These are our top 3 ways of cleaning and restoring your vintage furniture using natural and low-toxic household products.
There are some nasty chemicals used in products for cleaning furniture or households. If you're anything like us, you care about your environment & your family and you prefer using low toxic and environmentally friendly substances in and around your home. This extends to any vintage furniture you own, and we'd like to share a few tips on safer, greener cleaning products that we use and that you can use.
1. Olive Oil & Vinegar 50/50 mix.
Yep that's right! Two ingredients you are bound to have in your kitchen cupboard. This is particularly good for old, tired looking wood on say, a vintage table. The vinegar acts as a mild cleaner and the olive oil nourishes the wood, soaking in and bringing it back to its former glory. If you use white or spirit vinegar then it'll be less likely to leave an odour. We use this one all the time and it is really effective even on very dusty, grimy, dry old wood. It can even get rid of water stains on varnished surfaces. It's what we used to restore the top of this Victorian Jewellery bench.
It's important for us, having to clean and restore vintage furniture regularly, that we use safe non-toxic ingredients. This one's so low in toxicity that you can put it on your chips! Both ingredients are fully bio-degradable and non harmful to our environment.
Method: Put 50/50 mixture in a jar with some space at the top and give a quick shake until it emulsifies. Apply with a cotton cloth or paper towel. You will have to frequently shake the jar to re-emulsify as it drops out of suspension.
2. Bi-carbonate of Soda.
Another cupboard lurker! Again, this is non-toxic and can be used to clean upholstery, leather, vinyl, wood and metals, excluding aluminium as it can react with this metal causing discolouration. Bi-carb is a good odour reducer to boot, so can take away any musty old smells. It is also a mould inhibitor. So many benefits from this cheap and safe household compound.
Method: Can be used as a solution for general cleaning or as a paste for really grimy pieces. For the solution mix one heaped teaspoon in a jar of warm water and shake until dissolved. Apply with a cloth or paper towel. Make a paste and apply with a scourer or cloth for really dirty areas. May leave some powdery residue when dry, which can be brushed off.
3. Orange Peels or Orange Oil Cleaner.
This one takes a bit of effort so I've added the shortcut of using orange essential oil. Orange and citrus fruit peels contain a compound called limonene which is a powerful, naturally occurring solvent and cleaner. This substance is used in many household cleaning products and cosmetics. Orange oil, in its natural form found in the peels, also has the wonderful aroma of course.
Method: You can extract the oil from the peels by putting the orange peels in a jar and covering with white vinegar. After a week or two discard the orange peels (in the compost!) and mix the remaining juice with one or two parts water in a spray bottle and use as you would a household cleaner. It removes oils quite well and smells wonderful. Pretty much safe to use on anything other than marble, which may discolour. Use neat without adding the water for stubborn grime. You can also just buy pure orange oil and add a teaspoon to water or 50/50 vinegar/water in a spray bottle for a safe and environmentally friendly cleaner.
So, go forth and use these recipes widely. Bring your timber furniture back to life and make your home smell nicer in the process.