How to Clean Wood Furniture

Say goodbye to water stains, ink marks and polish buildup on your wood furniture by following these simple cleaning tips and tricks.



You dust and shine your wood furniture regularly, but over time those polishes and dust combine to leave a dark film on tables, chairs and shelves. To keep your furniture looking its best, you need to do a periodic deep cleaning. Here’s how to clean wood furniture without damaging its finish. 

Dust the furniture to remove surface dirt. Now you’re ready to remove light soiling. Start with the gentlest cleaner and move up to stronger ones as needed. Try mixing a weak solution of water and dish washing soap. Dip a soft cloth in the solution, wring it out and wipe the entire piece. You want a damp cloth, not a wet one. Don’t saturate the wood, and rinse your cloth often. Take a second, clean cloth and dry the piece thoroughly. 

Here’s how to clean wood furniture that’s stained or has other problems.

Remove Old Polish 

Knowing how to clean old wood furniture that has decades’ old buildup of polish will help you revitalize an antique. 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.

Remove Water Stains 

Here’s how to remove water rings from wood where someone has put a hot or cold drink directly on a table. Put some non-gel toothpaste on the spot and rub with a soft cloth till the stain is lifted. For stubborn stains, mix equal parts baking soda and toothpaste. Wipe the toothpaste off with a clean damp cloth and dry thoroughly.  

Erase Difficult Marks 

To remove an ink mark, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water into a thin paste. Apply to the stain and rub gently with a soft cloth until the stain disappears. Wipe the toothpaste off with a clean damp cloth and dry thoroughly. 

Once your furniture is clean, wipe a layer of wood polish on it to preserve the finish and add shine. You can use commercially prepared lemon oil. You can also make a simple polish by mixing 1 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup white vinegar. Pour it on a soft cloth and work it into the wood, wiping with the grain. Buff till shiny. Knowing how to clean wood furniture will help you keep your possessions looking lovely, longer.

Next Up

How to Clean Wood Cabinets

Learn how to care and clean wood cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom. 

How to Clean Carpet

From pet stains to spilled juice, here's how you can clean your carpet without calling in a professional.

How to Clean a Rug

Instead of spending a fortune getting your area rug professionally cleaned, just follow these cleaning tips from DIY experts.

How to Use a Pressure Washer

Discover tips and general information on using a pressure washer to clean a deck and other surfaces around the home.

Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

Learn about the best ways to clean outdoor cushions, canvas seats and chair backs, and white and colored plastic.

How to Clean Brick and Concrete With a Pressure Washer

Power washing patios and walkways can make weathered brick and concrete look brand new. Before you get started read these tips to make sure you get the job done right. 

How to Maintain Garden Hoses, Sprinklers and Watering Accessories

Here's the dirt on garden hoses, specialized attachments, sprinklers, watering accessories, and how to tame an unruly hose.

How to Care for Lawn and Garden Tools

Get tips on keeping your garden tools rust-free, sharpened and mechanically sound.

To-Do List for Fall Gardening

October and November are good months to do some gardening and landscaping. Here are just a few things a gardener could -- or should -- be doing.

Easy Maintenance Tips for Grills

Keep your grill burning bright for years with this simple cleaning and care guide.
More from:

Spring Spruce-Up

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Discover Made + Remade

See the latest DIY projects, catch up on trends and meet more cool people who love to create.

Make It. Fix It. Learn It. Find It.