Dear Home Ec 101,
I love receiving your info! So much fun to read! Anyway, I really need help with the following: I
bought a beautiful dining room table and chairs from a friend with children. Unfortunately, she has never instilled the clean-hands rule with them and the table is sticky and dulled with finger marks every single place hands can reach! I am confident that I could remove them, but no luck and I am at my wit’s end. I have tried Murphy’s Oil Soap, liquid dish washing detergent, vinegar, vinegar and oil. Please help.
I have a formal home and this looks so dirty and tacky that I am embarrassed.
Greasy Grimy Finger Prints
The clean hands rule is such an uphill battle, I can sympathize with your friend and because my kids leave the frustrating grime, I can sympathize with you, too.
That doesn’t accomplish much, does it?
I am going to make an assumption from the information provided, the hand prints and grime are noticeable because the table is a lighter, blonde wood without a high gloss finish. Do not use the following suggestion for a glossy piece of furniture.
Removing built up dirt and grease from a table has a fairly simple, if tedious solution. Grab a box of baking soda and some cheap vegetable oil, leave the fancy EVOO for another time. You’re also going to need a sponge or rag, a bowl, and a whole lot of patience.
Mix the baking soda and oil in the bowl in a 2:1 ratio. ( For every 1/2 cup of baking soda, you’ll use 1/4 cup of oil, make sense?) Stir to form a paste and apply with a rag or sponge following the grain of the wood.
The baking soda acts as a very mild abrasive and brings the grease into the solution. Remember the adage about like dissolving like? That’s what is happening here, the baking soda can get down into the tiny crevices and bring the bits of greasy dirt into the oil. Tasty!
Once you’ve removed the grimy hand prints from the table, wipe the entire table down with a damp rag with just a tiny bit of soap or cleaning agent like Murphy’s. (I, as most of you are tired of hearing, am a fan of Method’s line, especially the wood cleaner) and then wipe again with a rag that’s just dampened with water.
Now to restore a nice shine to the table, you’ll want to wax or oil it. Paste wax is the easier of the two options. And if you’ve ever waxed a car, you’ve got the basic idea. Wax on, wax off.*
- Paste Wax
- Soft, clean rags
Apply the paste in a circular motion, this works the wax into all of the tiny nicks, pores, and cracks in the finish of the table. Allow the wax to dry for a few minutes and then buff the table with the grain rather than in circles.
I know that was a lot of work, but on the bright side, if there aren’t kids in your home, you probably won’t have to repeat the oil and baking soda trick.
Waxing your table every six months or so will help maintain the finish of your table.
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*Award yourself One Internet if you said that like Pat Morita, please take care of it, all of my friends live in it.