June 9, 2021 Furniture, How To

How to Clean Wood Furniture

How to Clean Wood Furniture

It’s time to choose your rich oak dining table or walnut desk, how exciting! But, before you make this investment, you need to know how to clean wood furniture. With the right cleaning and maintenance, a high-quality wooden piece can become a family heirloom. It’ll see countless family dinners and holiday celebrations – and, no doubt, a few spills here and there.

In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know about how to clean your premium wood furniture – from teak, to stained, and even antique finishes – so it will stay pristine for years to come. Let’s get started.

How To Clean Wood Furniture: Different Types Of Cleaning

Different Types of Cleaning Wood Furniture

Beckett Chair by Rowe

Cleaning wood furniture, new and old, requires a lot of care and attention. Whether you're trying to clean decades of grime from a neglected antique coffee table or maintaining the right dining room table for your home in Calgary, the maintenance of your favourite wood pieces will be significantly beneficial to the life of your furniture. Let’s take a look at five reasons why you’ll need to clean your wood furniture:

  1. Grime
  2. Mould
  3. Mildew
  4. Painting prep
  5. Antique / polish / maintenance


Grime is that sticky layer over the coffee table that drives you crazy – did the kids leave their sugary drinks on it, again? Grime accumulates on well-loved pieces that withstand daily use. Furniture like this would include:

So, how does the grime get there? There are various reasons for grime build-up, including:

If you can reduce any of the above culprits for grime build-up, this will help maintain the quality of your wood furniture for longer. Top cleaning tip for grime on wood furniture: use a damp microfiber cloth and wipe in the direction of the grain. If it’s really dirty, you can use some mineral spirits and a dry cloth afterwards.

Mould & Mildew

Mould and mildew both come from fungi. Mould manifests in greenish, brownish, or black spots, while mildew shows itself as a cloudy layer of film over the bathroom walls. Mould and mildew on wood can be detrimental to your families' health and should be removed as soon as possible. Even non-toxic mould in your home can lead to breathing issues and respiratory irritations, so do yourself a favour and take care of it as soon as you can.

So, what causes mildew and mould? Here are a few common culprits:

To keep the mould and mildew at bay, follow these three steps:

  1. Run a dehumidifier to keep moisture out of the air
  2. Keep your home well-ventilated to avoid condensation
  3. Check windows, walls, and ceilings for leaks

Before investing in a high-quality dining table, discuss with your furniture expert what type of wooden furniture would fair well in your home.

How to clean wood dining table
Mystic Dining Table by Trica

Painting Prep

Nothing brightens an old piece of wooden furniture like a new coat of paint. It can be tempting to just start painting straight onto the surface – but, resist! If you don’t sand the furniture first or remove surface residue, you’ll end up with cracked and peeling paint – that’s not how it looked on Pinterest!

If you’re planning to paint your wooden furniture, follow these simple steps:

  1. Sand-down the surface with sandpaper or an orbital sander
  2. Remove any residue with a lint-free cloth
  3. Use a primer to prime the surface

We know you're excited but try to avoid jumping into painting immediately, but you’ll run into problems if you don’t prep your furniture first.

Antique Furniture

Knowing exactly how to clean your antique wood furniture will help keep it in prime condition. Imagine damaging the varnish on your antique table because you used the wrong cleaning product.

Before you start cleaning your antique piece, it’s important to learn what kind of finish it has. You can test this by selecting a small, unnoticeable spot on the piece and wiping it with a cotton bud dipped in methylated spirits. If the finish dissolves, it’s shellac. Shellac is difficult to maintain, and you’ll probably need to call in the experts to make sure your furniture is maintained properly. But, if the finish doesn’t dissolve, it’s one of of the following finishes:

  1. Lacquer
  2. Polyurethane
  3. Varnish
  4. Oil

Then, you can clean your antique furniture using the following products:

Learning how to clean your wooden antique furniture will be tricky at first, but you’ll soon get into a regular maintenance rhythm. We’ve summarized our advice for different cleaning methods in this handy table:

Types of Cleaning Products to use
Grime Diluted dish soap and water Mineral spirits
Mould & Mildew Diluted vinegar spray Rubbing alcohol spray Baking soda with detergent
Painting Prep Sandpaper Sand orbiter Lint-free cloth Primer
Antique Care* *non-shellac finish Oil soap Cotton rags White vinegar Vegetable oil Beeswax polish

How To Clean Different Types of Wood Furniture

How to clean different types of wood furniture
Jonas Coffee Table by Nuevo

What’s your favourite type of wood? You might like a classic oak or walnut finish, or perhaps even something a little fancy – like cherry.

