5 Household Items for Cleaning Furniture

Dusty wood can make a room feel dull. Help your furniture look its best!

Your favorite pieces of furniture are surely some of the most well-worn objects in your house. Who knows how many hours you've spent sitting in that chair or for how many tasks you've used that table top. Over time, this constant attention can take a toll on your favorite rocker or coffee table. Since your furniture does so much for you, you should consider giving some love back to it.

If the thought of cleaning furniture conjures the images of expensive sprays, oils and creams, think again. All you need to make your chairs and tables sparkle is already in your fridge or closet. To save time and money, take a peek at our list of 5 household items you can use to show your furniture some TLC. First up is something you may be very familiar with in the kitchen, but you probably had no idea it could be used to clean with as well.


5: Olive Oil

You probably use olive oil in some of your favorite recipes, but it turns out that olive oil isn't only useful for cooking. It also makes a great polish for unpainted wood furniture. But don't worry, your stir-fry won't suffer -- you'll only need a small amount of the olive oil for this job, then you can put it back on the shelf, and your veggies and pasta can rest easy, knowing that their sidekick is safe.

If you have some old wooden chairs that need a tune-up, grab the olive oil and a soft sloth. Thoroughly rub the plain olive oil into the furniture using the cloth. Your wood furniture will shine so well, it will seem brand new all over again.


4: Shoe Polish

If you're out of olive oil or need to save the last few drops for dinner, grab some shoe polish to fix up your wood furniture instead.

First, place the tin of polish in a warm spot in the kitchen or near the furnace to soften it. This way, it will spread and penetrate easily. Next, use a soft cloth to apply the polish and work it into the wood. Finally, use another soft cloth to buff the wood to a shine.


Clear polish works with all woods. Lighter browns work well with walnut and similarly-colored wood, and darker polish works better with darker woods. The polish can even help fill in and/or hide minor scratches and nicks in the wood.

3: Mayonnaise

No matter how many times you tell your kids, guests or spouse to use a coaster, someone's always going to put their glass of water right on your wooden table. If you find a ring after the fact, try not to faint. And if you witness the culprit setting down the sweaty ice water in the moment, try to resist lunging across the sofa to save your table, because there's a quick and easy way to get rid of those rings.

You can remove a ring on a wooden table easily with a little sandwich spread. With a clean, soft cloth, rub mayonnaise into the water mark on the wood. Leave it overnight. The next day, use another clean, soft cloth to wipe away the mayonnaise and, along with it, the water ring. Despite knowing of this miracle cream, you should still encourage everyone to use a coaster, or you're not going to have any spread left for lunch!


2: Socks

Your furniture needs a nice polish, but you don't want to ruin your towels just to make the chairs shine. It's great if you save old towels past their prime, but if you can't get a hold of one, head towards your dresser for the next best thing. That's right -- that random sock, whose partner seems to have gotten lost in the dryer, can finally be put use.

An old, laundered, cotton sock, slipped over your hand and perhaps treated with a bit of wood-furniture cleaner or polish, allows you to easily clean the crevices in carved-wood table and chair legs, banister supports, chair arms and back-slats, carved-wood accents, beveled edges and more. It conforms to your hand and to whatever part of the furniture you are wiping, allowing for quicker and more thorough cleaning.


1: Rubber Gloves

This household item isn't as surprising in its usefulness as olive oil or socks, because rubber gloves are something you already associate with cleaning. But we're not suggesting you use them in the conventional manner to keep your hands clean and dry; we're suggesting you strap them on to attack all the furniture Rover has been sitting on.

Rubber gloves are a "handy" way of removing pet hair from upholstered sofas and chairs, bedspreads, and other soft furnishings. You can wear cotton glove liners if rubber tends to irritate your skin. It's simple: dampen their outer surface and wipe the fabric. Rewet the outside of the gloves as necessary to maintain their "attractiveness." You'll be happily surprised at their almost magnetic ability to pull the hairs off your furniture.


Adapted from "101 Old-Time Country Household Hints," © 2008 Publications International, Ltd.