Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Tips for Antique Furniture

Whether you call it green cleaning, eco cleaning, or environmentally friendly cleaning, cleaning with fewer chemicals helps the environment and our health.  It's a responsible, sustainable way of cleaning, in an age where it is more important for us to take care of the planet than ever before.

Unless you've hidden away from social media and television over the last few months, you're likely to have heard of Mrs Hinch and her cleaning tips. Featured on This Morning, and an Instagram star, she uses a wide range of cleaning products but many of them are full of contaminants and toxins that aren't great for the environment, or indeed to breathe in. We are huge advocates of chemical free cleaning and try our best to keep our furniture looking it's best with as few toxins as possible. When these pieces of furniture were made, they were cleaned using very simple, cost effective methods, so getting back to basics is where we need to start!

The most important thing to remember with maintaining your antique furniture, is to prevent dirt and dust from building up by regularly brushing and dusting.

Cleaning using natural methods


What basic items clean naturally?

White Vinegar - loosens dirt and grime, and deodorises.

Lemon Juice - cuts through grease and disinfects.

Cotton Scraps - a soft, gentle fabric, you can recycle old bed sheets, t-shirts etc. Just rip or cut them into the desired size.

Newspaper - recycle your old newspaper for cleaning glass and mirrors.

Beeswax - liquid or solid, polishes wood such as oak naturally.

How to clean glass and antique mirrors

We use white vinegar and newspaper to clean any glass and mirrors. White vinegar is deodorising and lifts grime and dirt. Use with a super fine grade 0000 wire wool for a perfect clean. An alternative method is to mix some lemon juice with water in a spray bottle (perfect if you don't like the smell of vinegar) and use up any old newspaper you have. 

How to clean fabric

We always start with using a firm but not abrasive brush to loosen any dirt and dust and to brush as much away as possible. Check the fabric for any loose fibres or tears beforehand, and be aware of these areas before you move onto vacuuming. Washing any textiles can cause a degree of loss, so minimise this as much as possible. Soak up any water spills as much as possible and circulate cool air around the fabric. Avoid using any heat.

How to clean antique wooden furniture

We suggest you brush your furniture regularly with a soft brush or cotton cloth to prevent the build up of dust and dirt. Do not use any synthetic, silcone based products such as furniture polish as they can damage the furniture and cause a build up over time, leaving a residue. If we need to antique furniture with water, we use a very mild detergent to gently clean, ensuring the wood doesn't get too wet. You could also use a wood soap. Leave to dry naturally, or let cool air circulate around it. There are a few methods of polishing, which we will explore in another blog post - for example, beeswax is perfect for polishing antique oak furniture as it nourishes the wood nicely. Olive oil can also be used for some types of wooden furniture, but you should check beforehand.

How to clean wicker furniture

The boho interior is on trend right now, and vintage wicker furniture pieces are key for this look! Wicker has lots of crevices that can gather dust, so we always start by brushing wicker pieces with a soft brush before vacuuming using a soft bristle brush attachment. For any especially hard to reach places, use a soft toothbrush. Use a mild detergent to gently wipe the furniture down, and try not to get it too wet. Dry out in the open if you can, and keep away from any heat sources. Wicker chairs and sofas can sag through use, so turn the seating upside down, place a warm wet towel on the underside of the seat. Allow this to dry overnight, and don't sit on it for the next 48 hours - this will help the wicker shrink slightly to combat sagging.

As with everything, please use your own judgement when using any of these methods, and always carry out your own research beforehand. 

Check out some more cleaning tips taken from 'Polish & Shine' - Recipes of Women's Institute Members and their Ancestors.

'Polish & Shine' - Recipes of Women's Institute Members and their Ancestors.

Explore our blog archive here. 

Kernow Furniture - online store based in Cornwall for vintage, retro & antique furniture, gifts & home accessories and quirky gifts.

May 14, 2019 — Benita Ellis-Kelly

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