woodwork cleaners: Murphy Oil Soap, paint thinner, rag, sponge
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
Don't assume that tired woodwork has to be stripped and refinished. Sometimes a good cleaning is all it takes to bring it back to life, says wood finisher John Thomas. Here are his recommendations for cleaning woodwork properly.

Painted Surfaces: Scrub with soap and warm water.

Clear Finishes: Mix up equal parts of paint thinner and a mild soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap, and apply with a sponge or paintbrush. Wipe the solution away with a rag to clear the dirt; you'll likely remove a thin layer of varnish or shellac, too, because the grime has melded with it.

Details: To clean deep into carvings or beadwork, use a toothbrush or fine steel wool.
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