Wood is a porous, natural material comprised of natural fibres that can bend, stretch and breathe. The older wood becomes, the more these pores and fibres loosen, allowing for more opportunity for moisture and dirt to seep into its surfaces. When it comes to antique wood furniture, it is absolutely essential to minimize the damaging effects caused by dirt particles and moisture.
Depending on the type of finish of the wood (placed above the top layer of the wood, to stain or seal the wood), the piece of antique furniture may still soak up any used product or moisture coming in contact with the surface.
This is one of the main reasons why antique dealers will always suggest to using an oil-based solution instead of wax.
Wax can actually seal dirt into the wood while an oil-based solution helps in loosening the dirt and in bringing it to the surface for removal.
There are three basic points to run you through that will have you well on your way towards caring for your antique piece of furniture.
1. Removing the effect of moisture :
Once moisture enters the wood, not only does it weaken the fibres of the wood by softening them, it can also leave white spots on the surface of your furniture which tend to be unsightly. Depending on the severity of the damage these marks may be removed.
To do so begin by placing a heavy piece of office-grade ink blotting paper available at any stationery store over the affected area. Iron on a low heat over the affected area. This
will cause the excess moisture to be drawn into the blotting paper.
2. Removal of dirt :
Let’s begin by saying, nobody likes dirt.
Furniture that has been stored for many years will more often than not have lots of dirt and grime both on and within its surfaces. Removal of the dirt without scratching the delicate, aged wood is the secret here. A vacuum cleaner without any attachments on the hose can be used along with a paintbrush to take off large pieces of dirt without causing any damage.
After the first step you should apply a layer of furniture oil. Be generous in doing so. Apply evenly over all parts. Allow it to sit on the furniture for a while. Make sure when you apply the oil you do so in the same direction as the grain on the wood with the help of a soft paintbrush, once again to avoid damaging the furniture.
After a while, preferably overnight, use a clean old sock on your hand and gently massage the extra oil along the grain of the wood. Using a sock allows you to cover all areas well, including curved and carved areas.
Lastly use an old discarded t-shirt to remove all excess oil and grime. The process is time consuming but the results are positive. Just remember not to be in any sort of a rush when you do so. Pay attention to all the affected areas.
3. Removal of odor :
To remove any odor from wooden drawers or cabinets, traditional methods are best stuck to. Use a mix of coffee
grounds and rice solution. (sprinkle dry coffee grounds in the drawers and cabinets, after a while do the same with rice ) Let the mixture sit for about a week or so. Later just vacuum it all off.
Depending upon the strength of the smell, the process may need to be repeated. Stubborn odors such as tobacco or mildew, may need the use of lemon oil or orange oil on a regular basis but heck if it works its worth the time and effort.