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cleaning wood furniture

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Feb 15, 2012, 11:20 AM
cleaning wood furniture
what is the best to clean finished wood furniture .
Feb 15, 2012, 11:38 PM
Well, I find that mineral spirits (which is basically what paint thinner is) works well for cleaning the varnished wood cabinets in kitchens because it cuts through the cooking grease which accumulates on them without harming the varnish at all. Also, mineral spirits evaporates completely without leaving any residue, so you don't have to worry about finding something else to clean the cleaner off.

You can buy commercial wood cleaners, but a lot of them contain Carnauba Wax. They put that stuff in so that it leaves a gloss, but you really don't want to use a product like that on dusty or dirty furniture because you're just going to be burying dirt under a thin layer of wax. If you don't get any better suggestions, you won't do any harm using mineral spirits.

Since I presume you're be doing this indoors, for a few dollars more, you should buy low odor mineral spirits, which is just ordinary mineral spirits with most of the "aromatic hydrocarbons" removed from it. The smell comes from those aromatic hydrocarbons, and so the low odor stuff has much less smell to it.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Nestor,
Aug 22, 2012, 02:24 AM
Can you suggest any particular brand that you use???

This message has been edited. Last edited by: JillNatalie,

exterior wood grain
Aug 23, 2012, 01:11 AM

There is no such thing as "good, better and best" mineral spirits. That's kinda like asking who makes the best distilled water. If every company does the job properly, they should all consist of nothing but water, and so there's no way to claim any one of them is better than any other.

So, if it wuz me, I would go to Wal-Mart where you can be pretty confident of getting a good price and buy a quart or gallon of low odor mineral spirits there:

That web page is incorrect in saying their mineral spirits leaves "minimal residue". The hydrocarbons that boil off of crude oil to form mineral spirits will all evaporate at room temperature to leave behind no residue at all.

You don't need to know the rest...

Mineral spirits are made by distilling crude oil, and what ever vapour comes out of the oil within a certain temperature range are cooled so they condense and the resulting condensate is called "mineral spirits". Lighter oils will yield more mineral spirits and heavier oils will yield less. But, all oils will have the same kinds of molecules boiling off into a vapour within that temperature range, so it's not like any one company's mineral spirits is somehow better than other company's.

That condensate called mineral spirits will consist of two kinds of hydrocarbon molecules, namely "aliphatic hydrocarbons" and "aromatic hydrocarbons".

Aromatic hydrocarbons generally have 5 sided rings or 6 sided "benzene" rings in them, and aromatic hydrocarbons get their name from the fact that they generally smell quite a bit. So, the aromatic hydrocarbons you find in mineral spirits will be these: (and others)

There's an error on that image. The toluene should have ONE methyl group coming off the benzene ring just as every different kind of xylene has two methyl groups coming off the benzene ring. I think there was a line coming off the top of that diagram for "toluene", but I guess someone didn't notice it and cropped it off when they copied the image.

Aliphatic hydrocarbons don't have that ring structure, and generally don't have any smell at all associated with them:

So, to make "Low Odor" mineral spirits, they separate the mineral spirits into aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons, and sell the aliphatic hydrocarbons as "Low Odor" mineral spirits. It takes extra work to do that, so you pay a bit more for low odor mineral spirits.

I have no idea of how they separate the aromatic hydrocarbons from the aliphatic hydrocarbons.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Nestor,
Aug 23, 2012, 08:34 AM
I just use a barely damp microfiber to dust with. Orange Glo to actually clean a finished wood surface, but pump sprayed on the cloth rather than the furniture itself.
Apr 22, 2013, 07:44 AM
I think it really depends on what type of finish was used with the wood furniture. Different finish requires different cleaning. Generally, here are some tips I can share with you in cleaning finished wood.

- You can use cornstarch to recently finished wood. It will absorb excess oil, remove fingerprints and give it just the right shine it needs.

- You can also use tea in cleaning. Dip a cloth and wipe it on your furniture.

- You can use mayonnaise to remove white spots. Simply spread some on the spot, let it stay for around an hour, wipe it and polish it.

Hope this helps. N.S.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: nica_s,
May 01, 2013, 03:38 PM
thanks for the suggestion. Orange glo makes me sneeze but I will tr mineral spirits