soapy solution doesn't work on dirt then use a cleaning solution. Avoid trisodium phosphate (TSP) and ensure that the cleaning solution is a phosphate-free TSP or Liquid TSP.
  • If the old lacquer is damaged by oils and oily grime, it means that the finish has removed along with the grime when you're cleaning the surface. For this condition, the only solution remains is to replace it on the affected areas. In such a situation, stop cleaning with the water-based cleanser and switch to a solvent based cleanser. This will avoid wood swelling.
  • For the second type of dirt- the oily grime and wax build up, use naphtha to clean up the wooden surface just as you would use the soapy solution. Just remain a little careful as naphtha is an inflammable material.
  • You can also use regular mineral spirits or odorless mineral spirits instead of naphtha. However, it will take more time and effort to clean the grime.
  • Don't use steel wool or synthetic steel wool scrubby pads for cleaning. They remove some finish and leave the wood surface dull.
  • If the surface of your wood furniture is dull due to scratches and rub marks use a paste wax to brighten it up.

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