How “Wood” You Clean Up?

Properly maintaining the wood furnishings in your home can be a daunting task. The techniques vary from polished wood to oiled wood and unfinished wood. Our domestic diva Sara Lynn Cauchon gives us tips on how to properly maintain the wood surfaces in our home.



When you're cleaning anything, the first thing you should be doing is removing any dust and debris. For wood floors, a simple sweep will do but for wood furniture, try a soft paintbrush. It's soft enough that it won't scratch your surface, but stiff enough to remove any dust.

This is also great for dusting your old radiators and vertical blinds. If you're dealing with rattan, bamboo or wicker the easiest thing is to use the brush attachment on your vacuum.


To hide a small scratch in a piece of wood furniture or a floor, you can either buy wood retouching sticks which are available in a variety of colours OR if you're in a pinch, you can actually use a crayon right out of your child's crayon box.

Find the colour that matches most closely and fill in the scratch. Then buff it with a soft cloth like the rag I created by cutting a pair of old flannel pajamas.

Cleaning and Polishing

Two important rules for cleaning...

First: Always wear cotton gloves. If you really want your pieces to look pristine, wear cotton gloves while cleaning so you don't leave any fingerprints behind.

Second: Know what kind of wood you're working with. Wood that is varnished should be treated differently than unvarnished wood.

For varnished or sealed wood, add a few drops of lemon oil into a 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and finish by wiping once more using a dry soft cotton cloth.

For unvarnished wood, there are two options:

Steep two tea bags and then wipe down your piece. The tea is slightly acidic so it will break down dirt and leave a nice finish.

Or, mix two teaspoons each of olive oil and lemon juice and apply a small amount to a soft cotton cloth. Wring the cloth to spread the mixture further into the material and apply to the furniture using wide strokes. This helps distribute the oil evenly.


If you really want to see your wood shine, buff it with a layer of cornstarch. Just sprinkle it on and then work it in a circular motion until you can see your reflection.


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