Finishing is the final stage in the making of fine wood furniture. It involves the process of refining or protecting a wooden surface.
Wood finishes generally enrich the wood making it beautiful to look upon. Maintaining your furniture could be really demanding and pretty much hard work because you need to be sure what product to use and which to avoid in order to maintain the longevity of the furniture.
Every cleaning product from natural cleaning agents to commercial cleaning agents which contain high levels of acid and PH can damage a furniture finish. Some of the cleaning products which damage furniture finish include:
- Caustic Strippers
- Detergents Containing Ammonia
Research has shown that a pH-neutral cleaner is the safest for all surfaces since it is neither acidic nor alkaline in nature. However, cleaning products that are acidic or alkaline in nature cannot be totally done away with but we can reduce to the lowest minimum the way it is used.
Cleaning Products that Damage Furniture Finish
Bleach is a general name for any chemical product which is used industrially and domestically to remove the color from fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching.
Bleach is not good to apply on your surfaces – this is because chlorine bleach destroys lignin ( the component of wood that hardens and strengthens its cell walls). Bleaching on wood can lead to color alteration. And on like other harmful cleaning products, the effect of bleach shows up much faster.
If there should be any need to use bleach on your wood, it should be for the purpose of stain removal. Although, this is not necessary as there are other wood healthy products you can use instead. Nevertheless, if you must use bleach, be sure to rinse off properly, because leftovers may cause tannins (yellowish-brown stain) on the wood.
- Caustic Strippers
Caustic strippers are water-based solutions with a pH of 13 to 14. It is necessary you avoid the use of caustic strippers on your surfaces because it can scorch the surface of some woods, such as old Oak and Mahogany. Caustic strippers are best for the removal of paints on surfaces not to serve as a Surface cleaner.
Vinegar is a natural chemical that can serve as a good cleaning agent but can also cause damages to your furniture due to the severity of its acidic nature. Vinegar can be applied on surfaces like glass, windows, and even the skin. However, you should avoid applying vinegar on your wood surfaces as much as you can.
Vinegar can damage furniture finishes, causing them to look dingy. Due to its acidity, it shouldn’t be considered as an antidote for removing grease stains from the furniture. Although it can be considered as a substitute for removing an old coat of wax from a surface, it dissolves in wax and so shouldn’t be used on waxed furniture.
If for any reason, you may need to remove stubborn stains with vinegar, you have to dilute it with olive oil. This lessens its acidity and makes it less harmful on your surfaces.
- Detergents Containing Ammonia
Ammonia is contained in some cleaning agents like; Window cleaners, floor polishing waxes, furniture polish, drain cleaners, toilet cleaners, bathroom cleaners, multi-surface cleaners, glass cleaners, oven cleaners, and stainless-steel cleaners.
Although ammonia is base, studies have shown its tendencies of acting as an acid in some reactions. Using ammonia on surfaces can lead to discoloration of surfaces and it can also dull the surface.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you Clean Wood Furniture Without Damaging the Finish?
- Dust The Surface First – The first step while cleaning your furniture should always be dusting. And this should be done before you apply any chemical on your furniture surface. Often, this process is underestimated in a bid to be quick about the job – ‘why dust when I can just throw a piece of wet soapy cloth over the furniture and get it over with?’.
You should know that chemicals coming in contact with dust, makes its work on the surface less effective. Moreover, this could cause you to use more cleaning chemicals than required and it could lead to damaging surfaces.
Dusting should be a process you should go through let’s say maybe once in two weeks or even more often. You don’t have to wait for your furniture to be clustered up in dust before thinking of dusting it.
- Avoid the Use of Acidic Chemical – You should as much as possible avoid acidic chemicals coming in contact with your furniture. Studies have shown that these chemicals containing acid can cause serious damages to your furniture surface overtime.
If you must use acidic chemicals on furniture, it should be for specific reasons like; trying to get rid of a really stubborn stain. While getting rid of stubborn stains, be sure to aim at the direct spot or spots affected.
