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.