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How to Maintain Antique Home Furniture- 13 Tips

How to Maintain Antique Home Furniture- 13 Tips 

Old is gold is the adage, however only if it’s well taken care of. Even though you have valuable antique home furniture it remains your pride only if it’s well maintained. So if you have some vintage furniture at home, these tips should help you take good care of it to ensure it remains in good shape.

1. Keep it away from heat and other harmful elements

Keep your furniture somewhere safe away from excessive heat, direct sunlight, and moisture. These three elements can do lots of damage to your furniture. It’s recommended to maintain a constant level of humidity of about 40-60% at home because inconsistent humidity can loosen the furniture joints. Sunlight, on the other hand, leads to fading of color and cracking in the finishing.

2. Annual paste wax

Your antique home furniture needs a coating of paste wax every year. This helps add sheen to the furniture while protecting against moisture and pollutants. A little bit of good-quality wax like Minwax or expensive English beeswax is more than enough.

Softly rub the wax according to the wood grain till there’s a deeply layered finish on it. However, don’t forget to remove any excess wax once done to prevent its accumulation on the furniture.

3. Use the right oil

Don’t use just any oil to clean your antique wood furniture. Murphy’s Oil Soap is ideal for cleaning dirty furniture. Just follow the bottle instructions and you are good to go. However no matter how much you are tempted; avoid using linseed and lemon oils because they only end up coating the wood which in turn attracts dirt. Also avoid using Pledge or any spray furniture cleaning products because it contains silicone, which leaves a difficult to remove film coating on the furniture.

4. Avoid using anything rough

Don’t use anything with a rough texture on the furniture as it ends up scratching it. Even feather dusters are a no-no because broken feathers are similar to tiny sticks which end up spoiling the surface. Instead, use a very soft cloth like cheesecloth to wax the furniture. Use a little wax and rub gently after spreading a thin and even coat on the furniture.

5. Save bits and pieces

Waxing should be done with care as it’s highly possible that pieces of veneer or inlay may come loose. Save any pieces that come off because they are irreplaceable and substitutes are difficult to find. Do not try repairing it yourself by gluing it back on. Safely keep the pieces and carry it to a wood expert to restore to your furniture.

6. Don’t forget to remove dust before using cleaners

While this is second nature to many, there are lots of people who forget to dust their furniture before waxing it. Failing to do so only leads to the dust ending up trapped under the wax layer.

7. Don’t polish metal hardware

Antique home furniture usually has some metal ornaments or hardware on it like brass knobs or keyholes and other similar decorations. Though it’s tempting, don’t polish them using any metal-cleaning product or polish as it may damage the wood underneath.

It’s better to carefully dust the ornaments or hardware a few times a year. In case the piece is very badly tarnished, remove the hardware and then polish with a polish appropriate for it and replace.

8. Use a humidifier

Humidifiers are a must in dry houses or apartments, especially during winter. It’s required because wood tends to shrink or swell and end up splitting or wrapping due to temperature and humidity changes.

This can be avoided by preventing extreme temperatures, and ensuring the wood doesn’t dry or become too damp. Keep checking the back of the furniture like the pieces against the wall for signs of mold and mildew. Wipe off any signs of mold with a soft cloth dipped and wrung in a very dilute (10:1) solution of water and bleach of household bleach.

9. Wipe off spills

All spills and stains have to be immediately blotted up. Do not rub or scrub it as blotting safely absorbs the liquid. Keep blotting with a clean towel or paper towel till most liquid is absorbed.

Always act as quickly as possible otherwise the stain may set permanently and destroy the fabric. It’s better to call a good furniture restorer in case of major spills and serious scratches instead of trying out risky household remedies.

10. Dry vacuuming

It’s good to gently dry vacuum the antique home furniture surface periodically to prevent dust and dirt from settling onto its fibers. While you may alternatively use a soft and dry brush, don’t use dust rags as its loose threads may catch on, and pull the veneer pieces off.

11. Deep cleaning

You can use cleaning foam meant for use on upholstery to remove any accumulated dirt and grime. However first try the foam on an indiscreet part of the furniture to ensure it’s safe to use on it, and there’s no discoloration. Follow foam instructions and use only clean towels to dab and not rub or scrub the surface.

12. No dry heating

Do not try drying the antique upholstery with heat as it only shrinks the fibers and causes permanent damage. A better and safer alternative is to use fans to let it naturally dry. Make sure the furniture is thoroughly dried before you start using it.

13. Leave it to the pros

If you don’t have the time or are not so confident with the proper cleaning techniques for your antique furniture, then it’s better to leave things to the pro. Doing the wrong thing can only lead to problems and devalue your furniture’s value. This is especially important when it comes to repairs.

It may look like an easy fix, but just squirting glue on joints is not always enough. In fact, crude and inefficient repair work conducted by amateurs only devalues your furniture. It’s better not repairing it at all, or even better still, entrusting the job to a repair or restoration expert.

While these tips can help you clean and maintain your valuable antique home furniture, sometimes hiring a professional may be a better alternative. After all, this furniture has sentimental values, and are so delicate that it’s wiser having it professionally cleaned using the right cleaning techniques and equipment.

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