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How To Clean Wood Indoors and Out

How To Clean Wood

Wood window treatments, paneling, siding, and furniture must be cleaned delicately, and knowing how to clean wood correctly ensures it will last. 

All wood needs regular cleaning and a good deep cleaning every once in a while. However, it will be different depending on whether indoors or outdoors. Cleaning wood can be tricky because wood is an easily damaged material.

Besides the wood grain itself, you’ll need to 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.

To help you get started, here are a few tips on how to clean wood around your home.

Cleaning Indoor Wood

Whether you’re talking about wood paneling or furniture, cleaning and care are similar. 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. 

  1. Dust it off—start cleaning your wood by removing any dust. You can do this quickly and often to remove 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. 
  2. Wipe lightly—use a gentle cleaner and damp cloth to clean the wood. Mix water with a little dishwashing soap, dip your cloth, and wipe the wood. Be sure the cloth is not soaked but just damp to avoid water soaking into the wood and warping it. Also, abstain from using all-purpose cleaners on wood. The harsh chemicals can damage both the wood and finish over time.
  3. 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 in a 1:2 ratio. A few drops of lemon oil give it a fresh lemon scent.

It’s best to lightly clean and dust your indoor wood every week to keep dust, cobwebs, and fingerprints under control. If grease (including fingerprints and popping oil from the stovetop – common with kitchen cabinets) stays on wood surfaces too long, it’ll start to set. At this point, these stains will be much more difficult to get off and may even begin to trap other dirt and dust.

Remove Stains and Marks

  1. 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. 
  2. 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 thoroughly. 
  3. Remove ink marks—wood can be stained by an ink mark or other stains. Try mixing together 1 Tbsp. of baking soda and 1 tsp. of water into a thick paste. Lather this paste on the stain and rub gently with a soft, damp cloth.
  4. Remove grease stains—if you find a build-up of oil or grease, mineral spirits can remove it easily. Pour a little on a cloth and lightly wipe the wood. It may take a few passes to completely dissolve and remove the stain.

 Cleaning Outdoor Wood

Again, there are a lot of similarities whether you’re looking at wood siding or a wooden deck and railing. But unlike indoor wood, outdoor surfaces have to deal with sun, rain, snow, ice, wind, sprinklers, and swallows building nests under the eaves. The areas to clean are generally much larger as well.

Most of the time, outdoor wood can go a little longer between cleanings, though if you tend to get a lot of dust storms, rain has a tendency to leave a film on everything, or your area is prone to mold growth, you may need to do it more often. Otherwise, once or twice a year is probably sufficient.

Here’s our suggestion for how to clean wood outdoors. 

  1. Gather the right equipment—you’ll need a way to reach the surface of course. For a deck, you can use a regular brush or broom with a mild cleaning product. Simple Green is a good option unless you have mold; then you’ll need a disinfectant. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are fine options.
    For siding, we recommend a
    wand that attaches to your garden hose that has a brush at the end and a reservoir for a cleaning product. Oh, you’ll need a ladder too.
  2. Protect things you don’t want getting wet—using plastic sheeting or bags, make sure delicate landscaping and electrical components are water-tight. Also, close your windows if you don’t want your carpet getting a bath.
  3. Start at the top–spray the area first and let the cleaning solution get to work dissolving dirt. Then scrub the area clean. Take your time and make sure you don’t miss any spots. If you’re up on a ladder, you don’t want to see things you missed after you’ve already moved on.
  4. Rinse it off—no need to leave the cleaning solution on the surface. Gratefully, you can accomplish this from the ground. If you have mold, you should let the moldicide work for at least ten minutes before rinsing it off. 

Many people suggest using a pressure washer to clean outdoor wood because it’s an easy way to reach large areas of siding quickly. Sometimes pressure washing can get the job done, but it’s dangerous if you’re not intimately familiar with what it can do. A pressure washer can remove paint and even etch the wood itself. If you use a pressure washer, start at the lowest setting and work up if needed.

Need Wood Replaced? Mountain States Windows & Siding is Here for You

Sometimes a good cleaning is all your wood needs, and knowing how to clean wood properly is a great way to extend its lifetime. But eventually, your siding and window treatments will need to be replaced. If your wood is at that point, we will take good care of you.

We will replace your wood siding, window treatments, soffits, and fascia, disrupting your lives as little as possible, and leave you with a like-new home. 

We’ll start by discussing what you’d like to replace it with – new wood or vinyl, a new color perhaps – and then get you a fair estimate. Contact us today to begin.

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