The removal of dirt and dust buildup can be difficult depending on the severity. Some furniture cleaning calls for the use of turpentine or linseed oils. Finding and identifying the proper tools, materials and equipment needed for your unique piece of furniture can be stressful and can end up in a disaster. Utilizing professionals for help in cleaning of your furniture can be a great idea and will allow you to have your very own family heirloom that you can share amongst your loved ones for generations.
Handing your antiques furniture over to trained professionals is never a bad idea to keep your piece looking perfect for years to come. No two pieces are the exact same and they should never be treated as such. Each item is applied with finishing waxes to promote that luxurious shine!
Brass was used in furniture, house hold decoration and hardware in olden times as it resembled gold. An antique brass piece in your home is a novelty and taking proper care of it will render it an heirloom for generations to come. Solid brass can withstand acid cleaning and brass polishing but a brass coated metal will change color and look like copper.
The easiest way to find out is to use a magnet, if it sticks then it is a brass plated metal. But sometimes the plating can be on a non magnetic metal. To be sure use a knife in a region which is not visible and press down. If there is a yellow scratch than the metal is brass, otherwise it can be any other metal. Use a small brush if you have to in hard to reach places such as carvings, etc. Use a soft cloth and go over your brass antique furniture. Rub the solution on to the brass using a cloth until the discoloration is reduced or the spots removed. If your antique furniture has wooden parts, avoid contact of acid with wood. Once you are done use a cloth soaked in plain water, with the excess wrung out, to remove any remains of the acid solution. If the solution is left in contact with brass for a long time it can cause damage to lacquered brass and non lacquered brass will discharge copper. Another important tip is that not to use mild acid solution on your brass on a weekly basis.
You can polish it regularly but keep the acid cleaning for once or twice a season. Usually polishing well will give you the desired look. If your furniture is brass plated instead of solid brass, go for a regular metal polish instead of brass polish. These polishes come with their own instructions, read them before applying. Avoid contact of the polish with any other material.
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Upholstered furniture is both decorative and functional. Whilst it is intended to be a part of an interior decorative scheme, its main role is to provide comfortable seating. Not surprisingly, regular use results in considerable wear and tear. As a result, much antique furniture has been reupholstered, often many times. Even today, it is all too common for upholstered furniture to be stripped down to the frame, old upholstery discarded and replaced with new. The consequence of this is the loss of all original materials and evidence of original techniques. Thus furniture that survives with its original upholstery intact is unusual and often of historical interest.
How to Clean Old Wood Furniture
The main aim of upholstery conservation is to preserve evidence of original materials and techniques. This is not usually compatible with keeping seating furniture in daily use. If you are interested in preserving original upholstery for the future, it is necessary to limit use or forego it altogether. A fragile textile top cover may be protected with thin netting. In both cases, this will prevent further damage but will not be robust enough to withstand use. Upholstery top covers, like other textiles, are particularly susceptible to damage from light. Case or loose covers made of silk, linen or cotton were used historically to prevent expensive upholstery from being damaged by dust and light. These covers were removed for honoured guests and on special occasions. Case covers can be used to protect upholstery textiles from light damage. They are used in many historic houses to protect upholstered furniture during their closed season. Don't be tempted to use heat, for example a hair dryer, to speed the drying as this can cause shrinkage or permanently fix stains. After blotting, stop and consider whether to accept the remaining damage or try to remove more stain. If in doubt, limit your remedy to blotting and consult an upholstery or textiles conservator for further treatment. In some cases it is possible to lightly dampen the surface with water, then blot away as much of the water and stain as possible. This process can be repeated, drying by thoroughly blotting between each stage. However, upholstery is composed of many layers. If water or other liquids are used, it isn't always possible to keep the effects on the layers separate.
You may find that colours in the top cover have run or that tidelines have formed as dirt is drawn up from the lower layers into the textile cover. Both of these problems can be permanent and attempts to remove the stain can simply extended the area of damage.
Antique Furniture Cleaning Service
Many of these techniques were developed in the 19th century and, when applied inappropriately, produce upholstery profiles that are bulky, over-stuffed and historically incorrect. The best way to avoid this common pitfall is to consult someone familiar with historic upholstery and or upholstery conservation. Unfortunately, as interest in historic upholstery is a comparatively recent development, there are few specialist conservators available. It may be helpful to review books on historic interiors, contact one of the larger auction houses or consult museums with large historic furniture collections.
You may find evidence of original upholstery on the chair itself. It may be possible to select an unobtrusive place (usually at the back) and carefully lift a small length of top cover. Look underneath for earlier covers or fragments of earlier covers. Tacks and tack holes can provide evidence about the original upholstery. The earliest tacks were handmade and have faceted heads whilst later machine made tacks have flat heads. Successive generations of upholstery tend to multiply the number of tack holes in the frame (and do considerable damage in the process). Alternatively, a regular pattern of old tack holes may provide evidence of original decorative nailing.