- Mixing Cleaning Chemicals – Most persons would want to mix cleaning chemicals like vinegar and bleach or vinegar and baking soda to get an effective result. But this decision does more harm to your surface than good.
Mixing of chemicals whether they be high in acid and PH or not, should be a no-no. Taking off stubborn stains may be your reason for mixing chemicals but it’s best you stick to one chemical and watch. You don’t want to cause more harm to the furniture.
- Use the Right Amount of Cleaning Chemicals – Overuse of Cleaning chemicals puts your furniture at risk. When dealing with chemicals on surfaces, be sure to use the right proportion of chemicals. Always pay attention to the directions on how to use any cleaning products you have before using them.
You may also want to look out for the best cleaner for your wood. This is important if you want it to serve you much longer.
- Avoid Cleaning With Water – Many persons make the mistake of using water on their surfaces without knowing the negative effect it has on surfaces. Water may seem harmless but truth is, but it can cause irreplaceable damages on surfaces which you’ll begin to notice with time.
Water can lead to swelling of surfaces, it could cause breakouts on surfaces and it could also make your furniture rot. If at all you feel the need to use water to clean your surface for any reason, make use of a damp cloth instead.
- Make Use of Lemon oil – Lemon oil is very healthy for surfaces. Lemon oil helps protect the wood from cracking and it also sparks up the appearance of your surface. It also works as a stain removal for your surfaces. What makes lemon oil cleaner exceptional is its ability to work perfectly on unfinished wood furniture as well.
What Disinfectant is Safe to Use on Wood Furniture?
Finding the best disinfectant for wood furniture is not a different task – this is because most of these disinfectants can be homemade. Research has shown that homemade disinfectant is best for surfaces.
Studies have shown that products like citrus-based cleaners are good disinfectants for wood furniture.
You can also disinfect your furniture with a solution of warm water and soap – it’s that easy. You can as well add vinegar to your solution.
Like we stated earlier, acidic products are not good for your surfaces so be sure to add only a little portion.
Simple Ways To Repair Damaged Wood Finish
1. Restoring Faded Wood – Coconut oil can restore your wood’s natural color. Vegetable oil also works fine and it also gives your wood a darker shade. Procedure – The first step to restoring your wood’s color is by applying the coconut oil or vegetable oil over your furniture and thereafter, leave to soak in for few minutes.
2. Repairing Minor Scratches: Minor damages like scratches can be concealed with crayons or nail polish. Although nail polish will be a more effective remedy, using crayons isn’t a bad idea as well. Procedure – first you have to carefully apply nail polish or crayons to affected areas. Afterward, that is for nail polish, you will have to let the wood try up.
3. Repairing Scratches – Major scratches can be repaired by combining vinegar and canola oil. Procedure – Mix vinegar and canola oil. Afterward, apply the mixture to the damaged wood and then leave to dry. While following this procedure, make sure you add just a little amount of vinegar.
4. Removing Water Stain – Water stains develop on surfaces when water evaporates and the leftover minerals accumulate, this often leaves dull patches on the surfaces. Petroleum jelly is best for removing water stains. Procedure – Apply petroleum jelly over affected areas and leave overnight. Wipe the jelly off in the morning.
5. Repairing Holes – Most persons suggest using super glue but toothpicks are a much better remedy for repairing holes on wood. Using toothpicks kinda gives your wood a more natural look. Procedure – You begin by cutting your toothpicks into small fittable sizes. Afterward, stick them carefully into the holes. Finally, use sandpaper to smoothen your work. This process usually takes a lot of time so you need to be really patient if you must get a good result.
Knowing how to maintain your furniture is very important as it goes a long way to determine the longevity of your product. When dealing with surfaces, you have to be careful with your choice of product and method of applying cleaning products.
As we stated extensively, using the wrong cleaning chemical or the wrong application of it, can lead to major damage on your furniture surface.