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How To Clean a Wood Coffee Table

How To Clean a Wood Coffee Table

There’s nothing quite like a luxe, wood coffee table. The living room is supposed to be a homey, comfortable room that helps you relax with a down-to-earth atmosphere. And few things help create this vibe, like a beautiful wooden coffee table. 

Like anything in your house, coffee tables get dirty much faster than you’d want them to. You may be tempted to use your everyday cleaner and a rag and call it good. But these fine wood tables need a bit more care than just that. 

So let’s talk about how to properly clean wooden coffee tables. You want your favorite accent furniture to last you for years to come, and if you follow these steps, you’ll get as much life out of this thing as you can. 

Let’s get started. 

Upkeep, Care, and Prevention

The most important thing when it comes to cleaning your wood coffee table or end table is keeping it clean in the first place.

Here are some best practices you should implement to keep that table spick and span:

Avoid the Heat

It should come as no surprise that super hot temperatures and wood aren’t the best of friends. This especially goes for wood coffee tables. High temperatures can not only damage the finish of the wood, but they can even damage the wood itself. 

So if you’re going to be drinking a cup of coffee or hot tea, be absolutely certain that you’ve got a coaster to put your mug on. If you’re going to be eating a hot meal or a bowl of soup, make sure you use a placemat so that the dish doesn’t come in direct contact with the wood. 

If the finish or wood gets damaged in this way, it can’t simply be cleaned off. It needs to be taken to a professional to repair, so it’s best to avoid this situation in the first place. 

Mind Your Pets

Cats and dogs love to chew or scratch things. It’s just a part of life. And sometimes, your furniture is their toy of choice. Still, when you have a well-crafted wooden coffee table, the damage from chewing and scratching becomes super obvious and difficult to repair. 

Keep an eye on your pets at all times (to the best of your ability, of course). If you know your pet is a whirlwind of furniture damage, make sure they have a scratching post or chew toy that they can use so your furniture can stay safe. 

Keep Food and Drink to a Minimum

Spills, stains, and heat damage are the biggest culprit of coffee table damage and dirtiness. If you’ve got a coffee table you want to protect, the best course of action is to avoid food and drink on it altogether. 

Unfortunately, that sort of defeats the purpose and functionality of a coffee table. A solid compromise is to keep it to a minimum. Maybe you only eat and drink around the coffee table for special occasions like parties or family gatherings. Come up with a system that works for you, meets your needs, and makes you happy.

Careful of Too Much Light

Too much light can also cause damage to your wood furniture. It can cause the color and finish to fade. If possible, keep your coffee table out of direct sunlight to extend its lifespan.

Humidity and Temperature

Wood is at the mercy of the elements in more ways than one. Sudden changes in humidity and temperature can cause the wood to warp and distort, and once the damage is done, it’s impossible to undo. Keep your home’s temperature and humidity consistent to avoid damage. 

Regular Cleaning

Next up, clean your coffee table regularly. If you let dirt, oils, and spills sit on your coffee table for long periods of time, it can damage the finish and the table itself. 

Weekly Dusting and Wipe Downs

As a general rule, it’s smart to give your wooden coffee table a proper dusting and wipe-down at least once a week. This will keep dirt and debris from building up so the wood and finish can stay healthy. 

For this, use a microfiber rag or towel and a cleaning solution. For the cleaning solution, you can use whatever general multisurface cleaner you have on hand. If you want to go gentle and natural, you can also make a cleaning solution at home.

Here are two different solutions to try: 

To make a vinegar and water solution, simply mix four parts water and one part white vinegar. Spray bottles work best for this mixture. For the second solution, simply mix some warm water with a drop or two of dish soap. 

After cleaning, make sure you dry your table completely. Moisture left on the table can damage the surface.

Spot Cleaning

If you spill anything on your coffee table, clean it up as soon as you notice it. Don’t let anything linger on your table for too long. The longer a spill stays on the table, the worse the stain will become. 

When spills happen, take your cleaning solution and rag that we mentioned above and clean them off. Once again, ensure the table gets dried to avoid damage. 

Polish and Shine

The standard weekly cleaning for wood coffee tables really isn’t very different from cleaning other types of coffee tables. Where the care differs is that you need to polish your wood regularly to maintain the finish and keep your wood protected. 

The finish of your wood, whether it’s lacquer, a wax finish, an oil finish, or even paint, acts as a protective layer for the wood. However, this layer will wear down over time naturally. To keep this barrier strong, polish it up (it also helps it look amazing). 

Believe it or not, you have everything you need to polish your furniture right in your home. To make your polish, simply mix a quarter cup of white vinegar with a quarter cup of either olive oil or vegetable oil. 

The oil creates a thin protective layer on the wood, but it also nourishes the wood to keep it healthy. Use a small amount of this solution and rub it all over the wooden coffee table to buff and shine it. Just make sure you test it out on an unseen area of the wood first to check that you like the look of it. 

Stain Removal

Finally, let’s talk about those pesky, pesky stains. You’re going to need to know how to remove stains from wood, especially if you have a bunch of little ones running around. 

Light Stains

If you’ve got some light stains on your wood furniture, you’re in luck because that means they’re easy to remove and haven’t penetrated too deep into the finish or the wood. Light stains include water rings and other mild marks on your wood. 

You’ll need a rag and some toothpaste to clean these off. Yes, you read that right!

A simple white toothpaste (not the gel kind or whitening kind) will get the job done. Simply apply some of the toothpaste with a rag, spreading it over the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then remove the toothpaste with a clean rag. The stain should come right off. 

Dark Stains

If a stain on your wood coffee table looks dark, it likely means that the stain has gone past the wood finish and into the wood itself. Unfortunately, these stains are difficult to remove. You can do it by yourself, but it’s a lot of work, so it’s best to take it to a professional. 

To remove dark stains, you’ll have to completely strip the whole furniture piece of its finish and then refinish it. If you try to simply strip and refinish the one spot, you’ll just have a bigger stain on your hands. 

Take a heavy grit sandpaper or a stripping tool and remove the finish from the wood. Sand down the wood until the stain is no longer there, and then grab your favorite wood finish and refinish your coffee table. 

Again, if you’re not comfortable doing this, take it to a professional to have this process done. 

Keeping Your Furniture Happy

Cleaning your wood coffee table isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you’re careful around it, wipe it down regularly, clean up spills right away, and polish it a few times a year, your coffee table will stay clean and healthy for years to come. 

For more information about furniture, head to eLuxury


Cleaning, Repairing, and Reconditioning Wood Furniture | Utah State University

How to Care for Your Furniture | North Carolina Museum of History

How to Safely Clean Your Furniture | American Camp Association

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