Keeping wood furniture and hardwood floors looking and feeling their best is a bit of an art. Try to take it from a thrifty eco-friendly angle and you’re taking things to a highly-specialized level.
There are various types of wood with an array of finishes and treatments, so knowing what to clean and how is intimidating. Luckily our basic wood cleaning can be done green with some simple considerations.
Picking up dust from wood furniture is made simple with a damp microfiber cloth. With just a little water, microfiber cloths can knock out basic dusting in a snap. If your surfaces need a little extra power to erase grub and gunk, then a homemade dusting spray using olive oil and vinegar can get things clean with a lovely shine. Just know that while vinegar is an ingredient in many dusting and polishing cleaners, it isn’t something you want to use on it’s own. The acidic nature of vinegar can damage wood finishes and treatments, so it’s best diluted. And while some people swear by the cleaning powers of alcohol, it can damage wood and strip paint.
Cleaning & Polishing
Before you put that rag to work, determine the finish of your furniture. Wood will be treated with either wax, oil, or paint, and what works well for one doesn’t always work so well for another. Painted finishes and oil treated furniture can be cleaned with soap and water, but use the same solution on wax finishes and you could end up with a tacky and gummy surface. A simple dusting works best for wax, with buffing or re-waxing for extra shine. Alternatively, oiled finishes get their infamously clean gleam with a polish using a hard drying oil like tung or boiled linseed. There are various ways to clean wood finishes, so just make sure you know your finish before you start sloshing sponges and rags around.
Believe it or not, one of the best things you can use to clean your floor is tea. Black tea can clean hardwood floors thanks to being just acidic enough to lift dirt while still being mild enough that it won’t damage the finish. And while we fear tea stains on our teeth, the dark color of black tea can enhance the color of medium to dark hardwood floors. Just use as little water as possible because wood’s absorbent nature makes it susceptible to water damage. Because of this, steam cleaners are an absolute NO. Damp mops are the ideal way to go, but a good old fashioned rag and bucket will work so long as extra water gets soaked up with a dry towel.
But before we any sort of “green” mopping, we need to determine whether the floor has a surface finish or a penetrating finish. Floors with a surface finish can be cleaned with a basic bucket of soap and water with an occasional mopping of water and vinegar to lift any soap buildup. Floors with a penetrating finish should only be cleaned with a natural citrus solvent. Other green options are out there, but stay away from any cleaning agents that lean towards either side of the pH scale as they’re more harsh. Know the fine print on floor care before you start scrubbing because many flooring manufacturers will void their warranty if you use a cleaner that doesn’t have their thumbs up.
Stains, scratches, and marks call for special consideration. Stubborn marks from water, heat, or ink, can be addressed with a special mayonnaise spot treatment. Yes, your favorite condiment can actually be used to help wood’s damaged zones in soaking up much-needed oil. Simply “soak,” wipe, and then polish clean. And if you’re suffering from the infamous scuff marks of tennis shoes and accidental run-ins with painted surfaces, the scrubbing powers of baking soda can take care of those dark marks.
Green cleaning may be a recent hot trend, but we’re really just stealing grannies tricks and throwing a green label on them. Do you have special cleaning tips passed down to you? Tell us about them!
Article written by Ash Stevens, blogger over at One Damn Good Woman. Ash is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity,culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing about family and relationships on her blog, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!