How to Care for Wood Furniture: Dos & Don'ts Cleaning Guide

A person demonstrating how to care for wood furniture.

Wondering how to care for wood furniture properly? Are your surfaces starting to look a bit tired? You're not alone. A lot of people don't know how to clean wood furniture, and as a result, they end up ruining its original look.

How to Care for Wood Furniture

By following the 10 wood furniture cleaning dos and don'ts in this blog post, you'll be able to prevent damage caused by improper cleaning. Not only that, but you'll keep your wood surfaces looking exquisite - forever!

#1 Do Dust Regularly With A Soft, Dry Cloth 

To clean wood furniture properly, it's important to master the basics. Dusting is the most basic form of cleaning, and it should be done every week or so to keep your wood furniture looking fresh.

To dust properly, use a soft, dry cloth such as Guardsman Dusting Cloth. Gently go over all the surfaces of your wood furniture, paying special attention to nooks and crannies where dust likes to hide and accumulate.

Your lungs will thank you for dusting regularly, as will your wood furniture. By removing dust and debris, you're not just preventing allergies and germs, you're also preventing scratches and other damage that can occur when dust is left to accumulate.

#2 Don't Use Harsh Chemicals To Clean Your Wood Furniture

Have you ever wondered why wood furniture looks so beautiful?

A big part of the reason is your wood's professional finish. This factory-applied coating makes wood surfaces appear vibrant and colorful.

Unfortunately, that professional finish is delicate, and harsh chemicals can strip it away. Once the professional finish is gone, it's difficult to repair or replace.

Common cleaners and chemicals that will "uglify" your wood (for a lack of a better term):

  • Ammonia
  • Acidic DIY solutions with vinegar or lemon juice
  • Strong solvents like acetone or nail polish remover
  • Bleach
  • Soap and water solutions
  • Alcohol

Any of these can damage your wood's professional finish, leaving it dull and lifeless. It'd be nice if there was a warning label on these products, but sadly, there isn't. So if your wood looks dull, and you can't figure out why - one of these harsh chemicals may be to blame.

#3 Do Use A Soft Cloth And A Gentle Cleaner

When deciding how to care for wood furniture, the cleaner you use makes all the difference!

Here's the thing: Most cleaners are too harsh for wood. They're so "effective" at cleaning that they will remove everything on the surface of your wood - the dirt, the grime, and yes, even the finish. (That part isn't advertised on the bottle.)

So... what's a wood-loving person to do???

Easy. When it comes to cleaners, choose one that's specifically made for wood furniture surfaces.

The cleaner must be pH balanced (not too acidic or too alkaline) and free of abrasive chemicals or dust-attracting residues. Trusted by furniture professionals worldwide, Guardsman has been a leader in protection of wood furniture for more than a century. Its Deep Clean Purifying Wood Cleaner is gentle, pH balanced, and proven to be safe on wood

#4 Don't Submerge Your Wood Furniture In Water

You probably know about this one. Water and wood don't mix. 

Just like with harsh chemicals, too much water exposure can damage your wood furniture. Avoid using water to clean wood surfaces.

When water seeps into the cracks and joints of your furniture, it can cause the wood to swell, warp, crack, or discolor. Water stains are difficult to remove once they've set in.

#5 Do Dry It Off Immediately With A Soft Cloth If It Gets Wet

When your wood furniture gets wet for whatever reason, dry it off immediately with a soft, dry cloth. Anytime you expose wood to moisture, you take the risk of causing stains or other forms of water damage.

If your wood is not sealed, dry it off as quickly as humanly possible! Remember that unsealed wood is very porous and will absorb water rather quickly, which is just asking for trouble. The changes in moisture as it dries will cause unsightly stains that will be noticeable from a mile away.

#6 Don't Use Oil-Based Cleaners Or Polishes

Oil-based products and polishes with silicone are a no-go when it comes to maintaining or cleaning wood furniture.

They may give your wood a nice shine in the short term, but they will eventually build up and attract dirt, dust, and grime. Over time, this will make your wood look the complete opposite of what you want - unless you're going for a "lived-in" look, that is.

#7 Do Clean In The Direction Of The Grain

When cleaning your wood furniture, wipe in the direction of the grain. This will help to prevent any scratches or scuffs on the surface. Wiping in the opposite direction is inevitable sometimes, but try your best to follow the grain to avoid streaking.

When it comes to cleaning wood furniture, always err on the side of caution. Make sure the cloth you're using is extremely soft. For daily dusting, Guardsman Dusting Cloth is ideal. For deep cleaning or polishing, use a top-quality microfiber cloth.

#8 Don't Place Hot Items Directly On Your Wood Surfaces

This one is pretty self-explanatory. 

Hot items can cause your wood furniture to warp, crack, or discolor. Use trivets or heat-resistant pads to protect your wood surfaces from heat damage.

If a hot item does come into contact with your wood furniture and leaves a mark, the damage will likely be permanent. So, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

#9 Do Use Felt Pads Under The Legs Of Your Furniture

If you want to protect your floors and furniture, use felt pads under the legs of all your pieces. This will help to prevent scrapes, scratches, or dents when moving furniture around. 

The felt pads will cost you a few bucks - a small price to pay to keep your precious wood floors and furniture in good condition.

#10 Do Nourish Your Wood Surfaces Every Year Or So

Last but not least, make sure to nourish your wood furniture every year or so. A revitalizing agent will help to protect the wood from discoloration, fading, drying, and cracking.

Guardsman Revitalizing Lemon Oil gives wood a natural shine and smell, without any harmful chemicals. It replenishes lost oils and moisture to keep wood looking and smelling fresh.

Applying it on your wood furniture is an easy process, and it's well worth the effort. It's a measure you can take to give your surfaces a new lease on life and extra protection against harmful UV rays.

So, What's The Moral Of The Story?

In short, here's how to clean wood furniture safely and effectively:


  • Use a soft, dry cloth to dust your furniture regularly.
  • Thoroughly dry the surface after cleaning with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Use water-based cleaners and polishes to maintain the natural beauty of your wood furniture.
  • Wipe in the direction of the grain when cleaning or dusting your wood furniture.
  • Place felt pads under the legs of your furniture to protect floors and surfaces from scratches or scuffs.
  • Do use gentle cleaners specifically formulated for wood furniture.


  • Don't use oil-based products or polishes with silicone on your wood furniture.
  • Don't place hot items directly on your wood surfaces.
  • Don't use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on your wood furniture.
  • Don't let your wood be exposed to water

By following these simple dos and don'ts of how to care for wood furniture, you can keep the pristine condition of your wood furniture for years to come. And, if you do happen to damage your furniture, Guardsman has you covered with our line of wood repair products.


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