Cleaning and Nourishing Furniture

aniques sydney furniture restoration

Here are few tips and tricks I have learnt over the years to clean second
hand furniture and give it a new lease on life. All you need are the right products, cleaning aids, time and elbow grease!

Most items for cleaning are relatively inexpensive. You will need a bucket, rubber gloves, rags, a short bristle scrubbing brush, micro fibre cloth, methylated spirits, Windex(for some reason it must be windex not a substitute) washing soda crystals and an old towel. All of these items are available at any large supermarket.

The furniture can be divided into two categories for cleaning purposes. The first one is raw furniture without any surface products and those with opaque painted surfaces. The second is clear surfaced furniture with applied waxes, shellac, estapol, lacquer, etc. With the exception of old veneer furniture with clear surfaces, this is not a guide to cleaning contemporary furniture especially furniture made from MDF.


If its raw or painted with old opaque paint and very dirty ie out of a shed, garage, etc the best way to clean it is to take it outside. This type of cleaning must be done in the shade, on cool day preferably, other wise the furniture might warp and twist when drying. Definately do not place furniture in direct sunlight for fear of it becoming sun damaged. Only do this with solid wood furniture not chipboard, veneered or plywood furniture. after taking the furniture outside get a bucket and half fill with warm water and put in washing soda crystals. Use gloves if needed and grab the brush and lightly or heavily scrub the furniture until the dirt comes off!! you can rinse the furniture from the hose as needed and just keep repeating the scrubbing process as needed. This process will also remove old oils and grease to some extent. Rinse thouroughly with the hose until all residues are gone then towel off your piece and leave to dry completely in the shade. Mission accomplished!

The second type of cleaning is for furniture with applied waxes and oils but otherwise raw. Wear gloves if preferred and grab a rag and metho. Wet the rag with metho and start cleaning off the wax and oils, grab more rags as the one you are using becomes clogged. Just keep going until its clean the wipe over with a clean dry rag to finish.

Next is furniture with a clear finish. Try either metho or windex, test with both in an unobtrusive spot first. Use whichever works best to clean your furniture. We find the Windex works well on old 70's veneer furniture with the microfibre cloth like Parker and Chiswell pieces, but make sure it is wiped off pretty quickly or it can eat into the finish! Always wipe furniture with a clean rag to finish.

Next time how to nourish your furniture once its clean

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