If there is no original upholstery left, then it may be necessary to commission reupholstery. Upholstery conservators often advocate the use of stainless steel staples over traditional tacks as they cause considerably less damage to original frame components than traditional tacks and therefore extend the life of the original frame. Fabric may be specially commissioned for valuable pieces in museums but this is very expensive and not a realistic option for most people. It is worth remembering that the tacks used to fix the top cover are usually nailed well into the wood, and the head of the tack is often deeply impressed into the textile. Trying to lever the tacks out, especially if they have rusted and weakened the textile, is almost certain to tear the fabric. A conservator will be able to minimise damage when removing the cover and will know what cleaning method is most appropriate.
Another problem is that upholstery fabric, when originally fitted, is stretched under tension and then trimmed. If removed, it can be difficult to refit because there is insufficient fabric remaining to allow it to be retensioned. It is worth remembering that drop-in seat frames should be returned to their original chair. Frames are not interchangeable within sets. It is common to find that top covers on drop-in seats have been added one after the other, sometimes with addition of a layer of wadding.
You may be lucky and find the original cover and profile is still intact underneath. However, if enough layers have been added, the additional bulk acts as a wedge and forces the chair joints apart or breaks the rebate where the seat sits in the frame. Just as discovering lovely furniture in a grandparent's attic can be like uncovering treasure, you'll have to dig through some grime to find the gold beneath. Tougher cleaning problems will require more elbow grease. Furniture oil and polishes made specifically for wood can help you to remove grime and add a beautiful sheen to renew an old finish. If grime has hardened, apply a cleaning product for wood cleaning while carefully using extra fine #0000 steel wool to break up each layer. White water rings can be fixed simply by wiping gently, although black water rings will require sanding to smooth the surface and refinishing to blend with the existing finish. Simply take the nut out of its shell and rub it diagonally into the scratch.
Then, using your fingers, rub it again to warm the area. This will allow for the walnut's oils to soak into the wood. Permanent felt markers are perfect for making scratches and worn edges blend into the wood finish. Use a marker of the same color as the wood on these scratched spots, and wipe any residue away if it gets on finish that is not damaged. Clear nail polish can revive a chipped coat of clear sealant on top of the finish. Apply drops of polish to fill in the chip. When dry, sand the surface with very fine sandpaper so that it's smooth enough to blend with the rest of the finish. Small chips and dings can be filled using a wax stick made to repair wood finishes. They come in different colors so you can choose the one that is closest to your furniture's finish. Overfill the chip, then smooth excess wax off to level the piece's surface using a plastic putty knife or an item with an equally gentle edge. After repair, or if the finish dulls with cleaning, use #0000 steel wool with a wax that matches your furniture. Use a paste wax for a satin finish, or an auto compound polish to bring back a gloss finish. Therefore, wood furnishings should be dusted regularly. Lint-free disposable cloths are wonderful additions to your arsenal of cleaning products as well; these cloths will remove dust without sending it airborne. It blends in old scratches and dings and cleans the wood nicely. If the surface is badly damaged and needs restoration, consult a specialist dealer for advice. Waxing with a good quality polish based on beeswax (not spray polishes), brings out the colour and grain of the wood and provides protection. If the wood has become very dry, the wax will soak in rapidly and should be applied regularly until a good patina has been developed. Normally, wax polish need not be used more than once every few months as too much wax will cause dullness and absorb dust.
How to Clean Brass Antique Furniture
However, request dusting is important using a clean, dry, soft duster. This will encourage a hard skin to form which enhances the patina. If cleaning is neccessary, for example on a dining room table, use a soft damp cloth or a clean chamois leather well wrung out. A weak solution of vinegar diluted in water can be used to clean more thoroughly but only on polished, undamaged wood. After cleaning, wipe again with a clean cloth rinsed in clear water and dry immediately with absorbent paper or a soft dry cloth. Spillages and wet rings left by glasses should be dealt with as soon as possible. Always allow areas that have become wet to dry thoroughly, which may take up to a week, before applying clear wax. If wax is applied while the wood is still damp more will be absorbed on the damp patch than the surrounding area and will then darken, leaving the appearance of an ink stain. Always work on a small area first in order to be sure the process is not damaging the surface. Candlewax can be lifted off in a slab when cold or can be warmed with a hot-water bottle wrapped in a clean cloth and then removed with a fingernail. Brass mounts and handles should not be polished with metal cleaners which can harm the wood around them and remove any water gilding. A light burnishing while dusting should be enough to keep them bright. The gold finish on ormolu (gilded bronze) is very delicate and should not be polished. It should be handled as little as possible, as the acid in fingerprints can damage gilding, but it can be dusted gently with a soft brush. Upholstery should be vacuumed regularly to guard against a build-up of dust and pests. Basements and attics are a perfect place for mold and mildew to grow. Unfortunately, these are also the most common places people like to store their antique wooden furniture. Antique wood furniture is prone to mold and mildew if not properly taken care of. Every year, antique furniture is ruined by this naturally-occurring event.