When choosing your table from Home Evolution – from this classic Paolo dining table to this modern piece – you can choose from a range of finishes. Every type of wood furniture requires a slightly different method of cleaning to ensure optimal results. Depending on the wood you choose for your table or desk, make sure you know how to keep it clean and shiny. We’ll show you how to clean the following types of wood furniture:

  1. Teak
  2. Oak
  3. Walnut
  4. Stained
  5. White
  6. Other


Teak is a hard, durable wood, typically golden to medium brown. Teak is native to Asia and Central America and is known for its resistance to decay and insect deflecting characteristics. Teak wood is full of natural oils and even rubber, making it resistant to rot from moisture. Teak's unique characteristics make it the perfect lumber for building outdoor furniture and flooring that will stand the test of time. Teak can be left outside consistently for 20 years without showing signs of rot!

To clean teak wood furniture, either use a product recommended by the manufacturer or just use mild soap and warm water. It’s as easy as that.


Oak is one of the most popular types of wood used for centuries to build beautiful furniture. Oak is tough and durable with a tight and straight grain that only becomes stronger with age. Old oak lumber is great for making durable pieces that need to withstand daily use and wear and tear. Oak comes in red and white varieties, red oak furniture generally more accessible and affordable.

To keep your oak furniture clean and shiny, use the following method: Mix two parts vinegar to one part olive oil and rub it gently into the surface. This is the traditional way of cleaning oak furniture. Olive oil moisturizes the surface of the furniture, while vinegar has cleaning properties while being gentle enough not to damage the varnish.


Walnut is a beautiful wood for furniture. The advantages of choosing this wood for your furniture are that it’s environmentally friendly, highly durable, and resistant to mould and water. However, because of its quality, walnut products tend to be a little pricier. But, if you can maintain your walnut piece with regular cleaning and polishing, it’ll easily be worth the investment. To clean your walnut furniture, use the following recipe:

To really polish your walnut furniture, consider a high-quality beeswax product. Ask your furniture specialist for recommendations, they’ll tell you the best options for your specific piece.


When cleaning outdoor, stained wood furniture, the easiest option is soap and water. If you are dealing with mouldy stains or other deep stains, use a brush along with soapy water and a capful of oxygen bleach.


Painted wood can be sensitive to harsh chemical and cleaning methods causing the paint to peel or bubble. No one wants that! Vacuum or dust your painted wood with a dry cloth and clean your painted wood furniture with a diluted (1:1) vinegar mixture to sanitize and remove greasy or sticky residue. Do not over-moisten painted wood. Paint can peel easily and over time when improper cleaning techniques are implemented.


If you have white wood or white painted wood in your home, you may know the struggle of cleaning efficiently without spreading dust and dirt everywhere! Cleaning light furniture can be a pain. Here are a few pointers to help keep your white wood crisp:

Here’s a chart to remind you of your cleaning options for your favourite wood furniture:

Type of Wood Optimal Cleaning Method
Teak Soap and water
Oak Soap & water Vinegar and water mix Mineral spirits Oil soap
Walnut Olive oil White vinegar
Painted Vinegar and water mix (2:1)
Stained Soap and water (add oxygen bleach if necessary to remove stains)
White Wipe dust away with a clean dry cloth before cleaning with a vinegar and water mixture

Cleaning Tips for Different Types of Furniture

Cleaning Tips for Different Types of Furniture
Thor Dining Table by Verbois

Because certain types of wooden furniture have different purposes, you should use slightly different cleaning methods for the best results. For example, your Lehn nightstand might get stained from your morning cups of coffee or even wax from your new scented candle. Compare this to your Condo dining table, which will withstand stains from all kinds of food, beverages, and other things – especially if your kids use it for creative activities! When cleaning different types of furniture, follow these tips for great results:

