November 30, 2023


A Home Grown Success

How to get rid of buildup from outdated wooden furniture

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Q: What is the ideal way to thoroughly clean more mature wooden furniture that has gummy buildup from the complete breaking down and/or cleaning item buildup?

A: When more mature furnishings will get gummy, it’s frequently the worst all around knobs, armrests and the edges of tabletops or cabinet doorways, because that is wherever men and women grip and go away fingerprints. Other situations, the entire floor is sticky, a sign that cleaning items have built up or the complete is breaking down.

You are going to discover tips on the web that consists of wiping off the sticky stuff with vinegar and drinking water, or making use of a home made combine of equal elements turpentine, white vinegar and boiled linseed oil.

Jeff Jewitt, a ending professional and writer of “Refinishing Household furniture Manufactured Straightforward” and other publications on ending, suggests setting up by placing on nitrile gloves and dampening a cloth in paint thinner or mineral spirits. Rub a modest spot in circles, he said, then change the rag to expose a clean area and go on to the up coming location.

This treatment will consider off oily filth, outdated wax and polish, but it will not take away h2o-soluble grime, which is often a bigger dilemma. For that, he endorses working with a capful of Dawn hand dishwashing detergent in a pint of lukewarm water.

Carol Fiedler Kawaguchi, a ending specialist on Bainbridge Island, Clean., and operator of C-Noticed (, a small business that focuses on restoring antiques, ordinarily skips the step involving paint thinner or mineral oil, and alternatively of Dawn, she makes use of Murphy first oil cleaning soap ($4.59 for 16 ounces at Ace Hardware) diluted in heat water. The label implies employing ¼ cup, or two ounces, in one particular gallon of drinking water, but for a smaller position, you could blend 3 teaspoons of the cleaner with 4 cups of drinking water. For tough careers, you can double the focus of the cleaner.

It could seem counterintuitive to clean up wood home furniture with a cleansing alternative which is so higher in h2o, but don’t forget that you’re cleaning the finish, not bare wooden. The trick, in accordance to Jewitt and Fiedler Kawaguchi, is to stay away from saturating the end or building puddles.

Jewitt makes use of a clear cloth that’s damp, not dripping, and he refolds it usually to expose clear locations. Fiedler Kawaguchi takes advantage of a sponge or a gentle scrub pad that’s wrung out very well. She rinses the sponge or pad commonly in warm h2o, wrings it out, dips it into the cleaning resolution and wrings it out all over again to cleanse a new place.

Each Jewitt and Fiedler Kawaguchi suggest doing a mild ultimate rinse with simple h2o and a wrung-out, clean cloth. “The thought is to preserve h2o rinse to a minimum,” Fiedler Kawaguchi claimed. When she’s accomplished, she wipes the surface area dry.

If the piece even now feels sticky just after it is dry, the finish alone is possibly compromised, and easy cleansing won’t be adequate.

Fiedler Kawaguchi’s future move is to decide no matter whether the end is shellac, a pure resin created by a sort of insect. Shellac is a widespread complete on antiques but is scarce on contemporary household furniture, which is normally coated with lacquer, varnish or polyurethane. Pour a modest amount of money of denatured alcohol onto the complete, wait a couple minutes and see no matter if the finish is sticky if it is, the finish is shellac.

If it is shellac, Fiedler Kawaguchi puts on nitrile gloves and goes in excess of the complete again, this time with denatured alcoholic beverages on a fabric or smooth scrub pad. When she’s lucky, this revives the end more than enough and no more get the job done is necessary. “It can from time to time pull off the gunky things without the need of getting almost everything off,” she mentioned.

It is alright to quit at any issue, hold out for the floor to dry and exam no matter whether it is however gummy. After the sticky stuff is off, a new coat of shellac can go on if desired, due to the fact clean shellac sticks to old shellac.

If the finish isn’t shellac, she switches to a solution which is half denatured alcohol and 50 % lacquer thinner, which will strip off gummy lacquer. Lacquer thinner is a a lot more potent (and more toxic) solvent than denatured alcoholic beverages, so she is very careful to have good air flow. She takes advantage of shop towels to wipe off residue.

If that does not do the job, she works by using Citristrip’s paint and varnish stripping gel ($12.98 a quart at House Depot), which gets rid of lots of finishes, which includes paint, varnish, polyurethane, lacquer and shellac. Sporting nitrile gloves thick ample to stand up to strippers, and doing the job where by there is plentiful air flow, she applies the stripper with a paint brush and waits for the finish to soften, which can consider 30 minutes to 24 several hours. The floor will have to also be coated with plastic overnight, so the stripper doesn’t dry out.

She then utilizes a nylon scraper — under no circumstances a metallic a person — to eliminate most of the residue. She will get the relaxation off applying a 3M large-duty stripping pad ($2.98 for two at Property Depot) with a little paint thinner or turpentine, as effectively as shop towels.

For a final rinse, she utilizes paint thinner or turpentine. (She avoids water, mainly because the floor is bare wooden at that level.) The moment the surface area is dry, which can acquire a whilst after paint thinner is applied, it is prepared for an oil-primarily based stain or complete. For shellac, lacquer or a h2o-based stain or complete, it also requirements a ultimate cleansing with denatured alcoholic beverages to get rid of the oily residue from the paint thinner.

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