Today’s post is sponsored by the maker of Orange Glo™ cleaning products. I received compensation and/or a free sample for this review but the opinions are 100% my own.
I can’t believe that during my almost 8 years of blogging, I have never shared my tricks and tips for cleaning and refinishing wood furniture. While I talk a lot about painted furniture here on the blog, you guys may be surprised to know that I have a love of natural finish wood furniture as well as painted. I have stripped, refinished and restored many furniture pieces and wood finishes over the years and today, I have pulled together my tips for cleaning, removing stains/nicks and tips for refinishing wood furniture
Cleaning and Maintaining Wood Finishes
As much as I love beautiful wood furniture, regular cleaning and maintenance are a necessity. I am very careful to only use gentle products on my wood furniture that do not contain wax, alcohol or water that can build-up or damage the finish. After I started refinishing furniture years ago, I better understood the damage these products and chemicals can do over time to a beautiful piece of furniture.
My parents are avid woodworkers and built this library card file years ago for me. It was designed based on an old library card file I had seen and it has a natural tung oil rubbed finish.
The level of detail my parents put into this special piece is absolutely amazing! Look at how they dovetailed the sides of each drawer.
I try and clean and polish all my wood furniture at least once a month using Orange Glo™ Wood Furniture 2-in-1 Clean and Polish, which does not contain any waxes, alcohol or water that can build up or damage a finish. I have used Orange Glo™ 2-in-1 Clean and Polish for years because it’s not like a typical furniture cleaner/polisher, it’s more like a conditioner and revitalizer of wood.
I haven’t cleaned and polished my card file for two months and you can see below just how pieces like this can dry out, discolor and lose their shine.
I spray a small amount of Orange Glo™ 2-in 1 Clean and Polish on a flour sack towel or cloth diaper and it instantly cleans, removes dirt, conditions the wood and restores its appearance.
Orange Glo™ 2-in-1 Clean and Polish is made with Valencia orange oil, which is a gentle natural cleanser and wood conditioner made from the natural oils found in the peels of oranges. If you’ve never tried it before, it smells so amazing and does in fact smell like oranges.
After I am done cleaning and polishing my furniture looks as beautiful as when I first refinished them. As you can see below, the piece is really revived and instantly back to its original look.
Orange Glo™ 2-in-1 Clean and Polish is not greasy in any way and while it restores shine, it’s more like a glow, rather than oily, greasy or a slick polish. You can see below the instant difference.
For furniture pieces that are in bad shape and haven’t been cleaned and polished for a long time, you can wipe on a thicker layer of Orange Glo™ 2-in-1 Clean and Polish and let it sit for five minutes and then wipe it dry. That will pull out dirt, grime and restore the appearance.
By the way, there is also an Orange Glo™ Everyday Cleaner for Hardwood & Laminate Floors and an Orange Glo™ 4-in-1 Monthly Polish for Hardwood Floors that I have used for years and love. My whole home smells like fresh oranges and the floors are beautiful!
Removing Stains, Wax Build-Up and Nicks on Wood Furniture
Wax build-up is another common problem with wood furniture and ironically, I recently had a wax build-up issue on my own front door. Last summer, we applied a penetrating stain product that we did not realize had wax in it. We also applied it when it was over 105 degrees (I should have known better) and well, between the wax and the heat, I ended up with a front door with a dull uneven appearance and the wax hardened.
You can see how bad it looked.
For this severe wax build-up issue, I did a very light layer of sanding with the finest grit sanding sponge I could find. This helps to loosen and take the edge off of the wax. Sanding sponges are so much easier to work with than traditional sand paper.
Here is a close up of the door after I lightly sanded it.
I then sprayed a heavy layer of Orange Glo™ 2-in-1 Clean and Polish onto a soft cloth and then wiped it on the whole door leaving a thicker layer than if I was just polishing it. I wanted the product to sit for about five minutes to help lift the build-up.
Even as I began applying the Orange Glo™ 2-in-1 Clean and Polish, I could see an instant improvement!
The wax build-up came off and so did a lot of dirt and grime. The transformation is so amazing!
Nicks, scratches and gashes in wood can be another common issue and I have a great trick for that as well.
Did you happen to notice to big nick/gash on my front door on my before picture?
For deep nicks like this that cannot be sanded, I use a penetrating stain one shade darker than the wood. The reason I do this is by the time I wipe the penetrating stain and the nick dries, it’s always about one shade lighter than the wood. So, I started going one shade darker on my penetrating stain and it always works like a charm!
I apply a penetrating stain with a water color brush and dab it on and let it sit about 3 minutes. I then very lightly dab the area and blend. Just enough to remove the excess but without removing the stain itself.
For stains on my wood finished furniture, I mix equal parts of baking soda to water to create a paste and gently rub in a circular motion with a soft cloth to remove the stain. For water rings, I use salt with just a couple drops of water to make a paste and gently rub to remove and it works great!
Tips for Refinishing Wood Furniture
I have several vintage furniture pieces around my home that I stripped and removed layers and layers of old shellac or varnish and kept the wood natural by just using a tung oil rub finish, which is a natural sealant.
I purchased this vintage wardrobe at an estate auction and the finish was horrible. It was the thickest shellac I have ever seen and the finish was crackled and in bad shape.
The great news is that I knew with all those layers of shellac, the wood was preserved and would be beautiful natural. I don’t ever hesitate to buy these pieces because refinishing them is always worth the beauty!
I was really drawn to art deco design, carved wood and mix of directional wood grain. This was never a fancy/well-made piece but I thought it was interesting and fun.
When I refinish furniture, depending on how thick the finish is, I usually start with a chemical stripper to begin removing the old shellac but when I got down to the removing the final layer of shellac, I switch to using denatured alcohol, which is less harsh than a chemical stripper.
When I finally get to the wood and the grain starts to raise, I then switched to sanding with the fine grit sanding paper or sanding sponge, which is a life saver!
My best tip for you is the closer you get to the wood, the gentler the products and techniques you will want to use to preserve and prevent damaging the wood.
If a piece that I am refinishing only has a light top coat finish to remove, I will not use any chemicals at all and just sand with a fine grit paper. I do this with a small hand sander. A small hand sander with fine grit paper is the most important tool you could use when removing a finish. It takes a little longer than a chemical stripper but it’s worth it because you won’t run the risk of damaging the wood.
There are all kinds of options for sealing a piece of furniture including polyurethane and other top coats. However, I prefer a simple and natural finish of tung oil, which I apply in thin layers and very light sanding in between each layer.
I hope my guide today will help you when it comes to cleaning, removing stains and nicks and refinishing. A big thank you today to the makers of Orange Glo™ for partnering up with me on today’s post and you can find all Orange Glo™ products at your local Walmart or Home Depot store. Orange Glo™ products are also available to purchase on Walmart.com or HomeDepot.com.
If you have any questions regarding anything I haven’t covered or a piece of furniture that you need to repair or refinish, you can leave your questions in the comment section below and I will be glad to help you!
Thanks for stopping by today!