How to Clean a Wood Table That is Sticky
If you’ve ever had to peel your arms off a dining table, you’ve probably wondered how to clean sticky wood furniture. It’s such an unpleasant feeling, and simple soap and water do nothing to remove it. This seems to help at first, but once the surface dries, the stickiness returns. So, why did it become sticky in the first place? The culprit is wax buildup from your spray polish.
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Why is my wooden table sticky?
A sticky surface usually comes from the accumulation of dirt, cooking grease, and grime. Another possibility is building up furniture polish, especially wax or oil.
Fortunately, it’s usually enough to give your desk a good clean without stripping and cleaning the surface. Here’s how…
What you will need:
- White vinegar
- Bucket and cup
- Microfiber cloth and a soft cloth
Why does wooden furniture get sticky?
The furniture polish and dusting spray we use to give wooden surfaces a beautiful shine is also why it creates a sticky residue. Commercial sprays contain silicone, a substance that creates a smooth, reflective surface. Over time, the silicone layers trap moisture and moisture between them which prevents the polish from hardening. Instead, it creates a sticky mess that makes your desk and other furnishings look dull and dirty even after you’ve just cleaned them.
If you want to get rid of the sticky feeling on your wooden furniture, you need to remove the wax build-up. This doesn’t mean you have to scrub like your grandma. These days, few people use the heavy furniture wax that previous generations favored. Modern commercial furniture polish can attract dust and make your furniture cloudy and sticky, but it’s easy to remove.
How to Remove Sticky Wax Buildup from Furniture
Here are two ways to quickly and inexpensively remove sticky wax build-up from wood furniture. Be careful and test the solution in an inconspicuous place first. For antiques, it’s best to see a professional.
Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the first piece
Apply the spray directly to the surface and follow the grain of the wood. You may want to reapply for stubborn dirt, then rub at a right angle onto the grain. Use a toothbrush in the veins.
Let it dry, then repeat if needed. In humid areas, or if you have several layers of wax, you may need to repeat this process. Allow the surface to dry completely each time before deciding if you need to do it again.
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Still, feel the sticky wax build up?
If you’ve repeated this process a couple of times and you still feel like your wood furniture is getting sticky, the varnish has likely failed. You will need to strip the furniture and clean it with paint, varnish, or lacquer.
To remove varnish, wipe with mineral spirits and a soft cloth along the grain. This will remove the varnish and transfer it to the wood. Once you get to the mineral spirits part, follow up with a clean, damp cloth and buff dry. You can get mineral spirits at most hardware stores or find them online. Since it is a solvent, you should use it outdoors. Clean the surface with warm, soapy water and a sponge to remove grease and grime, then allow it to dry before cleaning.
Why is my wooden furniture sticky?
If you have a thick, sticky film on your wooden kitchen table and chairs, your kitchen cabinets, a coffee table, a door, a handrail, etc., now is the time to remove that sticky mess. Move away and get down. Clean original finish.
Sticks and grime on wood come from cooking grease and fumes, layers of furniture polish, cigarette smoke, damp hands, and even cracking of the original finish. Fortunately, wax build-up usually doesn’t ruin the original finish. You just need to be careful to clean the wood without stripping the surface and clean it.
Still, feel a build?
If this method doesn’t completely remove the sticky buildup, switch to a product specifically formulated for wood cleaning. These can be found in most home improvement and hardware stores. Certain maintenance solvents, such as Speed Cleaning’s Furniture Feeder, dissolve wax buildup on wood furniture. Be sure to apply the solvent to a disposable polishing cloth or directly to the furniture. Loosen and remove old wax with a polishing cloth, using a toothbrush for nooks and crannies. During the removal step, you can place the toothbrush on top of the cloth so that the bristles push the cloth into hard-to-reach areas.
Or better yet, save with the Speed Cleaning™ Dustbuster Kit that has all your dusting essentials in one kit. Premium furniture polish, fine wood and furniture feeder, white microfiber dusting wand, and a set of 4 microfiber cleaning cloths. And don’t forget to add a SpeedCleaning™ toothbrush to your order!
As with any product, Speed Cleaning recommends testing in an inconspicuous area first. Old finishes on a beautiful heirloom are best addressed by a professional wood care specialist.
Do not use wax for multiple coats on intricate parts of future wood furniture and only re-wax flat tops and occasionally flat sides. It will be easier to clean next time.
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Light wood furniture
Make some hot tea. Yes, add 3 black tea bags to 1 cup of hot water and allow to cool.
Apply the tea to the surface using a clean microfiber cloth and be sure to clean with the grain of the wood.
Use a new clean cloth and wipe with the grain again to remove excess moisture.
Wipe the surface again with a damp cloth to clean it completely.
Buff dry with another fresh cloth.
Polish the surface like new.