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Reclaimed wood is beautiful, unique, and can be used to make a range of furniture and decor. It has been used to craft everything from chairs and tables to accent shelves and walls.

If you have a piece made from reclaimed wood in your home, you very likely want to do as much as possible to help maintain its appearance. However, cleaning reclaimed wood is different from cleaning traditional modern wood. So, whether you have shelves, a table, or other furniture made from reclaimed wood, here is everything you need to know about cleaning and maintaining it! 

Stick With Natural, Gentle Cleaning

One of the reasons people love reclaimed wood is its unique age and character. Years of exposure, use, and normal wear age wood, creating a finish sometimes called “patina.” When cleaning a piece of reclaimed wood furniture, the last thing you want to do is remove or ruin the wood’s patina. 

There are a few ways you can clean reclaimed wood without damaging its unique character.

Keep It Simple: Brush And Wipe

Whether it has been refinished or is raw, it’s always best to keep it simple when cleaning reclaimed wood. If all you need to do is remove some surface dust, use a soft bristle brush. Brushes are nice because they can get deeper into the nooks and crannies common in the surface of aged wood. 

Alternatively, you can use the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner to remove dust from the surface of reclaimed wood furniture. The bristles of the attachment work just as well to loosen dust or debris, which the vacuum then easily removes.

After brushing the surface, lightly dampen a lint-free cloth with water and gently wipe the surface. It’s important to use a lint-free material because the uneven edges of reclaimed wood, especially wood that has been left raw, can easily snag and collect lint.

Avoid Typical Wood Furniture Cleaners

Generally, brushing and wiping the wood’s surface down is enough to remove most common dust and household debris. However, with tables and other reclaimed wood surfaces, you will probably want to do a deeper clean. If you plan to use cleaning products, you should avoid most common furniture cleaners.

Many common furniture cleaners are ammonia based. Depending on how your reclaimed wood furniture was finished, these cleaners can damage the porous wood and strip away its patina.

Instead, try these wood cleaners:

  • For untreated reclaimed wood, a simple mixture of water, white vinegar, and a small amount of olive oil is enough to clean the surface without causing any unnecessary damage to the wood. It’s also all-natural and non-toxic. 
  • For treated/sealed reclaimed wood, you have several safe options. One of the most common is to use a high quality furniture wax to wipe and treat the surface. Alternatively, an oil-based wood furniture soap is also effective. Carefully follow the directions provided with these products for the best results. However, when in doubt, less of a cleaning product is usually more.

In both cases, always use soft, lint-free rags when cleaning any reclaimed wood furniture. These will better protect the wood, especially treated pieces, from scratching as well as any residual lint. 

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Be Proactive: Protect Your Reclaimed Wood

While cleaning is a necessary part of caring for any piece of furniture, reclaimed wood should also be properly protected. Whether the wood is untreated or sealed, you should be aware of potentially damaging environmental factors. 

Avoid Exposure To Direct Sunlight

Similar to most wood furniture, direct sunlight can discolor or warp the wood. For treated reclaimed wood, avoiding sunlight is even more important. Wood finish can fade and wear when exposed to the powerful UV radiation of the sun. This radiation can also cause the finish to deteriorate, in turn opening the wood up to further damage!

Keep Moisture Away

Like sunlight, excessive moisture can be damaging to any wood surface; reclaimed wood is no exception. While most finishes provide some level of protection from moisture, water damage can still occur. For untreated reclaimed wood furniture, water damage may be even more substantial. For tables and other frequently used furniture it’s important to always use coasters for drinks and when spills occur, immediately wipe them up.

Maintain Stable Temperatures

Fluctuations in temperature, especially rapid changes, can cause serious damage to any type of wood. When wood quickly heats up or cools down it can shrink or expand too fast. As a result, the wood can potentially warp, crack, and, in extreme cases, even splinter. 

Temperature fluctuations are rarely a problem indoors. Nonetheless, you should avoid placing any wood furniture too close to heaters or central air vents. 

Shop For High Quality Reclaimed Wood Shelves & Decor

Purchasing reclaimed wood furniture from a trusted source is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting quality wood that has been properly stained or treated. It’s also helpful to learn more about reclaimed wood before investing heavily into a piece of furniture. 

At Urban Legacy, we take pride in our craftsmanship and appreciate the unique character of authentic reclaimed wood. Shop our collection of reclaimed wood shelves to find the perfect addition to your home or office. We also have reclaimed wood wall decor for those looking for a one-of-a-kind accent piece.