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Care and Cleaning for Varnished Wood Furniture

How to Keep Varnished Wood Furniture Looking its Best


Care and Cleaning for Varnished Wood Furniture

Baluster End Table

Photo (c) Lane

Varnished wood is one of the most common surfaces available in furniture. It looks attractive and it is durable and easy to maintain. That alone may be one of the biggest reasons for its popularity.

Regular Care:

Everyday care for varnished wood is simple:

  • Protect from water and other liquids, such as alcohol, food or cosmetics.
  • Some experts recommend vacuuming with a brush attachment, but regular cleaning with a dry, soft, lint free cloth does the job better. Cleaning with a soft cloth removes dust, smudges as well as giving a soft shine to the wood surface.
  • To remove stickiness or light soil wipe with a damp cloth. Follow up by rubbing with a dry cloth immediately. Test in an inconspicuous spot before you do this, and never leave a damp cloth sitting on the varnished surface.

Special Care:

From time to time you might have to clean your varnished wood furniture more thoroughly to restore its appearance and sheen.

  • To protect varnished wood, apply a coat of paste wax. You don’t need to do this very often. While applying wax helps protect from moisture and dust, never do this more than once a year to prevent wax buildup.
  • If there is wax buildup remove with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits or synthetic turpentine. Do not use natural turpentine as it may leave a sticky residue. Make sure to follow all label directions when using solvents. Don't use near any flame, spark, pilot light, and absolutely no smoking. Protect your skin by wearing rubber gloves and wash the gloves in hot sudsy water before storing. Air-dry rags to evaporate the solvent before disposing.
  • Some varnished finishes can be washed if they are badly soiled, but first test in an inconspicuous area. If the surface streaks, or turns white and hazy, do not wash.
  • If it is safe to proceed, use a solution of mild detergent and lukewarm water. With a clean sponge or soft cloth wash, rinse and dry only a small area at a time. You will have to work to avoid over-wetting the finish. Avoid excess water, especially around joints. When completely dry, polish or wax.
  • Polish can be used to give your furniture shine, but avoid using polish very often as overuse can cause buildup. When you do use it, use a silicon-free variety. Silicon can leave a dull film over time.
  • Oil soaps can also be used on some varnish finishes, but always test first in an inconspicuous spot.
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