How to care for antique wood furniture

Antique wooden furniture must be handled very carefully, and regarding cleaning, there are certain things you absolutely should not do. For example, you should never use regular spray furniture polish with wooden antique furniture as they contain chemicals that can damage the delicate finish.  Also, as tempting as it might be, avoid using this type of polish cleaner with any furniture that is more than 50 years old.

In this blog post we will explore some of the correct ways to care for your antique furniture when cleaning.

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Dusting antique furniture

Dust collects everywhere, and the best way to remove it is with a feather duster. Some antique dealers use a vacuum with a special soft nozzle that can be lightly brushed against the timber surfaces, which is a very effective way to remove dust. The internet is full of great advice and articles on how to clean antique furniture so don’t use anything on your precious and valuable furniture without checking first.  You don’t want to ruin anything and especially not antiques!

Wet cleaning

It is not advisable to ‘wet clean’ delicate wooden antique furniture as the moisture could affect its delicate finish.  Ask any antique dealer with an antique chest of drawers for sale and they will tell you they avoid wiping the drawers with a wet cloth.  Although it can sometimes be used as a method to remove recent stains so long as you don’t exert any pressure when wiping.

In most instances you should avoid using water as it could lift the veneer.  If you really must clean a mark off then beeswax could be the best solution. With soft, circular motions, any stain should lift. Avoid pressing hard on the surface as this is likely to leave marks.  This is important to remember when caring for solid wood furniture, whether it’s a round dining table or nightside table.

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Using a beeswax clear paste, you can gently apply the paste onto timber surfaces and buff it with a soft, dry cloth.   With valuable antique furniture you should always start at a point where a mark would not be noticeable.  This is just in case there is a reaction, and you can stop using the product immediately before it ruins a visible area on your item.

Sunlight and heat

You should never leave wooden antique furniture in direct sunlight, as this can fade the surface, especially if it is exposed on a regular basis. Avoid placing antique furniture near any heat source, or next to an A/C unit, as the extreme temperature could affect the glue on the joints and the delicate finish.

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Change in humidity

A change in the moisture level can affect your antique furniture, especially high humidity, which can cause the wood to swell, and drawers might not close properly. Most homeowners who are serious about their antiques have a de-humidifier that removes excess moisture from the air.

Insects and pests

Wooden antique furniture can be very appealing to some pests and insects. Beetles and termites are attracted to the soft grain of older wood, and the tell-tale signs of an invasion include tiny holes and small mounds of sawdust. Rodents are a danger to antique upholstery and often attack this to find nesting material. If you have rats or mice in the house, along with expensive antiques, call in your local pest control company for a permanent solution.

Great care must always be used when cleaning wooden antique furniture.  Avoid anything that might contain chemicals as this could destroy an item by causing irreparable damage. The golden rule is; if in doubt, do not use it.  It’s better to be safe than sorry and to do some research beforehand or test on an inconspicuous area.

This is a collaborative post
Images sourced from Canva

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