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How to Clean and Polish Your Wood

We like wood with history—just not too much! If you have furniture or floors that are damaged, don’t despair. There are some simple, extremely low-cost tricks you can use to bring back the beauty and integrity of your wood furniture and floors.

By
Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
3-minute read
cleaning and polishing wood

Clean furniture and floors

Remove water rings

If you have kids, you probably have watermarks on your finished wood table. Use a little petroleum jelly to remove the white stains. Just rub the area with the jelly and let it sit for several hours (or even overnight). Then rub again with a soft cloth—the stain should disappear.

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Another way to erase water rings

Does your wood furniture have white rings left from wet glasses? Remove them with a mixture of 2 tablespoons corn oil and enough baking soda to make a paste. Apply the paste to the rings and let sit for at least 1 hour before rubbing the area gently. Or give mayonnaise a shot: Rub a tiny bit (1/2 teaspoon) on the ring and let it sit overnight. In the morning, just wipe with a damp cloth and the ring should be gone!

Erase wood scratches and dents

Head to the kitchen for a solution. For tiny scratches in your wooden table or floor, rub vegetable or canola oil into the surface. The oil will darken the area and help it blend in.

Related: 6 Items You Can Use to Cover Wood Scratches

Whip up your own wood cleaner

It’s simple: Just combine the juice from one lemon with 2 cups vegetable or olive oil. Use it just like you would use a store-bought cleaner, and fill your room with the fresh scent! Use this on your furniture or floor.

A very light coat will nourish the wood and help protect the finish, but be sure to rub it in well so it doesn’t leave a residue.

Steal a secret from your shoes.

Does your wooden coffee table, dresser, or dining room furniture have visible scratches? No sweat! Use a similarly hued shoe polish to fill in the offending marks.

Deep clean and shine

Your wooden kitchen cabinets may look clean, but over time, they can develop a sticky film. To eliminate it, mix 1 part vegetable or coconut oil with 2 parts baking soda, and rub on the cabinets. Remove the paste with a damp cloth, and then dry with a clean rag. You’ll be surprised at how much brighter they look!

See also: How to Bring Your Outdoor Furniture Back to Life

Polish furniture and floors

Get gorgeous wood floors

Those tannins in black tea also work wonders to shine and richen the color of hardwood flooring. Simply rub on some brewed tea (keeping moisture to a minimum) and let air-dry.

Save flat beer to shine furniture

Stale beer is a great cleanser for wooden furniture. The next time you have flat beer left over, don’t dump it out. Instead, use it to dampen a soft, clean cloth, then wipe it onto your wood furniture. Finish with a dry cloth for an amazing shine.

Give old wood new life

We love the antique look of old wooden furniture. But sometimes “old” just looks, well, old rather than “antique.” Get wood gleaming again and smooth away any imperfections and scratches with an easy trick that is amazingly effective. You only need two items that you probably already have in your kitchen: oil and vinegar. (Yep, like the salad dressing!) Mix 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar with 3/4 cup olive or vegetable oil. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and rub on for a brand-new look.

You can choose to add 8 to 10 drops of an essential oil (we like lemon, orange, or tangerine) for a sweet scent.

Prevent polish buildup

Excess polish can leave a dull finish on wooden furniture. To remove it, mix together 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Apply to the surface and wipe right off. Cornstarch will also do the trick: Sprinkle a little on the furniture and polish with a soft cloth. 

Just for fun: Is the 5-Second Rule True?

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.