recycled pallet clothes/shoes rack
Conventional furniture polishes are usually sold in aerosol cans and full of irritating ingredients, with many health concerns including lung damage and skin irritation. Most are also made with flammable ingredients that can be dangerous, if accidentally ingested, and some are concerned about links to cancer, due to carcinogenic ingredients. The good news is that you can safely wrap all of them up, and dump them in the bin. Not only are there much simpler, safe and cheaper alternatives, but often you don’t need to polish furniture, like the ‘experts’ tell you. Read on!
how to clean modern furniture
- Most modern furniture does not need ‘feeding with polish’ like antique furniture, so usually you can get by with a damp cotton duster (avoid Microfiber cloths as these are made with plastic particles, that drop off in the washing machine and go into the sea). Likewise avoid Microfiber or ‘feather’ dusters (not bird-friendly!), just visit the hardware shop and treat yourself to a small pack of proper thick white cotton dusters (usually made in Lancashire) and throw all the others away.
- Consider throwing out, recycling or removing furniture and surfaces you don’t use, for less surfaces to dust! It’s important to use biodegradable cloths, because dusting makes them grubby in a short while, so you don’t want to be polluting the oceans, each time you have to put one in the washing machine. You can also use a paintbrush to remove dust from telephones, keyboards and louvred doors that collect dust.
- Often dust collects in corners like skirting boards and ceilings. Do your best to leave spiders alone (they eat houseflies and most have never been outside, so will die if you’ transport them’ to the garden). Just regular dusting and removing ‘sticky air’ will mean they gradually go back to where they came from. Use an old paintbrush to gently dust ornaments that you’re frightened of smashing!
- Dust always travels towards the floor, so obviously begin at the top and go downwards. If you are dusting a whole house, start at the top and work your way down, finishing off with a good broom or hoover to remove any leftover dust you missed.
- For dusty lampshades and light fittings, obviously ensure everything is safely switched off first (never dust a warm/hot bulb with a damp cloth as it will shatter), then use hoover attachments or a cotton duster with a pole. Glass lampshades and chandeliers are best removed yearly to wash (but don’t like Delboy, Rodney and Granddad do it!) Again you can remove dust from fabric upholstery like sofas and curtains with hoover attachments.
- For dusty wicker furniture, use a hoover attachment and a soft cloth soaked in mild biodegradable detergent and leave to air-dry, to avoid the wood getting too wet. Also keep away from heat.
how to polish real wood furniture
For ‘real wood that needs feeding’, you can now buy polish free from beeswax, which is not used by some people for ethical reasons, and tends to leave a greasy smear and not-very-nice aroma. The best way to protect real-wood furniture is to store it away from direct sunlight and heat.
To make your own furniture polish, mix (in a clean bottle) two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice, then spray before use (just like a salad dressing!) Rub a small amount into the wood with a clean cotton cloth, then wipe dry with another clean cloth. Keep away from pets, as citrus oils are toxic.
If you don’t want to use lemon, you can instead mix a teaspoon of white cleaning vinegar to 1/4 cup of olive oil. If this leaves too much oil, just reverse the quantities (a teaspoon of olive oil to 1/4 cup of white cleaning vinegar). The vinegar cleans and the oil stops the wood drying out). Or just mix 10 drops of lemon oil and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (or white vinegar) with four drops of olive oil for a homemade furniture polish. Don’t use conventional polish as the silicone will damage the furniture, and leave an oily resident. If something is very dirty, use a mild solution of biodegradable detergent, but don’t let the wood get too wet, or leave a conventional wood soap and leave to dry naturally with the fresh air getting to it.
Bio-D has now launched a plant-based furniture polish made with natural oils, sold in a tin that is easy-to-recycle. Made with linseed oil (flammable on its town but hopefully okay in this), it also helps to protect against finger marks and spillages. If you spill something on antique furniture, wait 24 hours for any liquid to evaporate then if no joy, call in the professionals.
Delphis Multi-Surface Polish is safe for most surfaces, including wood. This is an anti-static biodegradable polish (safe for septic tanks if used as directed) without toxic ingredients, to give a stream-free finish and leaves a pleasant aroma. You can also use it on laminate, chrome, veneer, stainless steel, glass and plastic. Spray on direct and buff (for hard-to-reach areas, spray on a cloth and dust as normal) Keep essential oils away from children and pets, and avoid for pregnancy/breastfeeding.