Wood furniture is rapidly regaining its popularity as Malaysians get more accustomed to interior design styles and have access to a wider range of products. That said, wood is very different than common furniture materials such as plastic, metal, glass, or fabric. It’s an organic material, which is part of its charm and beauty, but that also means you need to maintain it a little differently. It pays to know the right wood furniture care instructions – proper maintenance can extend the life of your high-quality wood furniture, long enough to be passed on to the next generation. If you’ve made a decision to invest in hardwood furniture, here’s 8 of our very best tips for wood furniture care.
1. Don’t let hot or cold drinks come into contact with wood surface
Ever notice what happens with your cold glass of beer or soft drink? A layer of moisture gathers around your glass and it usually leaves marks on whatever furniture it’s on, right? Well wood furniture is a magnet these water rings. Hot or cold, they react with wood surfaces to create discolouration, and these marks are somewhat permanent.
Protect your wood furniture with coasters and pads below glasses, mugs, plates, or your takeaway food containers.
If you find yourself the unfortunate owner of a wood desk with a brand new water ring courtesy of your absent minded spouse (or mischievous aliens…), it’s not the end of the world. Squirt some non-gel toothpaste on a damp cloth and rub softly over the water ring in gentle, circular motions. That should do the trick.
2. Create a scratch-free zone around your wood furniture
What’s a scratch-free zone? Glad you asked. Do you like having a vase or desk lamp on your desk? Do you use a mouse without a mousepad because, “It’s DPI is so high..” you don’t actually have to buy one? Time to change that as scratches on wood are the types that don’t go away.
As a rule of thumb, make your hardwood furniture scratch-free zones around your home and office. Don’t let anything sharp or hard come into direct contact with the wood surface. That’s not to say you can’t put stuff on your furniture – a workdesk isn’t a workdesk if you can’t do any work on it. Just cushion all these items with softer material in between. These include felt pads, soft cloth, or foam.
Some of the most common everyday items may be the biggest culprits for marks on your hardwood surface: your computer, monitors, charging adaptors, mouse, desk clock, writing without additional sheets of paper beneath. Unfortunately, pets, too, are the biggest culprits for scratches (…it’s so cute but… we must.. be.. strongg… it’s a scratch-free zone!).
Now, another variable that comes into play is the density and toughness of your wood type. High quality hardwood like Teak and Suar for example, are well-known for being super durable and should be able to withstand everyday knocks and scrapes. But because scratches are semi-permanent, and these hardwoods also come with premium price tags, it’s best to err on the side of caution and have that scratch free-zone, no matter the wood type.
3. Dust your wood furniture as often as you can
When it comes to scratches, dust particles are sneaky culprits. If left uncheck, anything that rubs against them on your wood sufrace may leave micro-scratches on your wood surface. Try looking at an old smartphone at an angle and you can catch some tiny scratches on its surface.
Again, these are semi-permanent, so try to dust your wood furniture as often as you can. If you can do it daily, do it daily. Cultivate a habit to dust your hardwood desk at the end of every work day so you don’t forget.
Use feather dusters or a damp microfibre / soft cloth to wipe off any dust that may be lingering on the surface for the day. And wipe gently in circular motions.
4. How to remove stain from wood
The finishing on high-quality wood furniture should be enough to prevent stains from most types of household spills, and forgive us for this next tongue twister, but spills still do happen. So do stains.
First up, make it a habit to wipe up any spills the moment they happen. Some substances create serious stains – we’ll get to those later on in the article – but the most common household stains on your wood furniture can be removed by adding some non-gel toothpaste and baking soda to a damp cloth, rubbing softly in circular motions again.
5. Direct sunlight changes the colour of your wood furniture
Exposure to direct sunlight will cause colour changes in wood. This isn’t a problem in itself, as colour changes is something you should expect in your wood furniture. Teak, for example, is well-known for being great outdoor furniture, and you’d expect colour changes to come with it. All solid wood changes colour over time, but UV rays (from the sun) accelerates this process. So if preserving the colour of your hardwood furniture is important to you, keep it out of direct sunlight.
6. Avoid these wood stains at all cost
Harsh chemicals and strong detergents may stain wood surfaces permanently. Keep nail polish, ink, mustard and alcohol (e.g. drinks, perfume, mouthwash, sanitizers) far, far away from your solid wood furniture. Burns are also impossible to get rid of so keep your scented candles (and cigarettes, if you smoke) somewhere else.
The same goes for cleaning products. Anything harsh will probably damage the layer of finishing that protects your wood furniture, so always check the labels. Avoid products that contain ammonia or silicone.
If something needs cleaning on your wood furniture – like food spillage, for example – use a damp cloth with a small drop of dish detergent. Use a microfibre if you have one, or soft cloth like cotton. And no aggressive scrubbing too. Gently does it.
7. How often should you polish wood furniture?
To be perfectly honest, unless you’re dealing with antiques, your wood furniture probably doesn’t need to be polished. Most modern solid wood furniture comes with modern finishing, which protects it from the elements.
Apart from there being no added benefit, what you’re probably doing instead is adding an unnecessarily sticky layer of goo that attracts and traps dust particles. And dust equals scratches. For the most part, dusting your wood furniture often and wiping with a damp cloth is enough to keep your wood furniture looking as good as new.
8. Odours and wood furniture
As wood furniture is porous, odours can seep into its surface and be very, very stubborn to remove. Cigarette smoke is one such odour. We once had a client for our commercial interior design business that was moving into a brand new outlet. The previous tenants allowed smoking on-premises and much of the cigarette smoke seeped into the wood fixtures. It became near impossible to get rid of the smell, which was one of the reasons they decided to tear everything down and redesign the whole thing.
Keep cigarettes away from your wood furniture. Also try to keep your wood furniture a little further from your kitchen.