Varnishing wood is not only for decorative and protective purposes. A well laid coat of varnish will also allow for effective cleaning of the wooden object in question, without causing damage to the varnish itself or the surface below.
Generally, all varnished wood surfaces and objects can be cleaned without too much trouble or risk of damage. Varnished wood tends to accumulate a certain amount of grime and grease over time, through exposure or frequent contact with the human body (e.g. the handle area of a varnished wooden door).
According to Cleaners Chelsea in order to clean varnished wood around your home you will only need a couple of easily obtainable items and products.
Necessary kit: soft dry cloth, a damp cloth, furniture polish.
-begin by wiping down the varnished surfaces using the soft cloth in order to remove dust and loose bits of dirt.
-use the damp cloth for stubborn spots and blemishes that don’t come off too easy, don’t wet the varnish and always wipe the surface dry right after using the damp cloth.
NB: Varnish is not water and moisture resistant, although it may appear so. Prolonged exposure to moisture or excess contact with water or other liquids will soften and penetrate the varnished surface and mess up the wood finish.
-clean all sides and surfaces of the varnished item, don’t rub and scrub too hard, and don’t worry of the varnish appears unevenly laid right after cleaning – sometimes when dirt and grime are removed, the real quality of the varnishing becomes visible.
-after cleaning everything with a damp and dry cloth, apply the furniture polish, check if the furniture polish you have is suitable for varnished wood, most furniture polishes will not affect or dissolve varnish, nevertheless do check in advance.
-apply the polish gently using a soft rag, the rag must be dry not damp, also don’t leave excess polish here and there but spread it evenly, ensure this by going quickly over the entire piece once more with a dry cloth.
If applying furniture wax to varnish wood, make sure the layer is very thin and there is no built up in corners, nooks and crannies.
What you should NOT do:
-never clean varnished wood using alcohol based or spirit containing products, these are aggressive solvents which will penetrate and damage the varnish and alter the surface beneath.
-never use a brush of any kind to clean varnish, even soft bristle brushes can cause damage.