State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500263
Antique Wood Furniture--Care and Cleaning
For antiques with the original finish.
Avoid extremes of humidity and temperature, which accelerate cracking
and checking of finish, and loosen joints and veneer. Do not set
beverage glasses, vases of flowers, etc. on surfaces without coaster or
Vacuum or dust with a soft cloth. Occasionally use a cloth just barely
dampened with solvent-based cleaning wax to wipe the surface to pick up
more dust, and immediately wipe with a dry cloth or soft paper towel.
Do not use spray waxes and polishes on surfaces as they will leave a
higher gloss and some silicone which may make future refinishing more
Occasionally wax with paste (carnauba) wax. Rub on a very light coat
with a soft cloth with the grain of the wood (or put a lump of wax
inside a few layers of folded cheesecloth and rub onto wood thus
preventing heavy smears); then buff at once with soft cloth, turning
often, until wax coating is hard. (Old cotton tee-shirts are good.) Be
sure all wax is completely buffed until hard to avoid smears and
streaks. Here a small electric polisher is a great "arm-saver" on all
smooth surfaces; wipe surface gently with clean soft cloth after
applying wax to remove any loosened soil and then let set several
minutes (following wax label directions) before power buffing. An
occasional re-buffing will renew the soft gloss. Paste wax helps cover
small cracks and checks in old finishes, and can easily be removed with
solvent when desired.
NOTE: Antiques that have been
refinished should be treated according to
type of finish as described in other sections. Since old finishes may
be affected by cleaning treatments, always test the first time on any
inconspicuous place on furniture to be sure it is compatible with
finish. Generally, the above treatments are satisfactory.
This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus.
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status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and
June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This
information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial
products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or
bias against those not mentioned.
information.was reviewed as
of June 2008. For more information about the contents please
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