Spring Cleaning

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

About this time every year it seems we all get a hankering to clean something, or maybe get started again on a project we put away last fall. Or perhaps you're moving into a new house. Often when furniture has been stored in the garage, an outbuilding or storage unit, it may be covered in mold and mildew, or it simply appears as though it could use a good cleaning.

Here are a few tips to help you along:

1. If at all possible, never store furniture in damp areas.

2. Be sure to inspect both the outside and the inside of case goods, especially the interior of chests and their drawers as well as any other enclosed areas. When mold or mildew is found on furniture, it usually presents itself on the articles that haven't seen the light of day for quite a while.

3. If your piece is particularly valuable or the damage is severe, you may want to consult a furniture restoration specialist before attempting cleaning or other repairs.

4. Before beginning the cleaning process, choose an area to work that is in the shade.

5. When mold or mildew is present, use a mild solution of household bleach and clean water, and working as quickly as possible, thoroughly clean all areas. This is where you should pay careful attention or else damage could occur. It's good to have a helper!

6. When removing mold and/or working with bleach, it's a good idea to wear a mask or respirator and rubber gloves.

7. Using a chest of drawers as an example, remove the drawers and place them out of your way for the moment. Inspect the interior of the chest. If mold is present, I would clean the entire interior first before moving on to the sides, front and top. I always do the drawers last and then replace them as I go.

8. Let's start cleaning. This is where a helper really comes in handy. Using clean old rags, wet a rag with your solution and wring it out almost completely. Wet two more rags with clean water. Wash an area as fast as you can cover it, then immediately wipe with a clean wet cloth and finally repeat with another clean wet cloth. Now dry the area.

9. Speed is important because wetting furniture finishes is okay only as long as it's dried in a timely manner. That is why having a helper is important. You wash and rinse with water, your helper rinses again and then dries.

10. After all is clean and dry, reinspect all areas to make sure all of the mold and mildew has been cleaned away. Repeat where necessary and then apply a good paste wax . Not a liquid polish, but a paste wax.

11. Enjoy!

I invite you to sign up for one of my upcoming wood finishing seminars at Highland Woodworking:

Furniture Repair , March 14, 2009

Quick Wood Finishes , March 25

Antique Restoration , April 18-19

French Polish Workshop , April 29

Gilding and Gold Leafing , May 6

Wood Coloring Basics , May 13

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net .

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