It’s fairly obvious when a favorite piece of wood furniture needs attention. Food stains and water marks blemish a handsome table; after years of faithful applications, spray-on polishes leave a dark, sticky film on sideboards and chairs.
Cleaning fine wood furniture can be downright dangerous to the furniture’s finish if the wrong methods are used. The key is to start with the gentlest cleansers, working up to stronger solutions as necessary, and to test on discreet areas, such as the inside of a table leg, before tackling large expanses.
First, try a simple cleanser: Dampen a cotton swab with water, add a drop of dish-washing liquid, and test. If the finish survives, make a solution of water and detergent, and wipe the entire piece. Don’t saturate the wood; keep the sponge barely damp, and rinse often. The results can be dramatic. you can also use mineral spirits, a clean cloth, and confident, circular strokes to remove decades of grime.
Wood that remains grubby-looking after the mineral-spirits treatment needs some degree of refinishing. Try rubbing denatured alcohol on a small, hidden area. If the finish does not dissolve, it’s oil, lacquer, polyurethane, or varnish, all of which require professional treatment. If it does dissolve, the finish is shellac. The top layers should be removed and replaced with more of the same, a task that may also call for a professional.
Once it’s been cleaned — by whatever method — wood must be protected. Use wood finishes with wax, applied swiftly and liberally with cheesecloth. Before waxing, lightly rub the wood with fine steel wool, which gently roughs up the surface so that the wax can go on evenly.
For most furniture, use beeswax. We recommend dusting wood furniture with a soft cloth, never a feather duster.
In 1988 my parents Chris and Joan Dyer bought a settee from you. They previously lived round the corner in Bolton-le-Sands on Marefield Road, if you have any staff from that time – they knew you well.
I remember the day it arrived at our then new family home ( Bambers Walk, Wesham, Preston, PR4 3DG – you may still have the record).
An exciting delivery for children aged 7, 6 and 3 to bounce around on for the first time (although we were strictly forbidden!!).
A lot has happened since then. They no longer have the couch – I do. Although I’m 34 now! And what I can’t believe is that it still looks better than other cheaper couches long since bought and sagged since. It seems I had the best deal with the hand me down. It has seen me through many twists and turns of life. It’s been a spare bed, a film buddy and a friend to so many of my friends and family over the years. I would have been lost without it.
So I just wanted to say thank you.
Now it’s my turn to finally get on the property ladder for the first time and I’ve bought my own place – an apartment. The couch is coming with me, until I can find a more contemporary design to match my decor… Although I may just get it recovered as it really does still look good as new.
Although it’s definitely time for a new mattress. And out of the blue I saw your competition. It made me smile. It’s definitely time for some new furniture once I’ve saved up!!
I bet you rarely find out what happened to your furniture and the lives it has shared, so I thought I’d share the story of just one.