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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500268

Cleaning Furniture with Painted Finishes

Dust with a water-dampened cloth. When very soiled wash with a solution of mild, non-abrasive detergent and warm water. Wring a cloth nearly dry and work on a small section at a time, then rinse with clear water. Dry the surface quickly before continuing.

Waxes and polishes are usually not needed. If waxes are used, use white creamy type on light painted items to avoid discoloration. Never use oil, oil polishes, or oil- treated cloths on painted furniture. Hand rubbing with polishes may remove painted decorations.

Although painted surfaces can be carefully touched up with matching paint, the results may look patched. Whenever possible try to remove spots and scuff marks by washing or cleaning with all-purpose household cleaners. Sanding with even a fine abrasive may change the luster of the sanded spot, especially if the finish has been antiqued. If extensive damage has been done, the piece will need repainting. A very old piece with its original finish should usually not be repainted or refinished. By doing so you remove the indications of its authenticity and thereby destroy its antique value.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with references from Wisconsin Extension bulletin, Care, Cleaning and Minor Repairs of Furniture Surfaces.

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