Whether you have wood window treatments, wood paneling, or wood siding, clean wood can be tricky. You should be dusting off and shining any wood in (or out of) your home regularly. But it should probably be deep cleaned periodically. Cleaning wood can be tricky because wood is an easily damaged material.
Before washing your wood, consider its finish. Wood that is painted, stained, sealed, waxed, or finished with something else will all react differently to different cleaning methods. Be sure to do your research before you get going.
When you’re preparing to clean your wood, you’ll need something to dust with, some gentle cleaning solution, and a soft washcloth. Microfiber cloths are ideal.
Cleaning Off Wood
- Dust it off—start cleaning your wood by removing any dust. This can be done quickly and often to remove any surface dust and dirt. Be sure to use clean, dry, soft cloths or feather dusters for your dusting. These won’t scratch your wood. Dust in the direction of the grain, after years of cleaning in this pattern, it will help to hold the direction and pattern of the grain.
- Soil lightly—use a gentle cleaner and damp cloth to clean off the wood. Mix together water and a little dishwashing soap, dip your cloth in the solution, and wipe off the wood. Be sure the cloth is not soaked, but just damp.
- Use wood polish—wiping a thin layer of wood polish on your wood will help to preserve its finish and make it look shiny. If you want to avoid chemicals, you can make your own polish. Try mixing olive oil with white vinegar, ratio 1:4. You can also use lemon oil.
Remove Stains and Marks
- Remove polish buildup—wood that is being polished regularly can gather years of polish buildup. To remove polish buildup, try cleaning with some tea. Steep two tea bags in boiling water, allow the tea to cool and using a soft cloth, wipe away buildup. The tannic acid in tea will help to maintain the integrity of the wood and help it to shine.
- Remove water stains—wood can easily get marked up with water stains. If you’re seeing watermarks on your wood, use some non-gel toothpaste and a soft, damp washcloth to scrub away the stain. If the stain is particularly stubborn, try using toothpaste, baking soda, and water to scrub at the stain. Be sure to dry the area completely.
- Remove ink marks—wood can be stained by an ink mark or other stains. Try mixing together 1 T. of baking soda and 1 t. or water into a thick paste. Lather this paste on the stain and rub gently with a soft, damp cloth.