How to Clean an Antique Wood Table & Chairs Without Damaging Them

Antique wood furniture ages differently depending upon its own history and environment, resulting in one-of-a-kind objects that make for great conversation pieces for your home. If your dining table and chairs are worn that the end is excessively damaged, it is best to consult a conservation professional about how to move in restoring and cleaning it, because a first finish is a significant part of the value of a antique furniture pieces. But if the end is intact or only slightly worn, then the pieces likely only need to be washed to remove stains and dirt.

Dust Away

The first step to cleaning antique wood furniture will be to quietly remove any dust that has built upon its surfaces. To prevent scraping the wood, use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment for hard-to-reach surfaces or crevices, like the table and chair legs, or simply use a handheld soft brush or very soft fabric for your bigger surfaces.

Strike Dirt

So long as the finish to the wood is still in good shape, you can use a diluted soap on almost any regions of the table and chairs with heavy levels of dirt accumulation or water-soluble stains. Dilute a household detergent or, better yet, a conservation-grade furniture detergent with water, in a ratio of approximately 1 teaspoon of soap each pint of water. Apply a soft cloth that’s been dampened with the solution to the surface of the wood. Rinse with another soft cloth dampened with distilled water. Be careful not to use too much water, since this can stain and damage the wood.

Go to the Grime

Oil-based stains like fingerprints, and oily dirt and grime from past uses of wax, can accumulate in a wood piece’s finish. If these stains are evident in your piece, they can be attached with paint thinner, or mineral spirits. Dampen a soft cloth with a small amount of paint thinner and analyze a very small affected area to make sure that it does not have a negative reaction to the finish. Otherwise, clean all affected regions. If wood does react badly into the paint thinner, consult a conservation professional to determine the best method of cleaning.

Waxy Complete

After cleaning, applying a high-quality furniture wax into your pieces will protect them from further harm without disturbing the original finish. Place a small amount of wax onto a soft cloth and rub in a circular motion; change fabrics often. Choose a mild or clear wax for light finishes. Pick a dark wax for darker finishes to steer clear of sesame or marks.

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