How to Safely Clean Old Wood Furniture

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Cleaning old wood furniture is one thing - safely cleaning old wood furniture and preserving its natural features is something else entirely. Safely clean old wooden furniture with help from an experienced interior design professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Antique Furniture Care
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Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Jane Brown, from Jane Brown Interiors and JaneBrownDesigns.com, and I’m here at my favorite antique store in New York, Furnish Green, on Broadway and 31st. And today, I’m excited to bring you a tip on how to clean an antique piece of furniture using a really really old-fashioned method, and it’s something that is so great because it’s nontoxic, it’s lemon oil, and that’s all it is, and it’s just really wonderful, especially for people who have, you know, allergies and conditions and are not wanting any chemicals or anything too toxic in their home. So, this is a really old-fashion, you know, as old as my grandma, or before, method of cleaning great antique wood. So, it’s a really simple process, and we start with the lemon oil, which you can pick up from any hardware store. And then, an old sock – and I know you probably have one of these laying around, because if it’s anything like my dryer, I’m always, you know, I’ve always got that single sock somewhere. So, an old sock, and why we use an old sock is so that we can feel the wood through the sock. So, we get the lemon oil, and just put a gentle coating of lemon oil on the piece. And then, we slip our hand in the sock. And, why I like to use a sock is so that I can feel the grain of the wood through the sock. So, we need to rub the oil. Now, it’s really important to follow the grain of the wood, because wood is such a – you know, it’s a beautiful texture and it’s organic and it breathes and it’s you know – so, we want to clean following the grain of the wood. Along with any time that you’re cleaning wood, you always want to follow the grain. So, we won’t do any circular motions because that would compromise the integrity of the wood, and, you know, for a very expensive piece of antique furniture that could, in fact, damage the piece. So, it’s really important always to go along the grain of the wood because, you know, it still is a very porous and, you know, almost living piece. So then, the lemon oil, which incidentally smells divine, we’re rubbing along and cleaning that off until we get to the point where we’ve removed enough of the debris and the dirt from the piece. We just keep doing that, and that’s all we do because this is a gentle method of cleaning an antique piece. And then, once we finish that and we’re happy with it, we’ve removed enough of the excess on the piece, we just do a final coating of the lemon oil, and we get our sock again, and then we just lightly move the lemon oil over the piece. This smells fantastic too, by the way, and I love that it’s just, there’s no chemicals at all in this really ancient cleaning solution. People have been cleaning with lemon oil for way over 100 years. This is looking so shiny – I don’t know if you can see that on camera, but it’s looking really beautiful. And then, we leave that for two days for the oil to absorb and just really take hold in the wood. And then, that is it. How easy is that? So, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.

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