Caring For Your Oak
We’ve got plenty of advice on how to care for your oak furniture, to help maintain its grandeur and unique look. Every once in a while though, and especially when it gets to spring time, you’re going to be wondering about whether your oak needs some more thorough attention.
If you’re taking care of your oak properly on a day to day basis then generally there’s not too much hard work involved in cleaning your oak furniture. Nonetheless, it’s worth revisiting once or twice a year, if only to double check that there’s no lasting damage, and to make sure you’re on the right track for handing your oak furniture down through the generations.
Follow this advice and you’ll be able to rest easy while keeping your oak furniture clean and presentable.
Avoid Chemical Products
First things first: never use cleaners on your oak furniture that aren’t specifically made for it. Many standard, all-purpose household cleaners are not appropriate for hardwood, and using them on your furniture will cause permanent and potentially irreparable damage.
Always check the instructions on a product to see if it is safe for your oak furniture. If it doesn’t specify, then play it safe and don’t use it. Only certified products should be used.
Avoid Getting Wet
When cleaning your oak furniture, it’s important not to let it get too wet. Even with a protective outer layer, excess water can easily seep into the wood and cause damage below the surface which manifests later.
In most cases a very slightly damp cloth will be enough. You should be wiping spills up immediately, so there’s no need to scrub, but in the case of dried on food and stains, a thorough, continuous and light stroke with a slightly damp cloth should still be enough to loosen and remove dirt without causing further damage to the oak.
Apply Product to Cloth, not Furniture
If you are using a safe to use cleaning product, apply it to the cloth rather than the furniture itself. This will ensure that the product is applied lightly and evenly, reducing damage from excess.
In most cases, only a small amount of cleaning product is necessary, so be sure not to overdo it.
Non-scratchy, fluff-free cloth
It’s important that you use the right sort of cloth to clean your oak furniture, something that won’t scratch or leave behind fluff. Scratchy cloths will damage the outer layer, allowing spillages and water from the air to seep into the wood, damaging it further over time. Cloths with excess fluff will leave particles behind in the top layer, also allowing further damage as well as ruining the clean aesthetic of the wood.
It’s even more important during polishing and re-applying wax to make sure that your cloth won’t leave behind unwanted particles in the finish, otherwise it will need to be removed and reapplied.
You should be dusting your oak furniture on a regular basis to make sure that dirt isn’t caught in the protective outer layer, and to keep it looking clean.
To dust your oak furniture apply a very small amount of water to your non-scratch, fluff-free cloth and gently wipe the surface to be sure to catch any dirt and take it with you. Wipe the furniture down a second time with a dry cloth to make sure that no excess water is left behind, then leave the oak to fully dry before replacing any coverings.
Waxing, Oiling and Polishing
Once every six months or so, it’s a good idea to treat your oak furniture to help maintain its protective outer layer. How you treat your wood is mostly going to be based on how it was originally treated: you should wax oak that was originally waxed, oil oak that was oiled, and polish oak that was lacquered. In all cases it’s possible to use different finishes, but they will generally be less effective, and can change how the furniture looks, so it’s generally best to stick with what you already have.
Waxing Oak Furniture
Bees wax is a natural treatment for oak furniture, containing no chemical additives and helping maintain your oak’s original lustre. Wax should be applied with some vigour, firmly rubbing it in along the grain of the wood.
Apply the wax with a non-scratch, fluff-free cloth, leave for 5 minutes or so then use a fresh cloth to polish it, again firmly, simultaneously removing excess wax.
Waxing furniture also helps to fill in the small scuffs and scratches that occur through everyday use, leaving you with a surface that is not only beautiful, but also smooth to the touch.
Oiling Oak Furniture
Applying a new coat of oil involves removing the previous coat and re-oiling the bare wood, to help the oil soak into the wood’s pores and protect it. Lightly sand the wood, making sure to go with the grain to avoid damaging the aesthetic.
Once the wood has been fully sanded and dusted and is smooth to the touch you can apply a thin layer of oil, enough so that the wood glistens slightly but is not soaking wet. Leave for 15 minutes or so, then use a dry cloth to polish the surface, simultaneously removing any excess oil.
After applying oil to your furniture, leave it for a day before using it to make sure that the oil has fully dried.
Polishing Oak Furniture
If your oak is lacquered then it only requires polishing to keep it well protected. First, you should wipe your furniture down with a slightly damp cloth, which will do most of the job of keeping it clean.
If your lacquered furniture looks a little dry, however, or you want to add extra shine then polish can be used. Use a light layer of polish and buff it with a clean cloth until it shines and there’s no residue left over.
Once you’re done your polished oak furniture is ready to be used immediately.
Waxing, oiling or polishing your oak furniture once every 6 – 12 months will add even more longevity to it and keep it looking as beautiful as the day you bought it. As long as you take care of it on a daily basis as well, your oak furniture will last a lifetime or more.