You can use furniture polish to cover scratches, nicks, dings, and imperfections in wood furniture. But should you use furniture polish on all wood finish? And is aerosol furniture polish okay for pre-treated faux wood furniture? Or should you just dust it with a microfiber cleaning cloth?
We Ask a House Cleaner about the best type of furniture polish and when to use it. Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru gives tips on cleaning shellac or veneer wood furniture.
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Listen: What Type of Furniture Polish is Best?
Watch: What Type of Furniture Polish is Best?
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.
Question: What Type of Furniture Polish is Best?
What is the best furniture polish to use? It’s an excellent question and we’re going to talk about that today.
A house cleaner asked me “What is the best kind of furniture polish they I should be using for my business?”
Furniture Polish Tips From House Cleaners Worldwide
Now I should preface this question by saying that I belong to a private Facebook group that has over 6,800 professional house cleaners in it.
So we have a lot of conversations about things like this. And what I’m going to share with you is a compilation of opinions from professional house cleaners.
We all get to use a lot of different types of furniture polishes. And we get to clean lots of different types of furniture. We talk about different products and what works and what leaves waxy build-up and what shows fingerprints and all these things.
The Use of Furniture Polish Depends On The Type of Wood
You may not need furniture polish on all types of wood. The key is to determine whether the furniture in question is real or faux wood.
If you’re not sure, it may come down to quality and price. If you paid a couple hundred dollars or a couple hundred pounds, it’s probably a fake wood or a plywood that has a veneer cover over it. And if you paid a couple of thousand dollars for it, it’s probably real wood.
Real wood is going to use a different type of furniture polish than the veneer type products. Now the veneer type products are already pre-treated. That’s the good news. Yay.
Dust Before Using Furniture Polish
With a soft microfiber cloth or a duster, dust the wood. If it’s a faux wood with a pre-treated veneer that may be all you need.
If you don’t need furniture polish or chemicals don’t use them. The use of chemicals in pre-treated veneer coated products can harm or ruin the surface.
Be Clear About Your Reasons for Furniture Polish
Furniture polish has different purposes. One purpose is to fill in cracks, gaps, scratches, dents or renew the vibrancy of the wood. So what are you trying to do?
If you have gunk like you might find on the front of wooden kitchen cabinets – you will need to clean them before using furniture polish.
To clean the muckity muck off cabinets you can use a homemade paste of baking soda and dish soap. Rub it on the cupboards over the sticky gunk and brush with a soft toothbrush. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Once the cupboards are clean you can use a furniture polish made of oil and that will shine and polish them.
Use Furniture Polish in an Inconspicuous Spot First
Furniture polish is not designed for instant results. It’s best to test areas of wood for waxy build up, spotting, fingerprints and texture before polishing an entire set of cabinets.
Now, furniture polishes is made of different things. There is a wide variety of furniture polishes and they’re not created equal. Some are beeswax, some are carnauba paste. Others are oil or petroleum based which is like Vaseline.
They spread on furniture and fill in gaps, and cracks making old wood look new again leaving behind a shine.
Oil Based Furniture Polish is a Dust Magnet
Furniture will collect dust anyway. But dust will stick to furniture polished with an oil based product. So it looks nice for a bit and then the dust is really obvious when it settles.
So, yeah, if you’re going to use an oil-based furniture polish you have to stay right on top of it. Dust and polish, dust and polish, dust and polish.
Aerosol Furniture Polish with Wax
Now you’ll see a lot of aerosol products on the market with the homeowner in mind. It’s super easy to use. People just spray it on their furniture and then they wipe it and it looks nice. Yay.
Okay, the problem is a lot of the aerosols have wax in them, and so when you spray that on there, it leaves a waxy build-up on your furniture. It looks really nice for a few minutes.
Then you leave, and as it starts to fade off, there are spots and splotches, and when you touch your furniture, it leaves fingerprints.
