All the ways you should clean your wood furniture, but don’t

The cleaning products section of the supermarket has many options for cleaning and polishing wooden furniture. And while those formulated for use on wood get the job done, you don’t always need a dedicated product to make your mahogany desk or oak chairs shine. Here are other ways to clean wood, many of which involve items you may already have at home.

How to clean wooden furniture with household items

As always, if your wood furniture is new enough to come with the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean it, follow them. Also, keep in mind that many modern “wooden” pieces of furniture derive their appearance from laminate or veneer, which may have different care instructions than solid wood.

Your best bet is to use a microfiber cloth to clean the wood, as the tiny fibers in the material are able to catch more dirt and dust than other types of cloth. And start with at least two (but ideally more), making sure to keep one dry.

Here are some methods for cleaning wooden furniture:

Routine/light cleaning

If you’re cleaning wooden furniture that’s currently in use or on display in your home (as opposed to a piece you bought at a yard sale that needs to be deep cleaned), wipe it down with a microfiber cloth dry, removing fingerprints or smudges. as you go.

For stubborn sticky spots, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth and gently rub the sticky area until it disappears. If it still won’t budge, mix a small amount of dish soap with warm water, dampen your cloth in it, and repeat the steps above.


Apply a light coat of gel-free toothpaste to a water ring or spot on wooden furniture. Let sit for five minutes (but no more than that, so the toothpaste doesn’t stain the wood itself). Then, buff it with a dry microfiber cloth, making sure to only scrub the water stain itself, avoiding the surrounding wood as much as possible.


Like toothpaste, mayonnaise can also be used for water stains and trapped moisture on wooden furniture. Use your finger or a spatula to apply the mayonnaise to the stains in a circular motion. Let sit for an hour, then check part of the stain to see if it’s gone. If so, remove the mayonnaise with a cloth, then dry the areas with another.

DIY dusting and cleaning spray

Looking for a solution you can create yourself and have on hand for routine cleaning? You might want to mix up a batch of this:

  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mineral oil or coconut oil
  • 15 drops lemon oil

Pour the ingredients into an empty spray bottle and shake well (at the start and before each use). To use, simply spray it on wood furniture and use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down.

DIY cleaning varnish

Want to clean your dirty wood and make it shine? Mix equal parts olive oil, denatured alcohol, turpentine and strained lemon juice for a do-it-yourself polish. Then, apply it with a microfiber cloth and buff it with another clean, dry microfiber cloth.

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