What's best at taking off years of dirt?

Cleaning Old Wood Furniture

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A 100-Year-Old Piano

We just received my mom's 100-year-old piano and are unsure how to care for it. My parents were smokers so I assume there is a smoke build-up on it. I don't know how to tell how heavy the wax build-up is, but the surface is dull. What would be best for the initial cleanup and what would work best for upkeep?

Murphy's Oil Soap Cleans Old Furniture

Murphy's Oil Soap is your answer. It cleans off years of accumulated dirt and grease and refreshes the wood. I used it on an old Hoosier cabinet I thought needed refinishing and changed my mind when I was done because it looked great. Wonderful on wood floors.

Homemade Recipe

Here is a recipe a friend gave me to renew a buffet I got from my mother. I am also going to use it on my cabinets this spring. I would think you would need ventilation.

To clean or polish:

1/3 cup Boiled Linseed Oil
1/3 cup Turpentine
1/3 cup White Vinegar

Mix in glass jar and shake before using. Pour on soft cloth and apply. Wipe dry with soft cloth.
This is very combustible so dispose of used cloths outside.

Formby's Furniture Cleaner Not Fast But Works on Wood

There is a product on the market called Formby's Furniture Cleaner. I've taken pieces from almost black to beautiful golden oak with this stuff. It isn't fast, but it's great. Once you get it clean, put a thin coat of paste wax on it. Get a new can, so it's real pliable. This will fill in the open spaces in the old wood, and you're good to go.

Old English Restores Beautifully

The first job would be to determine if the dullness is really the wood or if it's a varnish finish. For wood cleaning, Old English lemon oil takes care of almost everything. Get plenty or rags ready though. It's the polishing afterwards that will make the piano shine! Touch-ups with Old English furniture stain will restore the wood beautifully also.

Related: Fixing up Furniture the Frugal Way

Kramer's Best Antique Improver Worth Its Weight in Gold

The best product I've found to rejuvenate furniture is Kramer's Best Antique Improver. It works great to bring life back to old furniture and cover nicks and scratches in woodwork, cabinetry, etc. It's not lemon oil or scratch cover; the literature says it works by re-moisturizing old wood. It's kind of pricey, about $19.99 for an 8-0z bottle, but worth it's weight in gold. Generally, you find it online, flea markets and antique shops.

Reviewed February 2018

Take the Next Step

  • Use these tips to restore old wood furniture.
  • Never overspend for store-bought cleaners again. Use The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Homemade Cleaners to find frugal, effective recipes for keeping your entire house and laundry clean and fresh.
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