How to Clean an Oak Table

Updated February 21, 2017

Oak furniture can be a beautiful addition to any home. The smooth appearance and earthy colour of oak contributes to many decor designs, adding a personality to any home. Proper cleaning can be difficult, as many chemical cleaning products can damage or warp the wood. Take care of your oak table with constant cleaning and oiling to keep it looking beautiful.

Dampen a soft cloth with teak oil or Danish oil. Do not use plain water, as it can seep into the wood and ruin the grain.

Wipe away surface dirt and grime with the damp cloth. The oil will also help to keep the shine on the wooden surface of your table.

Massage butter or margarine into any surface marks, such as rings from a glass. Let the butter sit on the mark for at least eight hours, generally overnight. Wipe it clean with a soft sloth.

Mix olive oil and cigarette ashes together in a bowl until they form a grey paste. Spread this paste over any difficult stains or water marks that cannot be removed by an application of butter. Allow the paste to sit overnight. Wipe clean.

Rub wood polish onto your oak table using a soft cloth after any cleaning efforts. Cleaning, especially if you use cigarette ashes, will dull the shine of the furniture; the polish will keep the wood looking healthy.

Determine the cause of the sticky stain on your wooden table. If it is a stain caused by use, such as spilt soda or maple syrup, use regular cleaning techniques. However, wood finish that is worn from wear and tear can form a sticky, discolouring film on the surface of the table; this requires special cleaning.

Mix one part of white vinegar and one part of water in a bowl. Soak a soft cloth in the solution and wipe the surface of the table. You can scrub at sticky parts, but don't push so hard as to leave marks.

Replace vinegar with dish detergent if the vinegar fails to remove the stains. Wipe it down with a clean cloth dampened by clean water.

Purchase Murphy's Oil Soap from a convenience store or hardware store if the stain persists. This cleaner can be diluted with water or rubbed directly onto the surface with a soft cloth.

Wipe residual stickiness and cleaner from the table with a clean cloth and clean water. Apply wood wax or finish to protect the table.


Clean any spills or stains from the oak table as soon as possible. Oak is fairly resistant to staining if you can clean up soon after it happens. However, if a spill has a chance to soak into the grain of the wood, it can permanently damage your furniture. Applying furniture wax every two to three months will help maintain the grain and durability of your oak table.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth
  • Teak oil or Danish oil
  • Butter or margarine
  • Wood polish
  • Cigarette ashes
  • Olive oil
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Dish detergent
  • Murphy's Oil Soap
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.