The Best Non-Toxic Cleaners You Already Have
Part 4 of 5 - Polishing Wood

The Best Non-Toxic Cleaners You Already Have
Part 4 of 5 - Polishing Wood

Trent Johnson
Feb 13, 2009

In Part Four of The Best Non-Toxic Cleaners You Already Have we look at natural ways to restore the original shine to wood that may have seen better days.

While I love Method products and we stock a bottle of their "wood for good surface cleaner", it's possible to make a simple alternative to an aerosol can of that lemon scented stuff, with a few common household ingredients.

For unfinished wood, mineral oil is king (Note: Not mineral spirits) - it's food safe, non-toxic and natural. Other oils like olive or vegetable on unfinished wood can become rancid when used on unfinished wood because of the high rate of absorption but you'll see below that olive oil can be used for rejuvenating finished woods.

For furniture that has already been finished, olive oil will also works great for polyurethane or laminate covered finishes. There are some who believe that it will become rancid, but if you work it into the furniture and ensure to use it with lemon juice or vinegar, it will work wonders and leave a nice finish. Here are two recipes from (just be sure to use these finishes shortly after you make them):

Deep Cleansing Furniture Oil

  • Combine 3 parts olive oil and 1 part vinegar (using proportions specified below) in a glass or ceramic container.
  • Apply the polish with a soft polishing cloth. Do not rub it in too hard but leave it to soak in.
  • Allow to air dry.

Regular Cleaning Furniture Oil

  • Combine the 2 cups olive oil and 1 lemon worth of juice in a glass or ceramic container.
  • Apply with a soft polishing cloth.
  • Use the soft cloth to shine the furniture by rubbing briskly.
  • Allow to air dry if it hasn't already through buffing.

Note: Always test on a small, inconspicuous spot to ensure that it's compatible with your individual piece. If you have a rare or expensive piece, you may want to consult an expert before applying any type of finish.

Wood photo from HardWoodFlooringInspectors
Olive oil photo from

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