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Clean Grime from Woodwork

Refresh your tired wood furniture and trim without having to strip and refinish

Photo by 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.