rag to help upkeep with stained wood furniture
Photo: William Wright
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Keeping It Clean

On the shelves of supermarkets, hardware stores, and home-improvement centers you can find dozens of products that promise to clean, pick up dust, impart shine, add a nice aroma—or all of the above—to your furniture. The truth is that although none of them will do your finish any harm, none is absolutely necessary to keep furniture looking its best. Dusting with a dry cloth generates friction, which creates a slight static charge on the surface that in turn attracts more dust. Dusting/polishing sprays, such as Pledge, reduce the static and help the rag hold the dust, but a damp cloth does both these things just as well. Some sprays leave behind a thin film of oil that temporarily adds shine, but the oil acts like a magnet for whatever dust lands on it.

For routine cleaning, diluted dishwashing soap or furniture cleaner such as Murphy Oil Soap is gentle and effective. Avoid strong alkaline- or ammonia-based detergents (like window cleaners); they can harm some finishes. And never use scrubbing cleansers, which contain abrasives that will dull almost any sheen.
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