Nothing quite matches the warmth and glow of real wood floors and furniture. Keeping wood surfaces clean with the right techniques will pay off in years of beauty and function. Follow these tips:
One of the most important things you can do for wood floors is to vacuum them frequently. Fine grains of grit, dust and dirt that get tracked into your home may be invisible to the eye but will wreak havoc on the finish of a wood floor. If the floor is particularly dirty, vacuum first, then sweep briskly with a stiff broom to loosen particles that may have settled in between cracks, and vacuum again. Place good mats at entrances for foot traffic, and have family members remove their shoes when they come in the door, which will reduce tracked-in, ground-in dirt.
For cleaning stains on wood floors, it is very important to know the finish of the floor before using a product to clean it. Sealed floors, such as those with a permanent polyurethane finish, require different products than waxed floors, for example. Consult the manufacturer or a reliable retailer before choosing a product.
Simple stains can be removed from wood with common household products. A soft cloth dampened in white vinegar and warm water, for example, is safe and often effective. Just be careful not to use too much water; you don’t want it soaking into the wood, just the finish on top of the wood. For grease or melted candle wax spots, the earlier you catch it the better. Apply an ice cube briefly, or a rag wrung out in cold water, to harden the grease. Remove hardened grease or wax with a plastic spatula or side of a dull knife. Then place a cloth diaper, terry towel, or several layers of paper toweling over the spot and iron it on a low setting, allowing the remaining grease to absorb into the towel. Replace towel and repeat until no more stain absorbs.
Wood furniture is easy to care for and requires less fuss than many people expect. Experts say you need only wax your furniture once or twice a year with a quality furniture wax such as Butcher’s Wax or Renaissance Wax, applying with a 0000 grade steel wool or soft cloth. If you see ripples in the surface of the furniture, you are using too much. Simply buff to a deep gloss using a small circular motion, with the final buffing going with the grain of the wood. Then dust weekly using a soft cloth or microfiber duster. Furniture sprays and polishes sold in grocery stores are typically not recommended because they often contain silicone, which over time will break down the finish of your furniture.
Prevention is key, too: keep coasters handy, wipe spills up quickly, and never leave a candle burning
unattended (not only to prevent wax stains but also house fires!).
If you do end up with a water stain on your wood furniture, try this: Rub a small amount of toothpaste into the stain, followed by wiping it with a soft cloth just moistened with plain water. Then reapply a good furniture wax to that section. Always test an inconspicuous spot of the furniture first, and consult your manufacturer or a furniture expert before attempting to clean furniture that is irreplaceable or extremely high in value.
To remove a wax stain, see directions for removing wax stains from wood floors, above.