Wood Furniture Cleaning Secrets!

You might have noticed during our recent home tour video, that we have a hodge-podge of wood furniture at Clean My Space HQ. And since a popular ask has been how I clean it, I decided to go over in detail how to clean and care for wood furniture.

As surprising as it sounds, the less you do to your wood furniture, the better it is for it.  In fact the varnished wood furniture in my home gets cleaned once a week using nothing more than a microfibre cloth and H2O.  This removes any dust and the microfiber helps shine up the surface.

When looking for the best cleaning tools, check out Maker’s Clean Products. They offer amazing microfiber cloths for all your cleaning needs!

Unfinished Wood

If your wood is unfinished, just clean it using a dry microfiber cloth, as moisture can parch and/or warp the wood. To determine if it is unfinished, add a drop of water to the surface. If it beads, it’s got varnish and if it absorbs in and leaves a mark (which will dry up), it’s unfinished.

Quick side note, if you want to know how to clean hardwood floors, we’ve got a video for that.

What’s Up with Furniture Polish?

According to the website of a popular brand’s manufacturer, store-bought furniture polish is designed to bring out the shine of your wood and polish and protect your furniture. But here’s the kicker: not all wood and wood finishes are created equal and because different specimens and varnishes have different requirements, furniture polish is not an all-in-one solution.  In fact, furniture polish can downright ruin some wood finishes!  Further, and here’s a misconception, it doesn’t even clean anything! It will, however, dull the finish and leave a build up on your furniture over time. So in my professional opinion, leave store-bought furniture polish out of your cleaning kit. However, you should listen to what the manufacturer says, and if it is recommended to clean or polish the wood with a particular product at a particular frequency, then that’s what you do.

Remove that build up!

If you find your wood is really dulled out from a build up of furniture polish, you’ll see a haze or streaks you can’t get rid of. You can either apply a vegetable-based enzyme cleaner to sit on the wood for a couple of minutes to remove the build up, then wipe with a cotton cloth and buff dry.  Review the instructions on the bottle for exact dwell times required, and watch how the enzymes break down the build up to reveal the wood’s natural shine.  If you want a quicker and cheaper hack, simply steep two bags of black tea for 10 minutes in boil in water (something unflavoured, unsweetened, etc.).  Let the tea cool, and then immerse a clean cotton cloth into the tea.  Wring out over the wood piece and let sit for just a moment, and then begin to wipe.  The tannins in the tea will break down that dull, waxy finish to reveal the wood’s natural beauty.

DIY Furniture Polish (and salad dressing)

If you have the need to polish your furniture, and again, speak to the manufacturer or your furniture dealer to get the skinny on whether this is OK or not, just make your own! In a clean spray bottle, add 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts olive oil and shake well. The oil moisturizes the wood and the vinegar cleans it. Kind of like a 2-in-one shampoo/conditioner deal. Spray the cleaner onto a soft cotton cloth and apply in a buffing motion to the wood furniture. You don’t need to do this all the time, just do it when your wood looks a little lacklustre. Using it too often will create a sticky build-up which attracts dust and dirt. No thanks!  When you’re done, you could (if you were thirsty) use this on salad, too! When you are applying anything with oil, remember to use a cotton cloth as opposed to a microfiber cloth so that the oil can actually wash out of the cloth when laundered.

You can use this mixture on antiques, however, do be very careful when dealing with old, antique pieces – or furniture made from exotic woods – they may very well have specific cleaning requirements, so do your research!

If you’re looking for more DIY ideas we’ve got you covered with 3 DIY Cleaners That Will Make Your Home Smell Great!

Heat or Water Marks

If you have heat or water marks, firstly, tsk tsk, secondly, you can restore the wood by applying mayonnaise to the area, leaving it overnight and then buffing it into the table in the morning. Now this one is hard for me to do because I have a major, and I mean major aversion to mayonnaise. I don’t know why this disgusting product works on wood, but it just does.

Preventative Maintenance

The key to keeping your wood furniture in tip-top shape is preventative maintenance!! Always wipe up spills and messes as soon as they happen and try to use placemats and coasters whenever possible.  It’s best to make sure everything decorative which is placed on your furniture has felt pads or something similar on the bottom.  Also, try to keep your wood furniture away from fireplaces and radiators which can sap it of moisture.

So that’s the straight goods on cleaning your woods…hope that helped!

See our E-Book Bundle to take your cleaning game to the next level! It gives you our top 3 e-books (my 3 Wave Cleaning System, 50 DIY Cleaning Recipes, The Complete Guide to Essential Oils) and will give you the perfect start to a cleaner home!

