Weekend Projects

If You Have Wood Furniture, Here’s One Annual Cleaning Task You Can’t Skip

published Dec 11, 2020
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Credit: Sandra Rojo

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

I bet you dust your wooden furniture. Maybe not as often as you think you should, but pretty regularly nonetheless. You’re probably pretty eager to get rid of the film of dust that shows up if you don’t, and it doesn’t take much time or effort to run a duster over your dresser, bed frame, bookshelves, and whatever other wood graces your home.

Polishing wood, on the other hand, might feel like an old-fashioned task from the days of yore. It sounds familiar, but you’re not actually sure if you really need to do it and you’re even less sure of how to go about it.

Here’s the long and short of it: You should polish your wood furniture, it’s probably not as hard as you think, and it might actually be kind of fun. Even wood that’s finished needs periodic polishing. This weekend you’re going to get it done.

Credit: Anna Spaller

This Weekend: Condition your wood furniture.

One way to tell whether your wood is thirsty for polish is if it doesn’t shine like it used to. What happens is that over time and many cleanings, the polish actually wears off the surface. (In fact, if you regularly dust with a dry cloth, your dusting could be causing harm to your wood even as you’re visibly removing dust from it. Rather than a dry rag, use a damp microfiber cloth or a microstatic duster that lifts dust.)

Even if you’re diligently dusting, your furniture could use the extra special treatment of polish, whether you have pieces that need a more comprehensive polish, or they’re due for their intermittent spa day with more general products like Old English or Pledge.

Polishing wood certainly keeps your wood in good condition, but the benefits reach beyond the practical and now is the best time to reap them. Not only will you be giving your wooden furniture the upkeep it needs to restore it to or maintain its good condition, but you’ll make your house smell really nice while doing it and afterwards.

Furthermore, the polishing itself is relaxing. Use the opportunity, as you polish your wooden pieces, to be in the moment, to notice the smell, the repetitive motion of buffing the polish in, and the firm, steady feel of the wood beneath your hands as you make it look beautiful.

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Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.