For antique furniture to remain in the best possible condition, owners are required to take care of and treat the materials that are used to make each piece. By putting effort into the furniture, you will be increasing the lifetime of the piece and ensuring it looks its best, for people to continue to enjoy for many years to come. Items can be brought back to life with a little elbow grease, and some care. Dried wood or tarnished brass can be polished to reveal stunning grains and glistening inlays or handles.
Many of us keep a relatively clean and tidy house, but no matter how often you get the duster out, there will always be some dust left in the house, with much of it resting on your antique furniture. For a day-to-day clean, stick to a soft cloth that has been placed in water and then extremely well wrung out. Use the cloth to wipe over the furniture, removing the dust and then before the furniture has absorbed anything from the damp cloth, gently buffer the piece with a dry and soft cloth.
Pure beeswax polish can be tricky to find, as many alternatives on the market that claim to contain a high level of beeswax, have a very meagre amount. Instead, they are filled with substitute waxes, harmful oils or perfumes, all of which can be extremely damaging to an antique piece. When shopping for your polish, be sure to study the ingredients carefully to ensure that you get the best possible option for your furniture. Try to purchase a polish with the highest or purest level of beeswax you can find, as other types on the market can be harmful to your pieces. Not all antiques will benefit from beeswax, so if you are unsure of whether this will damage the piece, it is best to seek expert advice from an antiques restorer or specialist.
By using a high-quality beeswax, you shouldn’t need to polish your furniture as frequently as you might think, if done effectively and the correct method is followed, you may only need to do it up to three times per year.
Firstly, follow your daily or weekly dusting method, ensuring the furniture is completely dry after it has been cleaned. Then you can begin to apply the beeswax. Using a soft cloth, apply a thin layer of wax, rubbing in the same direction as the grain. Try to ensure the wax has an even coverage across all the furniture. Leave the wax on the antique for as long as possible, from a minimum of five hours to overnight. This allows the wax to treat and nourish the furniture as well as create a hardened, protective layer on the surface. The day after your application, you can begin to polish the surface, removing any access beeswax and forming a shine.
Light and UV rays can damage and age antique furniture in an undesirable way. For example, if you have placed decorative pieces on your 18th-century antique writing desk and the item is placed in a room where the sunlight reaches, it is advisable to regularly rotate the ornaments. Alternatively, you can cover the surface of the desk or move it to a darker room within the house to prevent any marks being created on the piece over time.
Cleaning Routines to Avoid
-Try to stay away from spray cleaners; they usually have an abundance of nasty chemicals that have no benefit to the organic materials that are usually used to make antique furniture. Stick to simply using water when necessary, or a soft dry cloth for everyday dusting.
-Avoid leaving any liquid on the surface of any antique furniture; it can leave unattractive watermarks, as the organic material absorbs the water.
-Stay away from cleaning spirits, these can be extremely abrasive, and over time will considerably damage antique furniture. They may also leak into the material, which can darken woods or lift wax finishes off the surface.
Make beeswax your go-to polish for antique furniture; we would love to see pictures of your freshly polished pieces and know how you got on with the wax, so be sure to share these with us on our social media platforms.