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How to Clean Oak Furniture and Remove Stains

How to Clean Oak Furniture and Remove Stains

This article will also look at how to remove stains from oak furniture. Compared with other woods, oak has a clearly visible grain which means that little marks and stains can get hidden. But because oak is a natural material, it can get stained. It’s not uncommon to find nasty water marks on your oak table, usually thanks to some inconsiderate person who didn’t use a coaster! So this article also takes a look at how to remove stains from an oak table.

Read on for our top tips on how to clean your oak furniture and keep it in tip top condition.

How to care for oak furniture

To keep your oak furniture in good shape, you need to remember that it’s a natural material and treat it as such. This means you have to think about where you place your oak furniture in the room. 

Avoid placing oak furniture next to radiators, ovens, or other heat sources. The same applies for direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause oak furniture to dry out, potentially leading to cracking and colour fading.

You should also protect your oak furniture from temperature extremes on the other end. Avoid placing oak furniture next to an air vent or air conditioning system. And, of course, keep oak furniture away from anywhere damp. Damp walls, or basements can cause your furniture to warp.

Most oak furniture is coated with a protective layer of bee’s wax or oil. Keep your furniture moisturised and looking at its best by recoating it with a thin layer when necessary.

How to clean an oak table

How should you clean an oak table? A simple damp cloth is the best way. Most cleaning products aren’t designed for use on wood, and could damage the finish of your furniture.

When it comes to cleaning up spills, remember that prevention is better than cure! If you have an oak table, make sure you always have a ready supply of coasters - and make sure that people use them! It only takes a single wet glass, or hot cup of coffee to leave a mark on your table.

Wipe up any spillages as soon as possible. Oak is porous, which means that if you leave any liquid on the surface, it will eventually seep in and cause a stain. The longer you leave it, the deeper the stain, and the more effect it will take to clean up. So do yourself a favour, and pounce on any spillages with a damp cloth, and dry them off with a towel as soon as see them! Wipe in the direction of the grain, to avoid pushing water deeper into the wood.

Never put anything hot directly onto an oak surface, as it will leave dark stains on the wood which are difficult to remove. Invest in some thick mats and trivets to ensure that they heat doesn’t go through and damage your oak furniture.

How to clean old oak furniture

When it comes to old or antique oak furniture, you obviously want to be extra careful with cleaning. Nonetheless, the same principles apply whether your oak furniture is new or old. A damp cloth is usually the best way to go. After wiping the furniture, make sure to dry it off with a soft cloth. As usual, apply a thin layer of wax or oil, and buff it with a soft cloth to give the best finish.

Cleaning oak furniture with vinegar

A mixture of vinegar and olive oil is an alterative, traditional way to clean your oak furniture. Mix two parts olive oil with one part vinegar, and if possibly, apply it thinly from a spray bottle. Use a soft, clean cloth to rub it gently into the surface. The olive oil will moisturise the surface, while the vinegar has gentle cleaning properties. Cleaning wood furniture with vinegar is a great, environmentally-friendly way to clean without using toxic cleaning products that harm the environment and shorten the life of your furniture.

how to clean oak table

How to remove stains from an oak table

If the unthinkable has happened and something has stained your beautiful table, don’t panic. There are several tried and tested methods that may get stains out of your oak table.

Bear in mind that different methods may suitable depending on what sort of stain it is. Surface level stains may be easily removed, but deeper stains require different methods - and may require professional assistance.

Removing water stains from wood with mayonnaise

One of the simplest, most effective ways to remove water rings, stains, and other water damage on wood is with mayonnaise. Believe it or not, this common household item has saved thousands of people from the brink of disaster! Rub a small amount of mayonnaise into the stain and leave it to sit for 30 minutes or, for tough stains, overnight. 

The oils in mayonnaise should help to displace the water. After you’ve let it sit for a while, wipe up the mayonnaise with a cloth. If it’s looking a bit better, then reapply a little wax or polish to get the surface looking back at its best.

Removing stains from wood with toothpaste and baking soda

For tougher stains, try the toothpaste method. Apply a little toothpaste to a damp cloth and rub the stain gently. Most toothpastes contain a mild abrasive that can help to remove the stain.

If toothpaste alone didn’t work, then you can step things up a little by adding some baking soda to the toothpaste. This will make a solution that’s slightly more abrasive, and also has some water-absorbing qualities. Try rubbing a little harder if necessary.

Removing dark stains from wood

A darker stain generally means that the level of damage is greater. It could be that a liquid has penetrated deeper into the wood, or if a hot item has been placed on the surface, the wood has probably been scalded or burnt. Dark stains require a little more work to fix than lighter-coloured stains.

How to restore an oak table top

If your oak table top has dark stains on it, it may be time for you to restore it fully.

To restore your table top and remove dark, deeply embedded stains, you will have to strip the finish from the wood by sanding it with fine sandpaper. On the worst affected areas, you may need to apply a little more pressure until you have sanded away any tough stains. By using sandpaper, you are effectively subtracting wood from the table, so it’s important to go carefully and gradually. Make sure to use a fine sandpaper, rather than a course one.

After stripping the finish and sanding down the stain, you will then need to refinish the surface with wax or oil. Buff it with a soft, clean cloth to give a great finish.

A good oak table can last a lifetime. Browse House of Oak’s beautiful, quality oak dining table range.