Fortunately, wood care is not all that complicated, something you can accomplish with a little elbow grease on your part.
Cleaning With Care
You may note that your wood pieces have been carefully maintained over the years. You have applied polish to make each piece sparkle, but you may have also contributed to the problem by adding an increasingly thicker amount of sticky film on the surface. It is now time for a thorough cleaning.
Before you get started, you need to choose your cleansers carefully. Strong cleansers can damage the wood and should only be used where lighter cleansers did not get the job done. Always test what you use on areas of the wood that are not readily visible such as a rear leg facing the wall. Once you find an application that successfully cleans without damaging the finish, then you are ready to proceed.
Choosing Cleaning Agents
The simplest and gentlest cleansing agent is a solution of dishwashing liquid and water. You can dab a drop of the detergent on a cotton swab first and apply to test its reaction to the wood. If the test succeeds, then go ahead with the solution by using a clean, disposable sponge. Avoid soaking the wood: apply with a rung out sponge, use circular motions, rinse and repeat. Wipe down with a clean cloth.
Alternatively, you can use mineral spirits to wipe down wood. Simply apply to a clean cloth and wipe the wood in a circular motion. If the wood still appears grungy you will need to step up your efforts accordingly. You are now into refinishing territory something that denatured alcohol can handle with shellac. With all other finishes including lacquer and varnish, you may want to hire a professional to make sure that this job is done right.
A Two-Step Process
Cleaning wood is just the first step in a two-step protection process. The second step involves gently rubbing the wood with fine steel wool to roughen the surface to receive wax. Steel wool is a mild abrasive that ensures that the wax is applied evenly across the surface. Choose a butcher wax for most surfaces or a microcrystalline wax for sensitive finishes. Apply with a cheesecloth, moving quickly and generously across the surface.
Once done, you will have wood furniture that has returned to its former glory. Instead of paying out hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars for new furniture, you can get more years out of the furniture you know and love. This is a project that can be done piece by piece or you can tackle on a Saturday in one feel swoop.
See Also — Smart Repair Tips for Outdoor Furniture