Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Grime Off Wood Furniture

Wooden furniture can give a warm and cosy feeling to any room. However, you might notice your wooden tables and chairs are no longer pleasant to the touch after some time. Usually, that’s because a thin layer of grime has built up, covering sections of them. Fortunately, there are ways with which you can clean grime off wood furniture.

So, if you:

  • Recently inherited an ancient but excellent piece of furniture that’s a keeper;
  • Bought some second-hand furniture and want to freshen it up;
  • Wonder how to clean the surface grime without damaging the wood finish underneath,

Then read along!

Needed materials

Before you begin to clean grime off wood furniture, you need to supply yourself with the following items. Some of these you likely already have at home.

  • Two microfibre cloths
  • Mild dish soap
  • Bottle of mineral spirits
  • Wax polish (not mandatory)

Before you begin, remember this: never use aggressive scrubbing motions but rather gentle wiping motions. This way, you lower the risk of damaging the delicate finish. 

How to clean grime off wood furniture

Now that you have all your tools and solutions at hand, it’s time to get down to business.

Wipe down your furniture

The first step in any cleaning job, including removing grime from furniture, is always to remove the surface dirt before moving to stronger cleaning methods.

For this, you will need two microfibre cloths.

  • A damp one – for wiping the actual dirt off the surface.
  • A dry one – to absorb the moisture from the damp one. Water shouldn’t sit on the wood.

After you grab your cloth:

  1. Wipe down the furniture with your damp cloth. The dirt and dust will stick to the moist fabric. Just make sure you don’t oversaturate the wood – keep the cloth damp, not wet.
  2. Go over the surface again with the dry one. Do not forget the less visible and hard-to-reach places, as well. Chances are you’ll find cobwebs in addition to the dirt.

A simple wipe-down should also work to remove light mould and mildew. Just remember to dry the surface thoroughly. When you are cleaning mould and mildew, it’s better to use disposable microfiber cloths to avoid cross-contamination.

It is strongly recommended you use microfiber cloths on your wooden surfaces as they won’t cause scratches or scuffs.

Clean your furniture with dish soap

You may notice some icky spots which weren’t removed by the microfibre cloth during the wipe-down. If that is the case, you should get some dish soap.

  1. Put a few drops of dish soap on a microfibre cloth.
  2. Test it on an inconspicuous spot first. If the finish gets damaged, stop right away. If not, continue.
  3. Mix the soap with water. The more diluted the soap is, the safer it will be for your wood polish.
  4. Work on getting the grimy spots out. Be careful not to soak the wood in the water.
  5. Once the spot is gone, wipe the surface with a dry microfibre cloth.

You can also use dish sope to clean antique wood furniture. Cleaning grime off antique wood furniture requires a delicate touch to avoid damaging the wood’s finish or patina. Remember, antique furniture requires careful maintenance to preserve its character and value, so approach cleaning with care and attention.

Always wipe in the direction of the wood grain.

Clean your furniture with mineral spirits

Some grime is stubborn and won’t disappear with just water and liquid dish soap. In this case, mineral spirits will save the day. These are powerful solvents that should loosen up old dirt and oils; however, you need to use them cautiously.

  1. If possible, work in a well-ventilated room, as the fumes are not entirely harmless to your respiratory system.
  2. Test this ingredient on a small spot before using it on the entire wood surface. If it proves non-harmful to the polish, carry on.
  3. Apply a few drops of the spirits on a microfibre cloth.
  4. Gently rub until the built-up grime is gone.

How to remove thick grime from wood furniture

For more stubborn grime, create a paste by mixing baking soda with water until it forms a thick consistency. Apply the paste to the grime using a soft cloth or sponge. Gently rub the paste in a circular motion, following the wood grain. Avoid using excessive pressure, as this can damage the finish.

Another way to remove thick grime from wood furniture is to mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Lightly mist the vinegar solution onto the grime and let it sit for a few minutes. Vinegar can help break down grease and grime.

Wipe the area with a clean after both methods.

Once the grime is removed, you can restore the wood’s natural shine by applying a small amount of suitable natural oil, such as lemon or tung oil. Apply the oil to a cloth and wipe the surface in the direction of the wood grain. Buff the entire piece of furniture with a soft, dry cloth to bring out the shine and remove any excess oil.

How to remove cup rings from furniture

You will often see a ring mark on old tables, but thankfully, it’s not impossible to remove them. Try any of these two methods.

Using heat. You will need a hairdryer, olive oil and a soft rag.

  1. Set your hairdryer to medium heat.
  2. Hold it about 5 to 10 cm away from the ring mark for about 10 seconds at a time.
  3. Repeat until you start to see the mark disappear.
  4. Polish the wood with a little olive oil.

Lemon, Salt and Vinegar. Mind you, this method is more abrasive than the previous one.

  1. Mix vinegar, salt and lemon juice until you have a paste.
  2. Scrub the ring with the paste in a circular motion. It should start to disappear.
  3. Wipe the area with a damp cloth to finish up.
  4. Polish with some olive oil to give the surface its shine back.

For more info on this topic, check our dedicated post on how to remove watermarks from wood.

Hire professionals

If you lack enough free time or energy to do this tedious task, why not hire a professional? Fantastic Services works with experienced and fully-equipped cleaning experts. They will bring the shine back to your wooden furniture. And, should you need to have your soft furnishings cleaned, they can also provide a professional upholstery cleaning service. Get in touch today and schedule a visit!


  • Always use microfibre cloths on wooden furniture to avoid scratches and scuffs.
  • Use two microfibre cloths, one damp for the actual cleaning and one dry to absorb the moisture.
  • For hard grime, put some dish soap on your microfibre cloth.
  • For even tougher grime, use mineral spirits.
  • Always use gentle circular motions and not aggressive scrubbing.
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