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Looking for a BETTER & EASIER Way to Clean Your Home?

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. Wow, these tips for cleaning wood furniture are just what I was looking for. Thank you very much! As a person who enjoys furniture, it is important to me that the pieces I own remain in pristine shape. We are grateful to Clean My Space for offering these helpful hints and recommendations. Because of this, I am now able to confidently and easily maintain the beauty of my hardwood furniture.

  2. Great website! I moved from AZ to NJ. My furniture is a cloudy mess. It’s good furniture and don’t want to do wrong thing. Who new going from dry climate to humidity would do this HELP

  3. I have wood floors and Woca (coconut oil) is recommended to clean the floors. Are the floors clean if after cleaning you wipe with a paper towel and there is brown Residue? Can’t figure out if floors are just not getting cleaned all the way or this is normal.

    • Hi Natalie, I’ve personally never used that method of cleaning. What I can tell you is that if you oil an unfinished surface, it will darken. The idea when cleaning wood with oil is to wipe off as much excess oil as possible so the floors are no longer greasy.

      However, what I would recommend for your wood floors is our DIY hardwood floor cleaner. It works great, doesn’t leave behind a residue, and it’s less expensive than many store-bought cleaners. Also, read my article How to Clean Hardwood Floors Without Streaks for my recommendations on products and techniques to use on hardwood floors.

  4. I have a beautiful three tier side table I bought in Germany. I have teens who have set iced water glasses on the surface. I love mayo and so I have plenty. I spread it on the top and covered it with plastic wrap to prevent the cat from tracking it or licking it off. I hope this will fix the water marks. Thanks for the tips

  5. Such A Great Blog. Thank U For Sharing Useful Information.
    This Article Really Amazing And So Much Helpful For Me. In fact, I found the information I was looking for in your article.
    It’s really helpful. I have benefited from reading your article. Thank you very much.

  6. Great web site, very useful information. I am happy that I have come across this one, will definitely give it a try to clean furniture as per your advice. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful resourceful information regarding wood furniture care.Great blog to share!!

  7. I used old English on a table barely any and it lightened the dark Grey stain. It was a shiny finished table. Why is this?

  8. It’s interesting to know that if your wood furniture is unfinished, just clean it using a dry microfiber cloth, as moisture can parch and/or warp wood. My husband and I are won vintage a piece of furniture at an auction, and we are looking for advice. I will let him know about your recommendations to clean it and keep it looking beautiful.

  9. Hey! awesome blog……. I lots of enjoying when reads of wooden furniture cleaning secrets, really it’s important tips to make smiley home furniture.
    Thanks, Good Job!!!

  10. There’s no doubt that so many people have to clean their sofas but most of them cannot clean their sofas properly. I’m sure this article will be helpful to so many people. Even my wife had been facing so many issues while cleaning the furniture at my home. I’m glad that I can now help her with this article.

  11. Thanks for your perfect article. This will help. Love your videos. This was a life saver for me. I have Almost used a product that would have totally damaged my floor. Thank you, for shaaring this. Looing foward for anather of your blog.

  12. Thanks for sharing this informative post. This tips you have mentioned in this post, it’s really useful. You are really helping people by providing the information that which things are necessary to have cared…………

  13. First time on internet i ever seen such tremendous superb article on furniture related stuff. It really helpful for me because i also have furniture company where i used to do lot of furniture related works. This article is very good and methods given are also quite handy to be utilized in works. Thanks to author for such good quality information.

  14. I really like that tea idea for cleaning furniture. Should we do it multiple times, or will it be most effective only after the first time? I am looking into restoring some of my grandparents’ furniture, and I thought cleaning it was a good start.

  15. I have faced some problem to clean my home furniture because all are very sensitive. But now I’m happy that I have found a solution via your video. Thanks, Melissa

  16. I just bought a used table and it had a haze from who knows what. I tried the tea method and OH MY GOSH!! It worked beautifully!

  17. That’s good to know that furniture can warp wood. I guess that’s why you don’t use water on an unfinished wood piece. I’m going for a traditional look for my home, so I’ll have to use these tips if I round out the look with wooden pieces.

  18. I have a bedroom set that was my mothers I have no clue what kind of wood it is or if it’s even real wood 🙁 knowing my mother it’s real wood. Too bad I can’t attach a pic will the enzyme cleaner take the furniture polish haze off without ruining the finish that is on it?

    • Plz send more info. Spouse used cheap spray polish on end table belonging to my mom. It now has a hazy finish. He was told of we were out of the good polish just wipe dust off with a plain dry soft cloth. I do not want piece RE finished!


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