Cleaning Antiques

An aged appearance can give a piece personality, but too many scratches can detract from the furniture's appearance. Follow these simple tips to clean antique finishes.
Related To:

The old philosophy in furniture restoration was to strip the antique down to the bare wood. Today we want to preserve as much of the original finish and color as possible.

tung oil is one of oldest finishes

tung oil is one of oldest finishes

Figure B

Often what people perceive to be an old, worn finish is just dirt and grime. In such cases, all a piece needs is a good cleaning. Wipe it with a rag loaded with a cleaner specifically made for use on wood. Under the grime there may be a perfectly good finish.

Never use water to clean wood: it will cause the joints to swell.

If the finish on a piece has gotten so dark that you can't see the beauty of the wood, give it the cotton-ball test. Moisten a cotton ball with acetone (nail-polish remover), and rub it on the finish. A clean cotton ball indicates that the piece has a polyurethane finish and needs paint and varnish remover to be refinished. A dark residue on the cotton ball indicates an old shellac finish, which can be easily removed with a product called furniture refinisher. Simply rub the refinisher on the piece to remove the old finish. Finish the stripped piece with a coat of tung oil.

Tung oil is one of the oldest finishes and one of the easiest to apply. Just rub it into the wood with a rag. When the wood begins to dry out after a few months, apply another coat.

An old piece with a spotty finish doesn't necessarily need a complete refinishing job.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Tips for Cleaning Leather

Find tips, techniques and recipes for keeping leather in top shape.

Tips for Cleaning Leather Upholstery

Leather is a popular choice in furniture, car interiors, clothes and accessories. Along with the cozy leather sofa and great shoes, comes the frustration of keeping them clean.

Tips for Cleaning Tile, Wood and Vinyl Floors

Get expert tips, techniques and recipes for cleaning all types of floors, from ceramic tile to hardwood.

Cleaning With Lemon Juice

Find seven household uses for lemons. They are a natural disinfectant, stain remover and are wonderful for polishing metal. Also, lemons are inexpensive and eco-friendly.

Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

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

Tips on Cleaning and Maintaining a Fireplace

Cleaning and maintaining a fireplace can be a DIY job, but before the chimney is cleaned, key areas must be checked. Use these tips to ensure fireplace and chimney safety.

Tips for Cleaning and Repairing Gutters

Keep rain gutters clean and unclogged to prevent damage to your home's roof and exterior.

Cleaning Brushes Can Be Quick and Easy

Don't put off a paint job because of the dreaded cleanup afterward. Learn these tips that will make cleaning your paintbrushes quick and easy.

On TV

Man Caves

7am | 6c

Renovation Realities

7:30am | 6:30c

House Crashers

8:30am | 7:30c

Nashville Flipped

4:30pm | 3:30c

Nashville Flipped

5:30pm | 4:30c

Nashville Flipped

6:30pm | 5:30c
7pm | 6c
7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Rehab Addict

8pm | 7c

Rehab Addict

8:30pm | 7:30c

Rehab Addict

9:30pm | 8:30c

Bargain Mansions

10:30pm | 9:30c

Bargain Mansions

11:30pm | 10:30c

Rehab Addict

12am | 11c

Rehab Addict

12:30am | 11:30c

Bargain Mansions

1:30am | 12:30c

Bargain Mansions

2:30am | 1:30c

Rehab Addict

3:30am | 2:30c

Renovation Realities

4:30am | 3:30c

Get Social With Us

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