Antique Furniture cleaner?


Well-known member
Does anyone have anyone have any recommendations on a 'detergent' product for cleaning up old "dirty" furniture? 



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Murphy's Oil Soap is one item that will work.  Most box stores and hardwarew stores carry it.

Dennis Bork


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Dave, if Murphy's Oil Soap doesn't do the job a more aggressive cleaner is Kotton Klenser available on line. Use with caution it will remove some finishes.

Leon Gauvreau

I found a witch's brew in a North Carolina antique shop that I use often. It's called "Kramer's Best Antique Improver" and it is found at The phone number is (816)252-9512. It's in wide use among the antique dealers in Western N. Carolina.

Also, if you are not familiar with "Liberon" products and particurly, their 0000 steel wool, then do yourself a favor and round some up. The steel wool is close to the abrasiveness of a new baby diaper. The wax's they make are equally nice to work with.

Hope this is of some benefit to you. Let us know haw you come out.

Leon Gauvreau

Jeff L Headley

Well-known member
Old dirty furniture.
Dave, This is a tricky question with endless avenues. Each piece should be examined with its own predetermined outcome. What do you have to work with? Is it a period surface, if so then less is better? Anything you add to a period surface ( if there is such a thing in today's market) takes away from or irrevocably adds to that surface, anything. If it has been sprayed with lacquer then have at it. Plastic is plastic. If you use any mineral spirit products DO NOT BALL UP YOUR RAGS!!!! FIRE HAZARD!!!! FIRE HAZARD!!!FIRE HAZARD!!! 


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Thanks fellas for the replies.  I'm working on an old lolling chair for a family member.  Don't know time frame/age of the piece. I'm looking to clean up the 'crud' on the arm rests prior to the upholstery.

Thanks again!



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I'm not sure I'd use it on something very valuable, but Goop brand hand cleaner does an excellent job at cleaning furniture.  Use a soft-bristle brush to apply it and use wet rags to clean it off.  You will need to follow the whole process with a rub down with a detergent to remove the lanolin residue from the wood; regular Dawn or Ivory dish soap mixed in warm water works well.  Plus, its good for your hands.  This tip actually came from the "old timers" working in a museum woodshop.

Another option is TSP (TriSodium Phosphate).  Painters often use it to clean up.  It's usually available from the big box stores and quality paint stores.  Of course this option isn't so good for your hands.

In either case make sure you thoroughly remove any residue.

jim vojcek

Well-known member
If you look for TSP, make sure you read the labels.  Due to the EPA,s  regulations many companies use other things and call it TSP.  In the Chicago area I have found it at Farm & Fleet.

Jim Vojek