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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500265
06/24/03

Cleaning Oil Finish Wood Furniture



To clean oiled wood, use a solution of 1 cup boiled linseed oil, 1 cup turpentine, and 1/3 cup white vinegar. Turpentine is flammable so do not use around flame or spark; do not get on skin; do not breathe fumes. Wipe the surface with a soft cloth that has been dipped in the cleaning solution. Never pour the solution directly onto the wood. Let the solution stand for a few minutes to loosen the soil; then wipe off the excess. All excess oil must be removed or it will attract dust and get sticky. To finish, rub with the grain.

DO NOT USE wax or furniture polish on an oil finish.

Re-oil yearly with boiled linseed oil, tung oil, or a product recommended by the manufacturer. These oils harden when exposed to air and seal the wood. Never use non-drying oils like mineral oil for wood finishes for furniture. Avoid using an oil dressing too often or too liberally as it will cause a hardened oil build-up. If this happens, use mineral spirits (paint thinner) to dissolve the residue.

CAUTION: When using mineral spirits or other solvents, follow all label directions and warning. They are flammable, so don't use near flame or spark or pilot light, and don't smoke. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands, and dispose of them afterward or wash with hot suds and let them air dry thoroughly before storing. Work in well-ventilated room and avoid breathing fumes. Air-dry cloths used to evaporate solvent before disposing.

Reference

This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus with references from the North Dakota Extension bulletin Surface vs Stain Care of Kitchens.

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