You want to clean antique furniture, but you are not sure how to go about doing it? Well, it is not as simple as you do your modern everyday furniture that you can use common furniture cleaner on. It is always best to be careful when you clean antique furniture so you do not harm it in the process.
Materials needed for cleaning antique furniture
The first thing to do is to gather all of your cleaners and tools that you will need to clean the furniture. For this type of project you will need all of the tools that you would use to paint the furniture. For example, you will need a drop cloth, or something else to protect the floor. You will also need tools, such as a screwdriver, to remover the handles from the furniture. A few soft and lint free cloths or old tee shirts would be good for cleaning and drying the furniture. You may also need whatever furniture cleaner you will be using, a paint brush, and a toothbrush for those hard to reach areas, paint thinner, and wax.
Precautions to take before cleaning
Before starting any kind of cleaning procedure, you have to remove the handles and fancy decorations or fittings. You should also take this time to fix any damage, or other kind of problems with the antique furniture.
How to clean antique furniture
Because wood is a naturally made substance that is made up of numerous fibers, you have to understand that aged wood has looser fibers. This lets the wood soak up the dust, grime and moisture over the years. You should use an oil-based cleaner rather than wax because the wax just covers the dirt, it does not remove it. You may have to buy a certain kind of cleaner specially made for antique furniture.
If there is too much wax built up on the antique furniture you will have to use a paint thinner or other cleaning chemical to remove it. The wax has to be removed first because no cleaner can get through the wax to get at the wood. Also, this must be done in a room that has good ventilation or outside. You should also wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose, and special gloves. Most paint thinners and other chemicals are not good to breathe.
You just want to use a small amount of paint thinner and a very fine sandpaper or extra fine steel wool, but be very gentle so you do not remove the actual finish along with the wax. If you do remove the finish you will have to refinish the furniture instead. It may take some time, but the wax on your antique furniture will come off, and you can move on to the cleaning the grime.
How to clean antique furniture with the help of general household items: You can use dishwashing soap or furniture soap, to clean the wax from the antique furniture. Just mix the soap with some water, and use a soft cloth to test a small and inconspicuous spot first. Let it dry for a few hours, or wipe it dry with a soft cloth. Then, if it looks okay, you can start to actually clean the rest of the furniture.
Be sure not to use too much water or soap at one time so the wood does not soak up the moisture too much. Keep doing this until you are sure that the wax is completely gone from the whole piece of furniture. If you just clean in a small area at a time and use a soft dry cloth to dry each area as you go, you can avoid letting the water sit on the wood too long.
Now is the time to fix scratches or dents
After you clean and dry the antique furniture, you can fix any scratches, dents, dings, or stains in the wood. There are many types of products at the hardware or department store that can help with this step of the process. They sell furniture pens that can fix scratches, and even some that can help with stains. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and actually use a small paintbrush and some furniture stain.
How to protect the antique furniture once you’ve cleaned it
Now that you know how to clean antique furniture, you need to put something on the surface to protect what you have done. While you could use an aerosol furniture polish, it will not actually protect the furniture. It will just make it look shiny. The best thing to do to protect the finish is to apply some kind of wax. You saw how much it takes to get through the wax, so now you know how it protects the furniture. There are many kinds of wax for furniture, and even some made especially for antique furniture, but the old wax past works the best. But, you can use a wax that can be sprayed or painted on if that is what you prefer.
Once you have accomplished all of this you may be wondering, why did I do all of that instead of just painting the old furniture? Well, there are many reasons not to just paint over the finish antique furniture. Some of these reasons are because it will not take away from the value of the pieces, you can still see the wood grain, and it will retain the original color. Also, it just looks much better than painting.
Whatever your reason for cleaning your antique furniture, it will be something you can teach to others, to learn how to preserve the beauty of the antique wood furniture rather than just cover it with some paint.