How To Preserve And Clean Your Antique Wood Furniture

Posted on: 11 June 2015

The surface wear patterns on antique wood furniture help show its history of use. If you are fortunate enough to own a piece of antique furniture, you should protect the original finish and history of your furniture. Here are some tips to keep your furniture safe in the right environment and to care for its wood finish.

Clean and Protect Your Antique Wood Furniture

As an owner of antique furniture, it is your responsibility to keep the furniture surface clean and protected. You can use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down the surface of your wood furniture to remove any dirt and dust. Then, you will need to polish the wood to seal and protect it. 

To polish the wood, do not  use any type of aerosol, oil, or alcohol-based polishes. Aerosol and alcohol-based polishes will leave a build-up on the wood that can ruin its antique patina and the oil in polishes will damage the wood and discolor the finish. The best type of polish to use is paste wax, which will leave a thin protective layer of wax on your furniture, protecting it from moisture and dust.

When you apply paste wax, dip cheesecloth fabric into the wax, applying a small amount on the cloth. Then, rub it over the surface of the wood in a circular pattern. You don't want to apply a too-thick layer because the wax will not harden and end up being buffed off later, wasting the wax. 

Rub the wax in a thin, even layer over the surface of the wood, then allow the wax solvents to evaporate before you buff the wax. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the paste wax package to allow enough time for the solvents to evaporate. Buff the wax until your furniture's surface has a polished look.

To dust your furniture, don't use a feather duster because the feathers can scratch the waxed surface of your antique furniture. Moisten a soft cloth and gently wipe it over the surface of the wood, removing all dust. You don't want to use a dry cloth because this can also scratch the surface of your furniture, removing the protective wax layer.

Keep Your Home's Environment Antique-Friendly

When your antique furniture is all waxed and cleaned, you will need to find the right place for your furniture piece to sit. Consider the humidity, temperature, and the proximity of any windows around the piece's location. These three factors can easily affect and damage antique furniture. 

A too-dry environment can cause the antique wood to crack and split. Be aware of your home's heating because some heating systems, such as forced air and wood burning stoves, can dry out antique wood during the winter. It is a good idea to keep your home's humidity level between 55 and 65 percent in summer and 35 to 45 percent in winter. But, don't allow your home to become too humid because this can cause mold to grow on your antique wood furniture's surface and promote insect infestations. 

You may want to buy a hygrometer to gauge your home's humidity level so you can keep your antique furniture preserved. Then, you can use a humidifier or dehumidifier in your home to regulate the humidity when necessary.

Make sure to keep the temperature in your home between 65 and 70 degrees F in winter and between 70 and 75 degrees F in the summer. Then, don't display your antique furniture in front of a window where the sun's UV rays can damage the wood.

Use these tips to clean and preserve your antique wood furniture. You can also click here for more info on antique furniture.

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