DIY Network

Quick Cleaning Tips

Polishing Wood Furniture

Learn how to make your own natural furniture polish and get expert tips and techniques for cleaning wood.

More in Decorating

Three DIY Furniture Polish Recipes

Once these homemade recipes have been mixed, pour them in clean, labeled glass or plastic containers.

Recipe #1
1 cup mineral oil
3 drops lemon oil or extract

Recipe #2
2 oz. grated beeswax
5 oz. turpentine

Recipe #3
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar

The oil nourishes the wood while the vinegar cleans it.

Recipes #1 and #2 can be stored in glass or plastic (make sure they’re clean) containers, but #3 should be poured into a spray bottle.

Now that the recipes have been made, now it’s time to see how they work. Follow these expert tips:

  • Spray or pour the homemade solution on a soft cloth (never spray directly on the furniture) and work it in, wiping with the grain. Right away you will see the luster return to the wood. If the wood looks dry, let it sit and then go over it one more time with the oil and vinegar.
  • If the wood has detail work, go over the area well with the cloth and solution, then take a soft-bristle brush to work the solution into the grooves. Buff with a soft cloth.

Now that the furniture is polished and sparkling clean, learn some common problems with wood furniture and ways to solve them:

  • Removing Old, Dull Furniture Polish: Steep two tea bags in boiling water. Let the tea cool to room temperature, take a soft cloth, wring it out in the tea until it’s damp and wash the wood. The tannic acid from the tea is wonderful for maintaining wood. You’ll be surprised at how the wood will shine.
  • Water and Heat Marks: Apply a little mayonnaise -- not salad dressing -- onto the spots, spread with a finger, let it soak for a few hours to overnight. Wipe and polish the entire table to restore the shine.
  • Removing Difficult Marks: For even the most difficult marks such as a writing pen, mayonnaise (the all-purpose cleaner) is still the way to go, along with some Rottenstone (a mild pumice). Mix the pumice and mayo, then work the mixture into the spot in the direction of the wood grain. This may take a little time. Reapply as needed, then take a cloth to clean.
  • Restoring Dry- and Old-Looking Wood: First, don’t throw it out. Restore it. Work some petroleum jelly into the wood with your fingers with a massage action, and if the wood is in really bad shape, leave the jelly on for some time. Finish by working into the grain and buffing with a soft cloth.

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