QUESTION: HOW DO YOU CLEAN UP OLD, DRY WOOD?
ANSWER: WITH MY HANDY DANDY JUNK CLEANING PROCESS!
I have had some questions about how I clean up the nasty, dirty, dried out wood furniture that I drag home from the jockey lot. I am going to give you the trial and error process that I use here at home before I can actually bring my treasures in to the house.
I am not going to lie. My husband and I are a little crazy. And we will most likely be featured at some point on Hoarders. We tend to love stuff that most people would not allow in the back of their pickup truck, much less in their house. Sometimes we make great buys, sometimes we don’t. But 9 times out of 10, when you are bringing stuff home from the jockey lot or off of the side of the road, you can’t tell what you’ve got until you get it home and clean it up. Normal people do not usually have to remove layers of mud from their home furnishings, but I am not one of those people.
One time I bought a handful of silver items that were almost hidden underneath a bunch of tools on a table of a sweet older gentleman wearing overalls and a gimme cap for a couple of bucks. I got it home and cleaned it up, and found from the markings that I had Charleston coin silver from the 1700’s!
MY 6 STEP JUNK CLEANING PROCESS
- Repair water spots
- Restore moisture
- Repair scratches
- Even out the finish, if needed
[tweetthis]How do I Clean Old, Dry Wood? [/tweetthis]
HOW TO GET YOUR JUNK HOUSE-READY
The absolute first thing I do with my new pieces is to brush off most of the dirt, spider webs, and/or wasp nests that I can find. Yes, I have actually brought something home with nests inside it. My favorite wood cleaner is Murphy’s Oil Soap. I spray it on all over the piece, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and then wipe it off.
2. Repair water spots
I know everyone has sat a coffee cup or glass down on a wood table without using a coaster, making a white water spot. The white rings are caused by the absorbing too much moisture. Dab some Duke’s Mayonnaise on the ring and let it sit 30 minutes to an hour, then wipe it off. I live where Duke’s is made, so for me it does have to be Duke’s, but you can use whatever brand you prefer, just make sure it is real mayo, not Miracle Whip. Yuck.
3. Restore moisture
I know it sounds crazy, especially since I just had you using mayonnaise, but this actually does work!
1.) Mix three parts oil to one part vinegar in a jar with a lid.
2.) Close the lid of the jar and shake to combine.
3.) Dip a clean rag or piece of cheesecloth in to the mixture, and rub in to the wood. It will soak in as you go!
Note: I have read that olive oil, walnut oil, or hemp oil work best for the oil part, and it doesn’t matter what type of vinegar you use. I will be honest, I have used cheap canola oil, anti seems to work fine.
4. Repair scratches
If you can still see scratches that you just can’t live with, find a walnut. Crack open a walnut and rub the meat along any dings or scratches and see if it makes them fade.
5. Even out the finish, if needed
I am definitely not a perfectionist about my furniture. I like it to look well-loved. Sometimes I am going to use milk paint on a piece, sometimes I am fine with what I have, and then there are a few pieces that I want to look a little more finished. I certainly don’t ever want to have to strip and refinish something. The product that I absolutely swear by is Howard’s Restor-a-Finish, a wood product that you can find at most hardware stores and home improvement centers.
From the product description:
In 1969, Douglas G. Howard set out to solve this dilemma: how can you eliminate blemishes in wood finishes and restore the original color and luster without removing any of the existing finish? Unable to find an answer at his local hardware store, he went to work in his garage to create his own product. His goal was to make something that would be much more than a surface treatment, yet nothing like a stripper or a refinisher. The key was to develop a formula that could clean and polish the surface, penetrate the finish with stain, and leave the original finish intact. The end result was Restor-A-Finish, Doug Howard’s first in what would become a complete line of wood care products. For over 40 years, Howard’s Restor-A-Finish has been a standard in the antique industry. Because Restor-A-Finish preserves the original wood finish it also helps preserve its authenticity and value, whereas stripping the finish may literally strip the piece of its value. Almost any existing wood tone, from a Birdseye Maple to a Jacobean, can be closely matched using one of the nine available finish colors. Trying it on just about everything with a traditional wood finish, antique dealers, refinishers, and homemakers have found it to be a safer and easier alternative to stripping and refinishing. Scratches, oxidation, white heat rings, watermarks, smoke damage, and sun fade simply disappear.
I mentioned Howard’s Restor-a-Finish, and I also use their Feed N Wax Polish and Conditioner!
This is what it does, from the product description:
Enhance the natural beauty and depth of grain in finished and unfinished wood
Prevent drying and deterioration of all wood finishes
Polish all wood surfaces to a soft luster and protect with a coating of natural waxes
Use to maintain the restored finish after using Howard Restor-A-Finish
So my lovely piece in the picture, which is filthy, was used as my guinea pig. I went through steps 1-3 in my process, just through the oil/vinegar application on one half of the top drawer. Look at the difference!
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