How to Clean Sticky Wood Furniture

Here’s how you can naturally remove wax buildup and get your sticky wood furniture clean again.

If you’ve ever had to peel your arms from the dining table, you may have wondered how to clean sticky wood furniture. It’s such an unpleasant sensation, and simple soap and water do nothing to remove it. Why did it get sticky in the first place? The culprit is wax buildup from spray polish.

Why Wood Furniture Gets Sticky

We all love it when wood tables and chairs gleam like they’ve just been polished. Unfortunately, the very same commercial sprays we use to create that beautiful shine also lead to sticky residue on wood furniture. Why? Because commercial sprays contain silicone, a substance that creates a smooth, reflective surface.

But, over time, the layers of silicone trap humidity and moisture between them. This prevents the layers from adhering to each other so they don’t harden. Instead, they leave a sticky residue on wood furniture. Eventually, the buildup makes your table and other furnishings look dull and dirty even when you’ve just cleaned them.

If you want to get rid of the sticky feel on your wood furniture, you need to remove the wax buildup. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to scrub as your grandmother did. These days, few people use the heavy furniture wax favored by past generations. Modern commercial furniture polish may attract dust, and it may turn your furniture cloudy and sticky, but it’s easy to remove.

Tips About Removing Sticky Wax Buildup

Dust first. Use a damp microfiber cloth to dust your furniture before using one of the wax remover methods below.

How to Clean Sticky Wood Furniture

Use a toothbrush in crevices. To remove wax buildup in wood furniture’s crevices, dip a soft toothbrush in the cleaning solution, scrub, rinse immediately, and buff dry.

Let it dry, then repeat if needed. You’ll know you’ve removed all of the sticky residue and wax build-up when you can slide your hand against the grain of the wood and feel the wood’s grain, not the wax.

How To Remove Sticky Wax Buildup From Furniture

Here are two ways to quickly and inexpensively remove the sticky wax buildup from wood furniture. Use caution and test the solution in an inconspicuous spot first. For antiques, it’s best to see a professional.

Wax Build-Up Remover For Light Wood


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Wax Build-Up Remover For Dark Wood

The method above works for dark wood, but using the method below will help bring out the wood’s grain and preserve its color.



Still Feel Sticky Wax Buildup?

In humid areas, or if you have several layers of wax buildup, you may need to repeat the process a couple of times to remove all of the layers.

But, if you’ve repeated the process a couple of times and still feel like there’s a waxy buildup making your wood furniture sticky, try wiping it along the grain with mineral spirits and a soft cloth. Once you’ve gone over a section with the mineral spirits, follow with a clean, damp cloth and buff dry. You can pick up mineral spirits at most hardware stores or find it online. Since this is a solvent, it’s only for use on sticky unpainted wood furniture and should be used outdoors.

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