How To Clean Wooden Bed Frames

How To Clean Wooden Bed Frames
Secret Bed by Trica

We’ve all confidently taken a hot drink to bed and thought we could manage to read a book at the same time. Well, for the clumsy among us, hot drinks often get spilt – and if it’s dripped down the side of the bed or into a crevice between the bed frame and the wall, this can be a problem. Cleaning wooden bed frames can be tricky. Follow these top tips from our team:

How To Clean Wooden Dining Tables

Clean Wooden Dining Tables
Moto Side Chair by Verbois

Our beloved dining tables put up with a lot of mess. Here are a few tips and tricks to get your wooden dining table looking as good as new: Erase water rings with toothpaste. Erase water rings by dabbing a bit of white, non-gel toothpaste onto a soft cloth. Rub the water right gently to remove water rings from coffee and dining tables. Erase water rings with mayonnaise or petroleum jelly. Oils in mayonnaise can erase watermarks and stains. Fancy that!

How To Clean Wooden Nightstands

How To Clean Wooden Nightstands
Lehn Nightstand by A.R.T Furniture

To keep your wooden nightstand looking beautiful, follow the following steps:

Remember to use coasters and mats to prevent spillage from hot drinks, candles, and other messy items.

Our Top Cleaning Tips for Any Wood Furniture

How To Clean Wood Furniture With Vinegar And Other Products

Clean Wood Furniture With Vinegar
Annex Console by Hooker

We’ll show you how to clean your precious wooden pieces with the following products – some found in your cupboard, some professional-grade:

  1. Vinegar
  2. Chemicals/Professional Products
  3. Wood Oil Soap
  4. Dish soap
  5. Mineral Spirits


When we're contemplating how to clean wood furniture naturally, vinegar is the first thing that comes to mind. Since vinegar is naturally acidic, it can cut through grease, grime, and mildew without leaving a residue or buildup. To use vinegar to clean greasy cabinets, grimey tables, or mildewed walls, follow these instructions. To clean wooden furniture with vinegar, you'll need:

For caked-on grease, grime and mildew, use undiluted vinegar. Dilute vinegar and water 1:1 for a daily disinfectant.

  1. Add undiluted vinegar to the spray bottle
  2. Thoroughly spray mildew, mould, or grime with vinegar. You can also wet a paper towel with vinegar and saturate the dirty areas
  3. Let the vinegar sit for 10-15 minutes
  4. Wipe clean with a damp cloth

Professional Cleaning Products

Spray polishes and cleaner may be used but know that aerosol sprays and other chemical products can dull the appearance of wood over time. Many soaps and cleansers are available at your local home improvement store and prove to be very effective. Before applying cleaning products to your wooden furniture, we recommend talking to the manufacturer for advice.

Wood Oil Soap

Wood oil soap is a great option for cleaning cupboards and floors and any wood that will benefit from a coating of oil. We have added a few tips for cleaning with wood oil soap.

Dish soap

One of the top grease and grime cutting methods is an everyday household item you already have in your kitchen. Just as dish soap cuts the grease from last night's supper, it can cut through the leftovers on the table just as well. Dish soap is an effective tool to clean the grime and ingrained dirt off your wood furniture. To clean grime off wood furniture with dish soap, mix a few drops of dish detergent with one cup of water to clean sticky grimey spots off your wood furniture. To test this cleaning solution on your wood, put a few drops of grease-cutting dish soap on a cotton ball and dip it in warm water. Clean a small spot to see how the wood may be affected.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits can be effective in removing years of filth and grime. Mineral spirits can be used as paint thinner. However, the spirits are low in odour and more refined. You can imagine how getting carried away with mineral spirits could prove to be too much of a good thing. If used properly, mineral spirits can be effective in removing many years of filth and grime.

Conclusion: High-Quality Wood & Proper Care is the Key to Lasting Beautiful Furniture

Whether you're reconditioning a timeless heirloom or the new entryway furniture for your Calgary home, a quality piece is the most obvious key to long-lasting furniture that can be passed down from one generation to another. Whatever you're seeking for your home, we provide the highest quality materials reflective of today’s sleek and modern designs. We’ll also provide expert advice on how to clean your wooden furniture, how often, and what products to use. Contact Home Evolution to speak with our team of design and furniture experts.


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