How to Take Care of Antique Wooden Furniture?

Vintage woodwork certainly has its charm, if not already evident in the lucrative antique trading market. Whether it’s for the workmanship, the history, or the kind of wood, antique wooden furniture needs special care to maintain its quality and preserve its character. If you’re unsure whether to take the DIY approach or you need to call in house cleaning services San Antonio, then read on to find out more.


Knowing the condition of your wooden furniture is important before you perform any cleaning, polishing, or restoration techniques. The kind of techniques you will use also depend on your willingness to retain its value. If you are looking at eventually selling it in the antique market, or even having it appraised for auction, then best to keep it in its current condition with mild cleaning.

Of course, the best way to assess the condition of your antique wooden furniture would be to bring it to experts. But if you can manage it, check first the kind of finish used on the wood so you can identify what cleaning agents can be used without damaging it. Do test spotting in an inconspicuous space to find out:

  • Denatured alcohol dissolves a shellac finish
  • If denatured alcohol alcohol offers no reaction, try lacquer thinner to see if the finish is varnish
  • Although milk paint finish is quite rare, if a piece is painted, best to try it with ammonia
  • If none of the chemicals above work, finish is most likely to be varnish or polyurethane that requires sanding before the application of a new coating

Check for any uneven parts in the surface where the finish might have scraped off, or chips and chunks on the wood with no varnish. Take special note of those areas when cleaning.

Be aware of the patina as well. Patina is part of the character of real antiques and if you are looking at getting the piece appraised for auction, then you would do well to preserve it instead of repainting the surface.

wooden clean ideas


Dusting and polishing are part of regular care for antique wooden furniture, and is essential to general house cleaning. Dusting is easily done with a feather duster or dry cloth. Regular dust removal prevents formation of grime on surfaces, especially on oiled surfaces. Polishing or waxing can be done every few months based on the condition of the antique wood. Make sure that the wood is completely dry before applying wax, therefore any spillages and water rings should be dealt with immediately. Avoid tung oil especially for antique wooden furniture as it darkens the grain and ages poorly.

Make sure to vacuum the upholstery, and better to always place cushion covers for protection. For metal parts, brass parts can be cleaned by dusting and burnishing. It is not advisable to use metal cleaners as it can damage the wood surrounding the metal. Bronze parts are very sensitive and should be handled with care, preferably with gloves. Acid from the skin may cause damage. Avoid polishing or burnishing, cleaning can be done by dusting with a soft brush instead.


A true antique furniture aficionado knows to be scared of too much water. When wood gets wet, it may swell and leave behind an uneven surface that distorts the finish of the furniture which is irreparable when it comes to antiques. When it comes to wood and water, the key is to avoid saturation and to dry out the wet spots immediately.

If the finish and coating of the surfaces are intact, then cleaning can be done with a damp cloth, and soap and water solution. Take note that the cloth or chamois should just be damp and not drenched and dripping.

If you’re still unsure and don’t want to risk any damage, best to leave the cleaning up to experts.


The pantry is full of versatile ingredients that can double as cleaning agents, oil and vinegar being the two of them. For those of you who are itching to bring back the glory to your antique wooden furniture and not seeing the need to call a house cleaning services or antique restoration experts, then these two ingredients will do the trick.

Use a ratio of ¾ olive oil and ¼ white vinegar. Mix it in a bowl where you can dip the cloth or shake in a spray bottle. Wipe or spray mixture on the wood using a soft cloth. Leave for a few minutes then wipe the surface again to remove any residue.

The scent may be of concern to you that is why it is advisable to place the piece of furniture in a well-ventilated space to air it out. The scent will eventually fade until the mixture dries.

cleaning solution for wood


Paying attention to where you place your antique wooden furniture matters not just for aesthetic purposes but also for its preservation. Some main factors to consider when choosing the right spot for antique furniture in your home or office:

  • Sunlight – Harsh, direct sunlight can cause fading of the wood’s natural color. What’s worse is then sunlight is directed to select parts of the furniture, leaving it in danger of an unevenly colored surface. Blinds and curtains can help filter out sunlight without leaving the room dark
  • Humidity – Controlling humidity can be quite tricky but this is important to make sure the wood doesn’t grow damp and develop rot, or dry out. Place a dehumidifier in damp rooms, and a humidifier in hot rooms. 50 – 55% humidity is ideal and can be tracked using a humidity indicator or garden hygrometer.
  • Temperature and Heating – It is ideal to keep room temperature at all times, and central heating low at night. This, coupled with monitoring humidity, helps in preserving the wood quality.


Antique wooden furniture requires special care and handling especially small and delicate pieces. Here are some tips on proper handling:

  • Tables and desks should be handled from the legs with proper support. Do not lift from the top.
  • Do not tilt the chair backwards when sitting as it may damage legs and form cracks due to the uneven weight distribution. Pick up the chair from the seat if lifting is necessary, not by the armrests and back rests.
  • Always pull all the handles and knobs of a drawer if there is more than one. Uneven pulling may leave cuff marks, or worse, chip the wood.
  • Always lift and do not drag.


There are many factors why you should seek out the help of professionals when it comes to antique wooden furniture– the expertise, the skills, the equipment. Most of all, it shows how much value you put into preserving the beauty of old craftsmanship.

How do you look for the right house cleaning service?

  • Look at the reviews – Customer feedback speaks a lot about the company and their services. What better way to know about the quality than to hear it from other customers?
  • Selection and training process – Give the provided a call and ask about the training their cleaning staff undergo through if it’s not already on their website. You want to make sure you are entrusting your antiques to qualified
  • Background check – A good service provider ensures they not only get people who are skilled, but of good character. It gives customers assurance as to the kind of people they are welcoming inside their homes.
  • Duration of service – Check which service can deliver the best results within an appropriate period. This is also important especially if you want to supervise the whole process and you have to make time for it in your schedule.
  • Guarantees – As with any good service provider, accountability for any possible damages gives customers assurance of the company’s commitment in making their customers happy. Give the provider a call and check if they have any insurance or guarantees for worst case scenarios.

If you are looking for highly recommended house cleaning services in San Antonio, then Modern Maids fit the bill. They offer world-class services to residents of downtown San Antonio, Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills, Converse, Hill Country Village, Castle Hills, Helotes, Leon Valley, China Grove and many more.

Modern Maids cleaners are well-trained to make sure your homes are gleaming after the service. Part of the services include deep cleaning, standard cleaning, as well as move-in/move-out cleaning.

To make it more convenient for customers, booking a schedule can be easily done via website and mobile.

Get those antiques back in the best condition, and get home to a spotless, gleaming house with the best house cleaning service in San Antonio. Get your money’s worth with Modern Maids.