How to Remove Dirt Build Up from Wooden Furniture

wood-furniture

Warisha asked: “How do I remove sticky dirt from my wooden chairs? Our dining chairs have dark wooden polish on them, but they also have a thick layer of dirt. How can i get rid of that dirt without damaging the original polish and get the shine back on them? Please kindly recommend some home remedy for this problem.

Dirt and grime can build up on wood furniture over time masking its true beauty. While frequent cleanings will help to avoid this situation, when the build-up is no longer removable with normal cleaning, it will require more powerful solutions to break it loose. Three simple ingredients can break through the dirt and help your pieces return to their original shine.

Removing Dirt Build Up

*This method is only for wood furniture that is not painted as it will damage and/or remove the paint.

You Will Need:

  • Boiled linseed oil (do NOT use raw linseed oil)
  • Turpentine
  • White vinegar
  • Soft cloths
  • Old toothbrush
  • Drop cloth, cardboard or other ground covering
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small disposable container
  • Paint stir stick
  • Face mask (optional)
  • Paper towels
  • Vacuum with attachments

Steps to Remove the Dirt Build Up:

  1. Start by selecting a work area that is very well ventilated. Working outdoors is best as this solution produces a strong smell that you don’t want lingering in your home.
  2. Prepare the work area by covering the ground with a protective covering such as a drop cloth, large sheets of cardboard, etc. Gather rubber gloves and a mask for yourself.
  3. Bring the wooden piece outdoors and begin by wiping it down with the paper towels to remove as much of the grime as possible. After you have wiped it off, use the vacuum with the brush attachment to gently brush dirt from the crevices and corners.
  4. Next, mix together equal parts of the linseed oil, turpentine and white vinegar.
  5. Moisten the soft cloths lightly with the solution and gently wipe the dirt and grime off of the wood surface. As you are cleaning, wipe the liquid with the grain of the wood and take caution not to soak the wood.
  6. Continue cleaning with the cloths just until the dirt is gone, do not scrub too much or it may damage the finish.
  7. For corners, designs, etc., dip the old toothbrush into the solution and gently work it into the grooves. Follow the grain as much as possible just as before. Wipe away with a clean cloth.
  8. When no more dirt is showing on the cloths, discontinue any further applications. There is no need to rinse the wood.
  9. Allow the piece to dry completely.
  10. When the piece is completely dry, buff with a clean cloth to restore the shine.
  11. Dispose of any remaining cleaner as well as any cloths with cleaner on them using appropriate methods. They can automatically combust and start a fire, so be sure to dispose of them promptly and properly.

Removing Dirt Build Up Without Chemicals

 

You Will Need:

  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Soft cloths
  • Old toothbrush
  • Drop cloth, cardboard or other ground covering
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Small container
  • Paper towels
  • Vacuum with attachments

Steps to Remove the Dirt Build Up:

  1. Start by selecting a work area that has plenty of room to easily maneuver around your piece. Working outdoors or in the garage is often best.
  2. Prepare the work area by covering the ground with a protective covering such as a drop cloth, large sheets of cardboard, etc.
  3. Bring the wooden piece outdoors and begin by wiping the entire piece down with the paper cloths to remove as much of the grime as possible. After you have wiped it off, use the vacuum with the brush attachment to gently brush dirt from the crevices and corners.
  4. Next, mix together two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.
  5. Moisten the soft cloths lightly with the solution and gently wipe the dirt and grime off of the wood surface. As you are cleaning, wipe the liquid with the grain of the wood and take caution not to soak the wood.
  6. Continue cleaning with the cloths just until the dirt is gone, do not scrub too much or it may damage the finish.
  7. For corners, designs, etc., dip the old toothbrush into the solution and gently work it into the grooves. Follow the grain as much as possible just as before. Wipe away with a clean cloth.
  8. When all dirt is removed, wipe down the entire piece with a clean, lint-free cloth.
  9. Allow the piece to dry completely.
  10. When the piece is completely dry, buff with a clean cloth to restore the shine.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • As with any cleaning solution, it is best to apply it to a small hidden area first to test for any affects on the finish.
  • If the piece you are cleaning is an antique or a collectible, check with a professional prior to cleaning to ensure that the cleaning method does not affect the value of the piece.
  • A popular cleaning product for wood furniture is Murphy’s Oil Soap and is safe to use on all wood pieces. It is readily available at most department stores and home improvement stores. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

 

Comments

  1. Kaye says:

    I have a large heavy coffee table and side table. I got sick now, three years later; they are in terrible shape. There is something on them that is maybe a spill; it is white-looking and then there is a smear. I don’t even want to talk about the nicks and scratches and what looks like a water spill that took the finish off. Last but not least, one of the home health ladies sat nail polish remover on the side table!

    I have tried the olive oil and lemon juice, but it didn’t help. Taking them outside is not an option. They were very expensive and beautiful.

    Any help with any one of these problems will be much appreciated. They are Vineyard Furniture with intricate wood grain so I would have to have a professional refinish them and that is not an option either.

  2. Victoria says:

    Don’t trust anyone with your furniture! Mine went under water and the experienced person who was to repair and refinish several pieces let his helper do the work and this guy sanded my antiques down too much. That just ruined them as far as I’m concerned. It looks like new furniture. Now, it’s too late and I’m sorry as hell that I didn’t watch them do the work. I’m still learning the hard way at my age.
    I’m going to try the equal parts of linseed oil, turpentine and vinegar to clean other furniture that went under water and attempt to redo these pieces myself.

  3. Annette says:

    What home remedy will make my furniture shine?

  4. Dorothie says:

    Thanks for the nice ideas.

  5. Melanie says:

    Annette,
    The olive oil and lemon solution will make your furniture shine, but is more of a cleaner. Replace the lemon juice with white vinegar for the oil to penetrate the wood more deeply (and increase the shine potential). You could also use mineral oil in place of olive oil.
    Another option is a 2:5 oz mix of beeswax and turpentine.

    Source: DIY Network – Polishing Wood Furniture
    Source: wikiHow – How to Make Furniture Polish Using Olive Oil
    Source: TLC Home – Refinishing Wood Furniture with Olive Oil

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