How to Clean & Restore an Old Rustic Wooden Box

Rustic wood furniture is rough in appearance, still possessing that natural unprocessed look. This type of furniture is popular with homeowners who enjoy a traditional home design such as the incorporation of log cabin style furniture. Typically, rustic wood furniture isn't treated with preserving chemicals, which makes the maintenance and care of this furniture critical for it to last. A few rules of thumb should be followed when cleaning and restoring rustic wood pieces.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags

  • Water

  • Oil or wax based polish

  • Razor blade

  • Wood refinisher

  • Toothpaste

  • Baking soda

  • Clear wood finish

Step 1

Dry the box immediately to avoid any water damage. Gently blot up the water with an absorbent towel, then place the box in a warm, dry area with adequate air circulation until any water spots are no longer visible. A good air temperature for the area is about 75 degrees.

Step 2

Remove any white spots that may have developed from excessive heat. Mix equal amounts of toothpaste and baking soda together and place a teaspoon of the solution onto a damp buffing cloth, then rub it on the affected area thoroughly. Use another damp cloth to buff the area until the solution residue is no longer visible.

Step 3

Apply a wood refinisher to any burnt or scorched areas to repair them. Scrape the burnt wood off with a small razor blade or a slim utility knife, then apply a clear finish to the wood until the affected area matches the rest of the box.

Step 4

Spray furniture polish onto a rag, then wipe the entire wooden surface of the box down gently. Ensure that all dust is removed. Repeat this process weekly, covering every square inch of the box for the best results.


You can use oil- or wax-based polishing liquid or spray. Just make sure that you use the same kind every time, as furniture can become dingy looking if you mix oil and wax polishes.

Keep the box out of direct sunlight and in a room with a constant temperature. High humidity will cause your wood to swell, and extreme dry or hot climates can cause the wood to warp or crack.


Never use a dry rag to dust or clean your rustic wood. This can cause scratching and ruin the wood finish.

References & Resources