Cleaning old oak furniture

Oak is one of the top five most frequently used woods in furniture making, along with cherry, maple, mahogany and walnut, according to the Buying Oak Furniture website. Whether you inherited a beautiful piece of oak furniture or were lucky enough to find an old piece at a flea market or garage sale, it is not difficult to clean the old furniture. Oak furniture has beautiful warm, gold tones, attractive woods grains and is meant to last. The furniture will look beautiful for years to come if given the proper care and cleaning.

Dust the furniture piece with a feather duster or clean, soft cloth.

Mix together 1 gallon of hot water, 2 tbsp of gum turpentine and 4 tbsp of boiled linseed oil, according to the Utah State University Cooperative Extension website.

Put on rubber gloves. The solution will be quite hot.

Dip a clean, soft cloth into the mixture and wring it out.

Rub the entire surface of the wood furniture with the mixture, paying close attention to any stains or discoloured areas. The turpentine will dissolve grimy residue, wax build-up and clean the surface of the wood while the linseed oil will restore the lustre to the wood.

Moisten a soft cloth with white spirit (paint thinner).

Rub the wood with the cloth in a circular motion.

Repeat the method on stubborn areas with heavy wax build-up or dirty stains. Allow the furniture to air dry.


You can find white spirit, boiled linseed oil and gum turpentine at a hardware or home supply store.

Things You'll Need

  • Feather duster
  • Soft, clean cloth
  • Gum turpentine
  • Boiled linseed oil
  • White spirit
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About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.