Homemade, All-Natural Furniture Polishes
Wood furniture looks its best when polished regularly with a good quality furniture polish. It keeps the wood from drying out and protects the finish from moisture and staining. The most common furniture polishes come in aerosol cans (which is something we should stay away from anyway---the CFCs in aerosol cans are harmful to the ozone layer) and contain a variety of chemicals that have a negative effect on health and indoor air quality.
By making your own natural furniture polishes, you can avoid the harmful chemicals while saving money. These three recipes for homemade furniture polish are inexpensive and easy to make.
The Easiest Recipe: Black Tea Furniture Polish
I use this one most often at my house because it is insanely easy. All you need to do is boil some water, and steep some black tea. Tea bags work just fine for this, and are very cheap. Pour some of the boiling water into a large cup or bowl and steep three or four tea bags in it until the water cools. Once the water is cool, remove the tea bags, dip a cotton cloth into the tea, and wipe it onto your wood furniture. No rinsing is necessary, and you will end up with a nice, natural sheen on your furniture.
So why does this work? The tannic acid in the tea removes residues from old, dull furniture polish, restoring the natural sheen of the finish.
The Salad Dressing Polish: Vinegar and Olive Oil
This is another inexpensive polish, and it is perfect for all types of wood furniture. To make it, you simply mix one cup of olive oil and a quarter of a cup of white vinegar together, and pour it into a spray bottle. Don't worry, your furniture won't smell like a salad--the vinegar smell dissipates as the polish dries. To use it, just spray the mixture onto a soft cotton cloth and polish the furniture, rubbing with the grain of the wood. It will leave a gorgeous shine on your furniture.
Why does this work? The vinegar removes dirt and any residues from old furniture polishes. The olive oil moisturizes the wood and leaves a nice shine behind. You could also replace the vinegar with an equal amount of lemon juice, which would do the same job as the vinegar while leaving behind a light lemony fragrance.
Weird Enough to Work---Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise, delicious though it may be, is not always the best thing for our diet. It is good as a furniture polish, though. To use it, simply put a small dollop of mayo on a soft cloth, and polish your furniture, rubbing with the grain of the wood. You don't need to rinse. Just keep buffing until your furniture has a nice shine to it. By the time it does, the mayonnaise smell will be gone.
Why does it work? It works because mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip---not the same thing at all!) is an emulsion of oil, vinegar, and eggs. The oil and eggs are what work to give your furniture a nice shine, and the vinegar in the mix cleans and removes old residues.
Okay, I'll admit it: it sounds a little crazy to tell people to wipe tea or mayonnaise onto their furniture. Just try it. Your furniture will look great, your home will be healthier, and you'll save money, too. Plus, you'll never run out of furniture polish---almost everyone has at least a couple of these ingredients on hand at all times.
"Green Home" Links
- Cleaning Without Chemicals
This article contains both an explanation of why most commercially-available cleaners are bad for us and recipes for all natural glass cleaners, disinfectants, scouring powders, and floor cleaners.
- Treehugger: How To Green Your Cleaning
Treehugger's comprehensive guide to earth-friendly cleaning.
- Clean and Green
Tons of recipes for all kinds of homemade, natural cleaners. This is a great resource!
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