How to clean (really) dirty wooden furniture

Just like all of us, wooden furniture needs a bit of TLC to stay in tip-top condition

Man cleaning a wooden table

A filthy wooden dinner table is really just a rich tapestry of your household’s meal times. Although we’re not sure how many tapestries are built with flung fistfuls of mashed potato or elbowed glasses of strawberry squash… 

But it’s where you spend time with your loved ones, so it’s a mess full of memories. When you do need to clean dirty wooden furniture, though, it’s good to have some natural solutions up your sleeve. Not only is the decision to clean wooden furniture naturally better for the environment, but it can also be gentler on your furniture as well.  

Before you try any of these methods, always test your products on small, discrete areas of the wood to ensure it doesn’t react badly or affect the wood’s colour. Here’s how to clean varnished wooden furniture and care for wooden tables and cabinets naturally. 

Solution 1: Clean dirty wooden furniture with just water, vinegar and olive oil

This cleaning solution is great to freshen up and gently clean varnished wooden furniture. Olive oil adds moisture and shine to wood, while vinegar cuts through sticky grease and acts as a mild disinfectant. And whilst you’ve probably spilt these over your table at various points – it’s the mixture that we’re interested in.

You'll need:

  • 250ml water
  • 250ml vinegar
  • 1tbsp olive oil

Mix these together into a spray bottle, and you’re good to go! Remember to give it a good shake before and during use as the oil will separate quickly. And also remember to check the lid is secure before giving it that shake. You’re welcome. 

Solution 2: Polish and clean wooden furniture with lemon juice

This solution is similar to the first, except it replaces water with lemon juice. Not only will brighten up and care for wooden tables and chairs, but it’ll also make your furniture smell summery and fresh! Make as much as you need using this ratio of ingredients: 

  • 2 parts vinegar
  • 2 parts olive oil
  • 1 part lemon juice

As with the first solution, you can mix these ingredients in a spray bottle, or in a bowl if the amount you’re making won’t fit into a spray bottle, and get cleaning!

Clean a wooden table with your homemade furniture cleaner

Now you’ve got your natural cleaning solution at the ready – it’s up to you which solution you use. You’re going to want to test it in an inconspicuous area before using it all over your table. This step is super important – we don’t want to risk giving your furniture a unique new finish! 

  1. Give the item a wipe down with water to remove any crusted dirt. We don’t want any of last night’s tuna salad still stuck to the surface! Polish it off with a strong, dry paper towel. You can also fold the paper towel into a stiff point to clear out any narrow angles where dirt always seems to collect. 
  2. Spray your chosen solution over the surface or dip a piece of kitchen paper into a bowl of your mixture.
  3. Start polishing the table, rubbing large circles with a piece of moistened kitchen paper, going with the grain of the wood. 
  4. Go over the surface of the table again with a dry piece of kitchen paper to absorb any remaining solution. You can also use this paper to buff the furniture if you want to add some shine. 
  5. Pay attention to any corners and narrow angles where excess solution might collect. Again, fold your paper towel into a point to get into all the hard-to-reach areas.


Choose a strong and absorbent paper towel to clean your table most effectively. Plenty Kitchen Towels are not only super absorbent, but also strong enough to scrub and wring out as you clean.

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There we go – it’s that easy to clean wooden furniture naturally. So next time your loved one slops a bowl of tomato soup over the newly-cleaned table, take a deep breath. The important thing is that they’re round that table with you!

If you loved this guide, why not check out our 6-part guide on eco-friendly house cleaning.

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