You should remove mold and mildew from antique furniture to keep the furniture from being permanently damaged. Place the furniture in sunlight to dry quickly. Mold and mildew loves moisture and you need to be sure the antique furniture is dry before you remove mold and mildew from antique furniture. Stir without agitating it until it becomes soapy from the laundry detergent. Wring and twist the excess solution out of the cloth and begin to wipe the furniture down with the mold and mildew removing cleaner. Use a soft brush and/or toothbrush to reach into the seams and wood working construction of the antique furniture. Monitor the furniture so that it does not sit untreated for too long after it has been cleaned of mold and mildew.
Let the furniture stand for 15 minutes before wiping any excess oil off the wood's surface with a clean rag. Rub into the crevices and corners that trap extra oils until the entire piece is evenly coated. The deep, almost red color of mahogany makes it a favored choice for furnishings and interior woodwork. Mahogany doesn't come from just one type of tree but rather from a variety of tropical trees that produce knot-free, slightly red wood. Proper polishing brings out the natural luster in the wood. A wax polish may make mahogany shine, but eventually it builds up too deeply and instead dulls the wood. Correct polishing methods remove the old residue before replacing it with a new coat. Dust the mahogany piece once weekly with a soft dusting cloth, such as a microfiber duster. Dust immediately before polishing so no dust residue is on the furniture. Combine equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar onto the mahogany surface and rub it in with a soft cloth or chamois cloth. The vinegar cuts through any oil or old wax on the surface and brings out the natural luster of the wood.
Basic Care and Maintenance for Antique Furniture —
Place a dab of clear paste furniture wax on a soft polishing cloth. Most paste waxes are made from either beeswax or carnauba wax. Rub the paste wax into the mahogany surface. Use a circular buffing motion to work the wax into the wood and bring out a high shine. Wipe the excess wax from the mahogany with a clean cloth. Older iodine that has turned brown works better for darker mahogany finishes. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening. Years ago a client of mine purchased a dining room suite at an auction. It had seen better days to be sure and she was understandably concerned about the high cost of having the suite professionally re-finished.
I suggested an alternative – to clean and re-coat the finish without stripping it. Certain parts of your furniture will have a greater build-up than others. For example, chairs will be their grimiest at the top of the chair rail or on the arms where hands are placed. Don’t use this technique on pieces that you know to be very old or valuable. The build up of grime, if rather evenly distributed, hardens with age and can be quite beautiful. This is called patina and it should not be removed. Just don’t add more wax or the piece will look dull. Save this technique for pieces that are most commonly available and for furniture that will be thrown away if it doesn’t look better. Practise on a piece of wood or furniture that you don’t care about.
This technique works best on pieces of furniture that have their original varnished finish intact. Use a fan for ventilation if you are not doing this outdoors. Dip one corner of the sponge scrubber into the solution of ammonia, soap and water. Be careful doing this or the drips will make a mess on the section of furniture you have not yet cleaned. Start by gently scrubbing the furniture starting from the bottom of the piece (legs or feet) and working your way up. Remember the point of this exercise is to dissolve grime so you need to give the solution time to work. As the grime melts wipe the residue off with a clean cloth.
Your cloth will tell you how well the work is progressing. If there is very little grime on the cloth you may have furniture that really does not need much cleaning or your solution is too weak.
You can experiment by adding a bit more ammonia, however don’t add too much or you may remove the finish – especially in parts where the finish is already very thin. It is important that the original finish be clean of wax, oils, soot and nicotine otherwise the final product will not stick to the furniture. Once the piece has been thoroughly cleaned rinse it with a solution of water and vinegar and wipe dry. Your furniture may look dull at this point but that will change.
Caring for Upholstery
It is not necessary to soak the entire pad – you need just enough to wipe onto the clean wood surface. Wipe the pad onto the furniture, working with the grain of the wood. Immediately wipe the excess with a clean cloth. Replace your wiping cloth when it gets too dirty. Let dry at least a week if you intend to wax the piece. This is an example of the before and after effects of cleaning 100 year old millwork with this technique. It means that you will have to build up the finish in those dull areas. Also have some millwork that could use this technique. Also when working on a large surface you must work fast and do it in chunks with the grain of the wood.
I really would be sick if my table and chairs wound up forever sticky. The internet offers a wide range of advice for cleaning and refinishing vintage furniture from complicated finish stripping to techniques that only work on certain kinds of wood — and there are enough products on the market to leave a person totally confused. The steps below will work on any kind of finished wood, but results will depend on the shape of the original piece. The furniture won't necessarily be back to perfect shape, but it will look (and smell) a whole lot better. For an expensive antique or seriously damaged piece, you may want to consider consulting a professional furniture restorer before doing anything yourself.
Restore Filthy Antique Wood and Furniture Fast and Simple
Be careful not to get the piece too wet — wipe down with a dry rag if there is a lot of water left on the surface. Repeat until rags no longer pick up any grime. If there is still dirt or paint stuck to the piece, rub it gently with very fine #0000 steel wool in the direction of the wood grain. Spray the orange oil on a dry cloth and rub it over the piece. If any oil remains sitting on the surface, rub it with a clean, dry cloth and buff to a shine. Results vary depending on the original condition and quality of the piece.