How to Care for Lacquered Wood

Written by misty rodriguez
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How to Care for Lacquered Wood
Most pianos are made of lacquered wood. (piano image by Sergey Goruppa from

Lacquer is a beautiful, glossy finish that is used on things like furniture, cabinets and pianos. It is the most widely used furniture finish, and can be traced back 2,000 years to the Chinese, according to Lacquer gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1920s when there was an abundance of cotton from making gunpowder, as cotton is one of the ingredients used when making this type of finish. Lacquered wood doesn't take a lot of work to keep it looking shiny and beautiful; regular preventive maintenance will do just fine.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Soft cotton cloth
  • Razor blade
  • Warm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • Furniture polish

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  1. 1

    Dust your lacquered furniture at least once a week. This helps maintain its beauty and keeps you from having to do more involved cleanings so often. Use a soft cotton cloth to remove the dust, wiping in the direction of the grain.

  2. 2

    Wipe up any food or liquid spills immediately. If you let spills sit on the wood, you could end up with a permanent stain. For sticky spills, you may use a razor blade, but make sure to hold it at an angle to avoid scratching the wood.

  3. 3

    Clean your lacquered wood with a soft cotton cloth, warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Mix the warm water and dish soap together, and then quickly dip the cloth into the mixture. Wring the cloth out as much as possible, as it should be slightly damp and not dripping wet. Rub the cloth all over the wood, going in the direction of the grain. Use a dry cotton cloth to dry the wood completely once you're done. Only do this when it is absolutely needed, as the water and soap will eventually hurt your finish.

  4. 4

    Polish lacquered wood with a cotton cloth. You may use furniture polish, but it could possibly create a problem if you decide to refinish the furniture later. A condition called fish-eye happens when the new finish pools and causes craters because of the oil from the polish underneath it. You should not polish lacquered furniture more than three times a year.

Tips and warnings

  • Use felt underneath objects that may scratch the surface of the wood.
  • Keep your lacquered furniture out of direct sunlight whenever possible. Sunlight changes the colour of wood over time.
  • Avoid using lemon oil on lacquered wood until the finish is at least six months old.
  • Only use rubber or plastic mats that are marked safe for wood; otherwise they may stain or soften the finish.
  • Never mix different types of furniture polish.
  • Avoid using microfiber cloths and paper towels, as they may scratch the finish.

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