Polished wood is one of the most common surfaces available in furniture. Have you invested in a chic wood furniture set or was it a piece passed down to you from your parents and you do not want it to look like it was passed down? Grace Kintu, the proprietor of Dreams house cleaning business in Wakiso District, says just like any other furniture, varnished furniture needs regular care to look good, and sometimes you may want to give it special care when it starts looking tired and dull. Over time, the buildup of dirt, and oil, can make it look dull. Good cleaning will not only beautify the wood, but help extend the life of your favourite furniture.

Kintu says home owners always seek their services when they want their varnished tables, chairs and pieces of furniture given a new lease of life. “I remember there is a client who showed me a badly damaged oak cabinet that he never wanted to get rid of but, rather transform by reviving its shine. So we had to do some lime finishes on it by filling and smoothening any holes before polishing to match the colour.”

Kintu says cleaning wooden furniture is uncomplicated. You just have to get your vacuum cleaner and a bucket that will hold enough water. Find some soft cloth rags that are clean, making sure they have not been used with other cleaning products. This, she says, may damage the wood.

“To remove gumminess or light soil, wipe with a moist cloth. Then immediately rub with a dry cloth. Test in an inconspicuous spot before you do this because you do not want to damage the furniture, and never leave a moist cloth sitting on the varnished surface,” she cautions.

She adds that you can as well use vinegar to clean your varnished furniture. Take off any removable, non-wood pieces from your vanished furniture, such as non-structural hardware and cushions. Vacuum your furniture or dust it with a cloth on the surface and in any gaps.

The cleaning cloth
You can use white vinegar diluted in water for cleaning, or white vinegar mixed with olive oil for a clean and polish. Make sure your rag is soft and moist (not dripping), and dry the furniture with a clean cloth afterwards.

Oscar Okello, a carpenter at wood art carpentry workshop in Kasubi, a Kampala suburb, recommends that from time to time, you might have to clean your varnished wood furniture more thoroughly to restore its appearance and shine and this also works well on used furniture purchases.

To protect varnished wood, apply a coat of paste wax. Okello says this can be bought in hardware shops. “You do not need to do this very often. While applying wax helps protect from moisture and dust, never do this more than once a year to prevent wax buildup on the surface of your furniture.”

Build up
Okello however, explains that if there is wax buildup on your varnished furniture, remove it with a cloth moist with mineral spirits, these are available in some furniture shops.

He advises that all label directions are followed when using cleaning reagents. Do not use near any flame. Protect your skin by wearing rubber gloves and wash the gloves in hot soapy water before storing dry rags to evaporate the reagents before disposal.
Okello adds that some varnished wooden furniture can be washed if they are badly stained.

However, first, test a small part of the soiled area. If the surface streaks or changes colour, do not wash. If it is safe to proceed, use a solution of mild detergent and lukewarm water. With a clean rag or soft cloth wash, rinse and dry only a small area at that instance.

He explains that most furniture tends to have hardware attached or is used as a countertop for household objects. To make this job easier, you will have to free up access to the wood. So you have to unscrew and remove hardware. If you think there is a small chance you will not be able to get the hardware back on, skip it until you find a professional to help you do the job.
Okello says wooden furniture owners ought to protect it from water and other liquids, such as alcohol, food, or cosmetics.

Cleaning varnished furniture with hardware on it

Before cleaning any varnished furniture, you have to take off any removable, nonwood pieces from your furniture, such as non-structural hardware and cushions.

Vacuum your furniture or dust it with a cloth on the surface and in any cracks.
Make sure the cloth going to use is soft and moist (not dripping), and buff the furniture dry with a clean cloth afterwards. Remove hardware and cushions. Pull the furniture away from the wall, if applicable.

Set aside any cushions, pillows, and other such objects from the surface of the furniture. Take off any hardware you will be able to put back on, such as screws or decorative knobs. However, do not take off any hardware that is holding the furniture together.

Before you fix the hardware back to the varnished furniture, it advisable that you refurbish it. Once it is detached from the furniture, this will allow you to thoroughly clean the hardware and remove any caked on dirt. If your hardware has a lot of tarnish or buildup, soak the hardware in cleaning solution.

After the hardware has soaked for a while, gently brush the hardware with a soft brush to carefully remove the buildup. Repeat the cleaning process until you reach the desired cleanliness and the hardware no longer feels sticky, tacky or greasy.