How to Clean Oak Furniture

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How to Clean Oak Furniture

Staff Writer · Mar 1, 2010

While owning oak furniture adds a traditional and classic look to any apartment, they do require more care and maintenance than other furniture options. You’ll need to set a regular schedule to clean them, and there are times in between that you’ll need to get rid of dirt and stains. Protecting this asset is important, and it’s something that you can sell for a handsome price in a moving sale, if you care for it well. Some day it might be considered an antique. Follow these cleaning guidelines so that you don’t ruin your oak furniture:

Clean Spills Immediately

Stains that set into your oak furniture may be impossible to clean. You must clean spills and stains as soon as they happen, or it will soak into the oak. In this regard, oak furniture takes high maintenance, and if you don’t have the time for it, choose another material for your furniture. Otherwise, be prepared to clean up spills while entertaining guests, or interrupting work to take care of a stain before it sets in.

Clean with a Rag

Take a rag and rub the stain out. The key is to select the right substance to use with the rag to remove dirt and stains. What you use depends on the oak furniture you have and the stain. Test a solution first on a part of the furniture that’s out of sight. Some substances to try are:

  • Turpentine
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Camphorated oil
  • Teak Oil
  • Lemon oil with table salt
  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Ammonia mixed with water

Try each of these in order if one doesn’t clean it. Move down the list, testing an obscure spot on the furniture, until you find the right product. What you don’t want to do is clean your oak furniture with harsh household cleaners. For example, it’s a terrible idea to clean the furniture with Comet or an all purpose household cleaner. It would be better to leave the stain untouched. You’ll ruin the finish on the furniture if you use these.

Scrape Burn Marks

You can’t treat oak furniture with oils, alcohol or salt to remove burn marks. Use a knife to carefully scrape burn marks off your oak furniture. Apply a coat of varnish when done to restore the area that you scrape. A basic polish and wax might work fine if the scrape is minor.

Condition Your Oak Furniture

Part of the cleaning process includes conditioning your furniture. This locks in moisture so that your oak furniture can look its best. Apply linseed or lemon oil to all the furniture that you have indoors. Keep an eye on it to make sure the furniture dries completely. The last thing you want is for it to grow mold or mildew because of too much moisture.

Now that you’ve cleaned your oak furniture, apply a protectant. This will prevent future stains from setting in, making it easier to care for and maintain. Your local home improvement or hardware store will have a protectant to use.

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