Here’s how you can naturally remove wax buildup and get your sticky wood furniture clean again.
If you’ve ever had to peel your arms from the dining table, you may have wondered how to clean sticky wood furniture. It’s such an unpleasant sensation, and simple soap and water do nothing to remove it. It may seem to help at first, but once the surface dries, the stickiness returns. So, why did it get sticky in the first place? The culprit is wax buildup from your spray polish.
Why Wood Furniture Gets Sticky
The furniture polish and dusting sprays we use to give wood surfaces a beautiful shine are also why it develops a sticky residue. Commercial sprays contain silicone, a substance that creates a smooth, reflective surface. Over time, layers of silicone trap humidity and moisture between them which keeps the polish from hardening. Instead, it creates a sticky grime that makes your table and other furnishings look dull and dirty even when you’ve just cleaned them.
If you want to get rid of the sticky feel on your wood furniture, you need to remove the wax buildup. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to scrub as your grandmother did. These days, few people use the heavy furniture wax favored by past generations. A modern commercial furniture polish may attract dust and make your furniture cloudy and sticky, but it’s easy to remove.
How To Remove Sticky Wax Buildup From Furniture
Here are two ways to quickly and inexpensively remove the sticky wax buildup from wood furniture. Use caution and test the solution in an inconspicuous spot first. For antiques, it’s best to see a professional.
- Use a damp microfiber cloth to dust the piece first.
- Apply the spray directly to the surface and follow the grain of the wood. You may want to reapply for stubborn grime, then rub at a right angle to the grain. Use a toothbrush in crevices.
- Let it dry, then repeat if needed. In humid areas, or if you have several layers of wax buildup, you may need to repeat the process. Let the surface completely dry each time before deciding if you need to do it again.
Wax Build-Up Remover For Light Wood
- 1/2 cup warm distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1-2 drops liquid dish detergent
- Add the ingredients to a spray bottle and lightly swirl to combine.
- Spray lightly on the surface to be cleaned. Then, using a soft cloth, rub in the direction of the wood grain. Rotate the material often, so you always work with a clean spot.
- Follow with a clean, damp cloth to rinse, then buff the surface dry.
Wax Build-Up Remover For Dark Wood
The method above works for dark wood, but the technique below will help bring out the wood’s grain and preserve its color.
- 3 black tea bags
- 1 cup hot water
- Steep the black tea bags in the water for ten minutes. Remove bags and allow the liquid to cool.
- Use a clean, lint-free cloth to apply to the furniture, following the grain of the wood. Rub well. Then use a second cloth dipped in the tea and go across the grain.
- Wipe off with a damp cloth and buff dry, then apply homemade furniture polish.
Still Feel Sticky Wax Buildup?
If you’ve repeated the process a couple of times and still feel like there’s a waxy buildup making your wood furniture sticky, the varnish is likely failing. You’ll need to strip the furniture and refinish it with paint, varnish, or lacquer.
To strip the varnish, wipe along the grain with mineral spirits and a soft cloth. This will remove the varnish and take it down to the wood. Once you’ve gone over a section with the mineral spirits, follow with a clean, damp cloth and buff dry. You can pick up mineral spirits at most hardware stores or find it online. Since this is a solvent, you should use it outdoors. Clean the surface with warm, soapy water and a sponge to remove grease and dirt, then let it dry before refinishing.