Wood Furniture Care

There is something truly special about living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture made from wood. For its weight, wood is one of the strongest materials known to man. Wood is a natural product; just as each tree is unique, each piece of wood furniture is different in depth of color, richness of texture, and pattern of the grain. Quality wood home furniture in your living room, dining room, or bedroom provides warmth and creates a rich, elegant ambience while offering gentle, lasting comfort. If properly cared for, wood furniture develops its own patina, or surface appearance, of softness and mellowness, and increases in value with age.

Your home’s wood furniture can be made from hardwoods, softwoods, or a combination of both. Hardwoods, such as oak, ash, maple, cherry, and poplar, come from broad-leafed, deciduous trees that produce a fruit or nut and become dormant in the winter months. Softwoods, such as pine, cedar, hemlock, redwood, and spruce, are harvested from needle-leafed, coniferous trees, which produce cones and are typically evergreens. Hardwoods are used for all types of living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture, flooring, and kitchen cabinetry. Although softwoods are typically used as structural lumber (for commercially available 2-by-4’s, for example, or in frames for upholstered sofas and chairs), they’re sometimes used for decorative applications as well.

Cleaning Wood Furniture

Cleaning is very important for preserving the value of the wood furniture in your living room, dining room, and bedroom. As you would wash a car before polishing it, you should clean your wood before you polish it. Although you don’t see most dirt and soil on wood, it builds up just as it does on mirrors, a stove, or windows. This buildup may consist of oily or greasy film from heating and cooking, creosote from a fireplace, or just plain dust. Cleaning removes these contaminants so they don’t get ground into the finish and into the wood. To avoid the damaging effects of buildup, horizontal surfaces such as tabletops and desktops should be cleaned and polished monthly. Vertical surfaces should be cleaned every eight weeks.

Choose a wood furniture cleaning product that fits within the parameters outlined by the furniture manufacturer. If you’re not sure what product to use, contact either the furniture manufacturer or the merchant where the furniture was purchased for more information. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully, and test the product in an inconspicuous area before application. Beware of products that contain a high percentage of silicone oil. Silicone-based wood cleaners can seep through the original finish and cause permanent damage to the wood furniture in your living room, dining room, or bedroom over time.


Between cleanings, wood should be dusted regularly—ideally, at least once a week.

  • Never dust with a dry cloth. Most dust particles have sharp edges that can easily cut into and scratch the finish of your home’s wood furniture. Because of these sharp edges, dry dusting should be avoided.
  • Never use a feather duster. A feather duster simply scatters dust particles into the air, where they can fall back to rest on and harm your living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture.

For best results, use a clean, washable, lint-free cotton cloth, such as an old T-shirt, a cotton diaper, or a dishtowel. Make sure the cloth is free of buttons, snaps, zippers, etc., which could harm the finish of your home furniture.

Sprinkle a few drops of water, a dusting aid, or polish on your dusting cloth. The cloth should be damp, but should not leave the wood visibly wet when you wipe. Remove the dust with a gentle, oval motion that follows the grain of the wood. Always remember that in most cases you’re polishing the finish, not the wood—so use a light touch.


Sponsored by Rhodes Furniture

You’ve decorated your home with the furniture of your dreams, but how do you keep your living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture looking beautiful for years to come? While it’s easy to find opinions on the best methods for cleaning and maintaining your mattresses and wood, upholstery, and leather furniture, it’s difficult to know whom you can trust with the care of these valuable items.

Home Furniture Care was developed by the Rhodes family of stores to provide the information you need to safely care for, clean, and protect the living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture in your family’s home. Combining more than 125 years of Rhodes’ furniture experience with the knowledge of some of the country’s finest manufacturers, this site is dedicated to helping you maintain the beauty and value of your home furniture investments.

Here you’ll find safe cleaning and dusting methods that will restore, enhance, and preserve the beauty of your fine wood furniture. Discover leather furniture care and fabric stain removal tips that can save and protect your precious upholstered furniture. You’ll also learn about the simple monthly maintenance that can greatly extend the life of your mattresses. Home Furniture Care has the information you need to keep your living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture looking great for years to come.

General Wood Care Tips

  • Keep home furniture out of direct sunlight, which can cause heat damage and bleaching of the wood.
  • To prevent the loss of moisture in wood, keep furniture away from heating and air-conditioning sources.
  • Always use coasters under both hot and cold drinks on your living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture.
  • To prevent gouging and scratching, use felt backing on lamps, ashtrays, and accessories.
  • When serving hot foods, always use place mats under plates and hot pads under serving dishes on wood dining room furniture.
  • To prevent moisture damage to your wood furniture, make sure plants are in drip-proof pots, and keep foliage from touching the furniture surface.
  • When placing items on furniture made from wood, always set them down gently; when retrieving items, pick them up, don’t slide them.
  • Don’t place rubber or synthetic materials, such as plastics, directly on wood finishes, since they might contain chemicals that could damage the finish.
  • Don’t place magazines or newspapers on wood surfaces; the ink will bleed into the finish and eventually damage the wood.
  • Blot spills immediately. Once the surface is dry, coat the area with an appropriate polish or oil.
  • To prevent discoloration, frequently move items on wood furniture that’s exposed to the sun.
  • Avoid using nail polish and remover and harsh household products near wood furniture.
  • Dust furniture at least weekly with a damp, lint-free cloth.
  • Always clean wood furniture before polishing.
  • Always polish wood furniture after cleaning.

Wood Furniture Home Remedies

Moderate to serious damage to fine wood home furniture requires the help of a professional to correct. For simple, everyday wear, try these remedies:

  • To remove cloudiness: Rub wood surface with a cloth dipped in a solution of 1 tablespoon of vinegar added to 1 quart of water. Rub with the grain until surface is completely dry. Follow with application of furniture oil or polish.
  • To remove water rings: Rub water rings with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and cooking oil, rubbing with the grain.
  • To remove heat marks: Coat heat mark area with mayonnaise and let stand for one hour, then wipe off.
  • To remove burns: Rub burn area with the finest-grade steel wool (000 or finer), rubbing lightly with the grain until the burnt material is smoothed off. Follow with an application of furniture oil or polish.
  • To remove candle-wax drippings: Gently scrape off excess wax. Apply a warm (not hot) iron over white cloth to absorb residue. Follow with an application of furniture oil or polish.
  • To remove dents: Wipe dented area with warm water. Apply a compress of paper soaked in warm water to swell the wood fibers. Let sit for 30 minutes and then apply a warm (not hot) iron over cloth until the dent is gone. Follow with an application of furniture oil or polish.

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