Homemade Furniture Cleaner

by Daisy


It’s a little early for Halloween, but I wanted to show you what’s happened to my furniture. The rain finally quit, but the extreme humidity left a moldy, green haze on everything. Pretty gross.

It got me thinking about furniture cleaners/polish, and how I hate the petroleum smell of store-bought. It lingers and doesn’t do anything good for indoor air quality.

Reading about how museums clean their prized possessions provides some good ideas. Most of the advice–regular dry dusting in combination with maintaining optimal humidity and protecting from weather extremes of heat and light, comes too late for me in view of the picture above.

Looking over homemade cleaner recipes, I searched for a cleaner/polish with a minimum of water-based ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar, but with some of their cleaning power.

Homemade Furniture Cleaner/Polish

1/2 cup olive oil

2 T. lemon juice or vinegar

several drops essential oil(s) of choice (totally optional)

Combine in a jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well before each use. Pour a little on a dry, soft, cotton rag and rub into wood. Buff gently with a clean, dry cloth to remove excess polish (too much left on the finish will attract dust).

A small dowel sharpened in a pencil sharpener and wrapped in a cleaning cloth can help get the grunge out of intricate carvings. All the experts seem to agree that dry dusting is the best, safest way to do your regular cleaning, but a dry rag wasn’t going to faze the green mold.

Here’s the after pic:


Much less scary.

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Whit October 2, 2009 at 3:33 am

wonderful recipe! i have a book by Christina Strutt on “natural housekeeping” from the UK, that has a similar recipe for “Lemon Dustcloths”. Can make ahead and keep them in airtight jars. Books title: A Guide To Green Housekeeping.

kate October 2, 2009 at 4:29 am

salad dressing for wood furniture, delicious.

southwestern furniture dallas October 2, 2009 at 4:38 am


I have gone through your blog and I thought that it will be really very helpful.

Thanks for it….

Jenny October 2, 2009 at 6:17 am

Wow, what a difference! that is gonna come in handy around the ranch!

Patti October 2, 2009 at 6:52 am

I like how you think!

Jenn @ FFP October 2, 2009 at 8:57 am

It looks great and I bet it smells so so good! I love olive oil so this would work great in my house! Thanks for the tip!

Anachronism85 October 2, 2009 at 9:07 am

This is wonderful! I can’t wait to try it out on my new furniture! Thanks sooo much. 🙂

LisaPie October 2, 2009 at 10:06 am

I have been buying a product to do my furniture that is made of olive oil and lemon. I can’t imagine how I could screw up making this my own self! Two ingredients, no chemicals, no muss, no fuss!

Thanks so much.

Adica October 2, 2009 at 10:33 am

Wow, that’s pretty amazing. I’ll have to try this sometime when I have furniture, lol.

Carla October 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm

In general I avoid oiling my furniture because I find it attracts dust. However, you had a different situation going with that piece up there. Good old olive oil and lemons — can’t beat it.

Daharja October 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for that! I think I’ll be filing it away with my “how to clean your stuff without fouling up the planet” notes 🙂


Erin October 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm


Handful October 2, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for the great tip! I have some pieces that have been in the barn because I don’t have space at this point (still trying to get the family room and parlour done!! Like THAT’S ever gonna happen.) I am sure it looks somewhat like that by now.

About Halloween…

I stopped canning for a minute – just a minute mind you- and looked up at my kitchen fan and light…

Baddd move…

Apparently I’ve been preparing for Halloween for quite some time now! 😉

tanya walton October 3, 2009 at 3:25 am

this looks great….do you know if has the home made polish actually killed the mold spores??

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:29 am

tanya walton–The mold hasn’t returned, but the humidity has gone down considerably, so I hope I never find out. I don’t ever want to let it get that humid again.

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:32 am

Handful–Mmhm. I’m hearing you. How does something that spins so fast gather so much yuck?

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:32 am

Erin–My buffet and I thank you!

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:33 am

Daharja–I’ll have to check out your blog to see the rest of those notes!

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

Carla–Yes, had to get serious for some serious crud!

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:37 am

Adica–Oh no! Well, think of the time you save . .. do I sound like Ppllyanna?

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:38 am

LisaPie–I’ve never seen that one around here. Hmm. Interesting.

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:38 am

Anachronism85–You’re welcome!

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:39 am

Jenn @FFP–I hope it does well for you. Good luck!

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:40 am

Patti–Ha! Thank you! You too!

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:40 am

Jenny–Yes, there was no where to go but up with this one!

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:41 am

kate–Exactly. Maybe add a little garlic . . .

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 6:42 am

Whit–I like that idea a lot. Ready made cloths sound very convenient.

Suseon October 3, 2009 at 10:55 am

If you want to avoid attracting dust to the olive oil try flaxseed oil instead. Old time remedies for furniture polish used linseed oil which comes from the same plant as flaxseed only not food grade. The polyunsaturated fatty acids in flaxseed oxidize rapidly at room temperature (which is why you should always refrigerate it so you don’t consume free radicals). This oxidation causes it to polymerize with the wood creating a nice finish that won’t attract dust. The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are too stable at room temp and take too long to polymerize, thus leaving a sticky mess that attracts dust.

Tomato Lady October 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Suseon–That sounds really fantastic. I have to get some flaxseed oil. Thanks a lot.

GardenRetreat October 3, 2009 at 11:22 pm

We sure have been sold that we need store bought cleaners to do the job right. Thanks for tip. It did make me think that I have to clean my outdoor furniture soon, ugh..

Tomato Lady October 5, 2009 at 9:38 am

GardenRetreat–Exactly. They make us feel like only their special formula will do.

Jackie October 6, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Just the other day, I busted my behind polishing with what I *thought* was Orange scented furniture polish. DH comes home, and I, like a smiling dope, ask, “Honey, can you smell that?”
He says, “Yeah – it smells like a mechanic’s garage in here.”
That’s when it occurred to me, that the polish is petroleum oil based! Grr –
So, your recipe is just in time! Tomorrow, I’m testing it out!

jan October 7, 2009 at 9:38 am

Wow! This just looks so easy! Going to mix up a batch in just a few minutes and try. I absolutely LOVE your home-made laundry detergent. Everything comes out so clean! I added 1/2 a cup of lemon juice to the finished product and stirred it up real good for a fresh “lemony” scented wash. You have some of the best ideas. Keep them coming….I am getting greener every day!

USA furniture manufacturers November 18, 2009 at 8:43 am

Natural solutions are great, there are just too many chemicals in our environment.

But would it be possible to use mineral oil instead of olive? Usually this is what is used on wooden kitchen items (cutting boards, etc.) because it doesn’t go rancid. Olive oil can smell bad after a while.

Adica May 12, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Do you think it would be possible to use vegetable oil instead of olive oil? The only olive oil I have is extra virgin olive oil, and it’s so expensive…

Marie Gunderman March 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’ve tried this today , my coffee table had a build up on it (milky lookin) . And tried some other options from another site , cleaning with murphy oil soap made it look worst. Another site said to use the color shoe polish to match your wood tried that .Trying to buff it out omg got the husbands car buffer helped but not much .Then i found your site for the polish . And i can’t believe how it looks now ,cleaned all my furniture even the stuff that was already done with pledge .And you can see the dirt on the rag , its really something .I will never use or buy can polish again .
Thank you .

Tomato Lady March 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Marie–Terrific! I’m glad it worked so well!

Rubina September 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm

thank you!!!!!!! this worked wonderfully used essence of lavendar oil OMG!!!!!!!! thank you again

Kathy Robertson July 21, 2014 at 9:41 pm

What about a DIY upholstery cleaner?

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