This will be the start of a series of posts concerning furniture care. Over the years we have seen a lot of furniture damage that could have been avoided by following some simple guidelines. So I thought I would start with what not to do to your furniture.
First on my list of things to avoid — air fresheners. In the last two weeks alone, we have had three tables in the shop because of damage from air fresheners. The liquid or gel type air fresheners all contain solvents that are harmful to any furniture finish. The solvents contained in most of these products will remove (yes, remove) the finish from furniture, if left in contact for even a short period of time. Most have a warning somewhere advising you not to put them on wood furniture. But who reads those things anyway? Keep them far away from your furniture.
Nail polish remover is another culprit that we see evidence of regularly. Think about it, nail polish is a finish. So, naturally that makes nail polish remover a finish remover. Keep an eye on those teenager girls and do your nails in the bath over the sink. Nail polish remover won’t harm porcelain!
Cleaning products are not needed on wood furniture. You don’t have to feed the wood. There I said it. Most all retail cleaning products will contain some type of solvent that is not good for your furniture finish. Your furniture, whether new or restored, has a finish on the wood for two reasons. One obvious reason is to beautify the furniture; the second is to protect the wood. In normal use a routine dusting is all that is needed. We use the electro-static dusting cloths which are dry with no added cleansers. If you should have something spill and dry on the finish you can dampen the spill with water or lemon oil. Follow that with a dry cloth.
Aerosol polishing products should be avoided. Many use propane as the pressurizing agent and many contain silicon oil. Over time these will damage the finish and at times make restoring the finish even more difficult. If you feel the need to polish, paste wax is the very best thing you can use. It is a lot of work, hence the popularity of the retail products.
Alcohol is a solvent for some furniture finishes, mostly older finishes on some antiques. Things containing alcohol that spill on your furniture should be wiped up immediately to avoid any damage.
You should never use any type of abrasive to clean your furniture. Abrasives are meant to scratch. Using them on the finish surface is scratching the finish, no matter how mild. Included in the list of abrasives are the old home remedies of toothpaste, cigarette ashes, and paper sacks.
In addition to the things above that will cause immediate and severe damage, here are a few more things you can do to preserve your fine furniture. Don’t place furniture where air conditioning and heating vents blow directly on the piece. Hot and cold, wet and dry, climate changes can be damaging to wood furniture. Avoid having furniture in direct sunlight. The UV rays can fade the finish as well as damage the wood fibers. Avoid excessive moisture. Household furniture finishes are not intended to be placed outdoors, even under cover. Use hot pads, table clothes, placemats, and coasters when possible. Hot items are especially likely to damage a table top. Avoid hot pizza boxes at all costs!
We will post more in the future about furniture care. Keep checking back.