Friday, April 01, 2011

Taking care of wood furniture

Since you asked...  :)

Here are the products I have used for years and years.  Especially on my inherited antiques and vintage pieces (those less than one hundred years old but still real wood). 

Murphy's Original Formula oil soap to clean wood (use according to directions)
The best stuff for cleaning any kind of wood.  I think they make a special formula for wood floors, too, so make certain you get the original formula for furniture, kitchen cabinets, etc.

Only wood which is really grungy gets an annual Murphy's treatment (like the dining table surface, wood kitchen cabinets, coffee table, etc.).

Lemon oil... any good brand... for regular twice yearly rubs.
I use it when not using a scratch cover.

Old English Scratch Cover - both the dark wood formula and the light wood formula.
If you can only afford one formula, I've found the light wood formula works on dark wood, too, but I prefer using the dark wood formula on... dark wood. 

This stuff is amazing.  I've used it on furniture I thought would need to be refinished and it transforms the wood into a thing of beauty.  It's available at most hardware stores (even the local Wal Mart carries it).

If you use the scratch cover, you don't need to use lemon oil, too. It is an oil.

Wood Paste
If your wood furniture is very dry, you may need a good wood paste to rub into the wood.  Since my wood furniture is in good shape, I really only use it on the dining table so it will not be a priority to replace when I run out of my current brand.  I'll use the lemon oil or light wood scratch cover and give it more time to dry.

If you refinish furniture, you will probably need it.  To find a good brand, ask the people who own an antique store!  That's how I found the one I have used a few years.  They are also the most knowledgeable people to lead you to expert furniture refinishers, should you need one.

Extra Virgin olive oil
Yes... the kind you cook with!

I've had the same cutting board for about thirty years.  When it is looking rather anemic, I rub the olive oil into the wood before I go to bed at night... giving it at least good eight hours to absorb before I use the board again.

Soft sturdy paper towels (cannot be cheap paper towels!), old t-shirts, and Zip-Lock bags
These are what I use when I'm oiling furniture.  Cheap paper towels leave bits and pieces on the furniture... yuk... buy the good stuff since it's usually just a little more in cost.  I use old t-shirts, old (clean, of course) diapers, etc. when I have them.

Why Zip-Lock bags?  Quite often the paper toweling or cotton cloth I'm using becomes saturated with lemon oil and can be used later.  I toss it in the Zip-Lock bag... seal... and use it the next time I dust the antiques.

I never, ever, ever use a product like Pledge on my furniture.  In my family, that would qualify as heresy.  The Wood Police would know it.  I don't know anyone in the wood profession who would use it.  I have used Endust and similar dusting products... never sprayed directly on wood.

I usually "lemon oil" furniture in early spring after it has been in the dry air all winter... then again in autumn before the furnace is lit for the season (just the opposite if you live in Australia or New Zeeland!).  If you are constantly washing a real wood dining table... you may want to wash it with Murphy's Oil Soap instead of just soap & water once in awhile.

I have a couple pieces of furniture that came to me already dried out (like the buffet cabinet my husband brought home from his sister's place a couple years ago).  These pieces of furniture need one or two extra massages with lemon oil each year as they're very dry.  Plan on letting the furniture completely dry from the oil before placing items on top of it again.

Picture: John Bull;


jAne said...

*****thank you*****

Vee said...

Thanks, Brenda! What a good tip about using a zip-lock bag. I have never thought to do that, but I will now. Pledge is a no go here as well. I just remembered what my friend suggested I use on an old Victrola that my grandmother had on her sun porch. The wood had completely dried out. The recommendation was Danish oil. Now ask your hubby about that one. Have a nice puttery kind of day...

Sharon said...

Hi--great help! I was wondering what you would do if someone (like me) has used Pledge on my cherry wood coffee table? How can I "make it better"?

walkmom said...

I have the table my mother grew up with, maybe purchased in the 1920s--oak with a pedestal. I keep a plastic tablecloth on it to protect it from my 6 kids. I was afraid to use it and then put lemon oil on it because of the warning label on the container of oil. Do you use it on eating surfaces? I use it for other antiques, but I don't eat off them. Wonder if you could use olive oil instead?

Thanks for your help.

jules said...

Thank you!