So now you got to go out and you got to buy more furniture polish and you got to do it again. Aerosol furniture polish smells so nice.
And so there are people addicted to furniture polish just to feed that need.
You Can Strip The Waxy Buildup from Furniture Polish
They sell furniture polish that strips the waxy buildup. They consist of turpentine and mineral spirits. The problems is that while they strip the waxy buildup they can also strip the veneer on the wood.
If you are going to use these products it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Take Care of Your Furniture From The Start
So if you’re buying a brand new piece of wood furniture you may not have to use any furniture polish at all.
Use a microfiber cloth for dusting and polish and buff the wood with your cloth.
All Furniture is Not Made of Wood
Okay, so the next thing that we have to take into consideration is that all furniture is not created equal. You might have some furniture that has wood in it. But it might also have steel legs, or it may have a glass tabletop, or it might have a leather back to it.
It’s important to learn to care for the type of furniture you have.
So you can’t use furniture polish on all those other substances. Every substance has its own special cleaning solution or detergent to help clean that particular surface.
Don’t Use Furniture Polish on Leather, Glass or Stainless Steel
If your chair has a leather back, you need a leather cleaner. You can’t use furniture polish on that.
If you have stainless steel legs on a wooden table, you can’t use furniture polish on the stainless steel legs or you’ll leave a waxy buildup.
If you use it on glass it’s going to smear and it won’t have the clear look that glass has.
You have to use different cleaning chemicals for different surface types in order to care for your furniture.
This is one of the reasons I suggest a microfiber cloth for dusting and polishing. You can dust all surfaces with a clean dry or damp microfiber cloth and you’re done.
A Microfiber Duster or Cloth Works Wonders
You can use a clean microfiber cloth that on the glass, leather, stainless steel, and wood. This will cut your “cleaning” time down in a significant way.
Furniture Polishes with a Scent
I know lots of people love to use furniture polishes that have a scent to them. It smells like orange and citrus or lemon. Okay, the truth of the matter is that clean does not have a smell, and so your furniture does not need to smell. If you’re putting stuff on your furniture just because it smells nice, you may want to rethink that.
There are essential oils and other things that you can diffuse in your house that will give your house a nice smell.
Tips to Get the Most From Your Furniture Polish
Spray or oil your microfiber cloth and use that to dust/polish. Spraying, squirting or pouring furniture polish directly on wood can cause uneven distribution. It can also cause overspray getting the furniture polish on non-wood related fabrics like glass and leather or your carpet.
Polish a piece of wood that is inconspicuous first. Like if it’s your kitchen cabinets, do it on the inside of your kitchen cabinet and see how it reacts and how it responds, and maybe try it for a week or two. See what it looks like after a week or two before you actually do the fronts of all your cabinets. Then if it works out fine and there’s no problem or whatever, then you can go ahead and do the outsides of your cabinets or your wood furniture or whatever.
Dedicate a cloth to dark wood and a cloth for light wood. Keep your colored furniture polish consistent on those two cloths. This way when you come across a nick or ding in some wood furniture, you can just rub your dedicated cloth over it and fill in the gaps.
Different Types of Furniture Polish For Different Types of Wood
There are different colors of furniture polish for different types of wood. Dark polishes are great for mahogany or cherry wood. Light polishes are great for lighter wood.
Get the Client’s Permission Before Using Funiture Polish
If you’re going to use a furniture polish in a client’s home, make sure that you have their permission first. You don’t want to be the one who creates a waxy buildup on their furniture when they prefer the damp microfiber method.
And if they do insist that you use furniture polish, let them pick it out and provide it. That way they are getting the same product they will use to touch up the furniture between cleanings and the results will be consistent.
We usually carry a light and a dark liquid furniture polish in the event that we have something small we are touching up like nicks and dings. We also carry furniture markers and wax crayons for furniture and hardwood floors with us.
And then and only then do we use it with the customer’s permission, but it’s not a regular thing that we use most of the time.