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Quality wood furniture can last a lifetime and is often a treasured heirloom, passed down through multiple generations. Still, even the highest-quality wood is susceptible to scratches and abrasions if not properly cared for. Here are a few tips to keep wood looking its best for many years to come.

Don’t Mistreat Furniture
To avoid rings and heat damage, always use coasters when setting glasses or mugs on wood tables, and never place hot food directly on them without the protection of a trivet or potholder. Incorporate decorative placemats or a tablecloth to protect your dining room table from food and drink spills.

Avoid Environmental Damage
Sunlight, heat and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on your fine wood. Don’t place valuable furniture in front of uncovered windows, vents or fireplaces, as the light and heat can damage and fade the wood.

Keep Your Wood Clean
Airborne particles can build a filmy layer on wood that scratches the surface. Frequent dusting keeps this buildup from happening. If you have a spot that’s heavily soiled or sticky, never use all-purpose cleaners, which can cause damage to the wood’s finish. Wipe it down with a damp cloth using water and mild dish detergent. When using commercial wood polishes and sprays, always buff well to avoid a dull, sticky film.

Treat Wear and Tear
Even with the best care, wood furniture can sustain injuries. For minor nicks and scratches, use a polish or touch-up stick to hide abrasions and restore the wood’s inherent beauty. If damage is too extensive to be treated this way and you aren’t quite ready to give up your treasured fixture, you may need to resort to something more drastic. Re-staining or painting a piece of damaged furniture could breathe new life into it and give it several more good years.

Re-Oil Dry Wood
If furniture has been stored and becomes overly dry, you may need to re-oil it. Begin by cleaning it with Murphy’s Oil Soap or another appropriate cleaner, and then prepare the surface with #0000 steel wool, always working with the grain. Liberally apply your furniture oil, and let it soak into the wood for about 15 minutes. If you’re going to apply a protective coating, let your furniture set for at least 24 hours before proceeding.

Keep Wood Smelling Fresh
Sometimes older pieces will develop an unpleasant odor, especially if they’ve been stored. You can sprinkle the surface with baking soda to freshen it up and place a pan of charcoal inside drawers to absorb smells that emanate from inside. You can even leave the piece outside in a shaded area on a warm, dry day to give relief from a malodorous stench.

Taking proper care of your wood furniture isn’t hard or even that time-consuming, and the reward for your effort will be a home filled with beautiful pieces that look and feel as good as the day you got them.

Source: Megan Wild/RISMedia’s Housecall

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