looking after your furniture
1 – Looking after your furniture
Wood, a living thing:
Wood, even after it has been cut, is a living thing. It reacts to changes in temperature and humidity.
It absorbs or releases humidity according to changes in climate. During the wet season it has a tendency to dilate, and on the contrary it retracts during the drier season.
This said, wood used in carpentry has already been dried in order to reach a balance of humidity equivalent to a standard indoor temperature of around 19 degrees (Celsius).
The solid wood components of furniture tend to split or warp slightly, but this is not permanent or irreversible. Some slight cracks may close up with the next change of season. Larger cracks can be treated with wood filler.
Wood gives furniture a unique character, by virtue of the grain, the texture or indeed the color. And this is exactly what makes wood so fascinating and so perfect for making furniture. Small differences in color and texture should not be viewed as faults, on the contrary they are a reminder that each component part of a particular piece of furniture is made of a different part of the tree. In the same way knots are not faults, but a spot in the trunk from which a branch has grown.
Some types of wood undergo considerable changes in color over time. This is caused by exposure to sunlight. The more a piece of furniture is exposed to direct sunlight, the more its color will change. If you wish to slow this process down, avoid placing your furniture in direct sunlight. Changes in color are all the more visible on darker woods, such as Brazilian rosewood.
Differences in color are often visible on the extension leaves of dining tables, which, of course, are not exposed to the same amount of light as the rest of the table.
Avoid leaving your furniture in the direct stream of sunlight.
Avoid placing the furniture in rooms subject to extreme changes in temperature or humidity. Solid wood furniture should not be stored in rooms where temperature or humidity levels are subject to frequent variations.
Galerie Mobler recommends the Guardian range of products, which have been used by the most reputed Danish workshops since 1977. Guardian products are made with natural, non-toxic ingredients and carry the label “Danish Climate Indoor”. They are not harmful for the environment or for the user. They can be used indoors and are not dangerous if inhaled. They have been tested by the Danish Technological Institute.
- When cleaning and treating, always work along the grain of the wood
- Do not place hot items directly onto the furniture.
- Remember to use trivets. Avoid cork-based trivets: they transfer humidity.
- When you use a cutting edge on the table always use a chopping board.
- Humidity is wood’s greatest foe, so immediately mop up any spilt liquid or water splashes.
- Tabletops should not be covered for long periods with air-tight fabrics such as plastic or waxed cloth (maximum 12 hours)
- Avoid placing furniture too close to radiators, wood-burning stoves, etc. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight.
Looking after oiled wood
Wipe furniture down with a clean dry cloth. If the surface is dirty, wipe the whole surface with a damp cloth that has been soaked in a soapy solution, or use a wood cleaner. Wipe down with a clean dry cloth.
Remove any surface layers of oil with a wood cleaner. Wipe with a dry cloth, then use a different cloth to apply a fine layer of indoor wood oil.
If stains remain after the wood oil treatment, rub down, following the direction of the grain, with very fine (320 or 360) sandpaper. You can also use a fine Scotch pad, or an aluminum version. Wipe with a dry cloth.
Oiled furniture should be treated in this way 4 to 6 times per year.
Looking after soap-treated wood
Furniture that has been treated with soap-based products must always be cared for in the same way. In order to ensure that the wood surfaces remain dirt- and humidity resistant, give them a soap treatment 6 times per year.
You can prepare your treatment using soap flakes, or with a ready-to-use natural mix for wood.
Dissolve 20g of soap flakes in 1 liter of warm (30°) water. Mix to dissolve all of the flakes. Use a damp cloth to spread the solution on wood and leather. All of the surfaces must be covered uniformly. Leave to dry for approximately 10 minutes. Rinse the surfaces with clean water. Be careful to wring the cloth out well to avoid excess water. If the soap has left a residue, buff up the surface with a dry cloth.
On oak, it is recommended to use distilled water in the soap mix. Attention, in some cases water rich in iron can cause discoloration of the wood.
Attention: veneer absorbs more humidity than solid wood, which can lead to cracks. For this reason only wash veneer surfaces down once.
Wipe down with a damp cloth, preferably using a soap-based solution. Never use detergents.
NB: Furniture should absorb the oils in the soap, not the water. For this reason, only apply very fine layers to avoid the wood cracking as it dries.
Too much water and over-use of this treatment can lead to discoloration of the wood. Wood fibers can have a tendency to swell after treatment, making the surface rougher. You can sand the surface (following the direction of the grain) with fine sandpaper, then wipe down.
Looking after waxed surfaces
Oil or soap based treatments give wood a silky matt finish. If you prefer a deeper glossy look, wax your furniture. Wax can be applied to untreated, unvarnished wood, the surface prepared with wax or oil.
Wipe furniture down with a clean dry cloth. If the surface is dirty wipe the whole piece down with a damp cloth and a soap solution or use a wood cleaner. Then wipe down with a clean dry cloth.
Remove surface layers of wax with a wood cleaner. Wipe down with a dry cloth, then apply a fine layer of beeswax with a clean cloth.
Oiled furniture should be re-waxed 3 to 4 times per year.
Looking after varnished or painted surfaces
Wipe with a damp cloth and dry off immediately with a clean dry cloth. For very dirty surfaces use a damp cloth with a detergent mixture (a few drops of washing up liquid in a liter of warm water). Dry with a clean dry cloth.
2- Upholstery care
New fabric upholstery should be protected with a stain-resistant spray. Regular cleaning is important to look after the upholstery and prolong it life. Dust and dirt wear down the fabric and affect its flame-retardant properties.
Clean regularly using a vacuum cleaner (on reduced power if possible), preferably once a week. Remove non-greasy stains with a clean damp lint-free cloth or sponge. If necessary, dab with soapy water, or a weak mixture of water and washing-up liquid (see below for proportions). Dab the surface with clean warm water.
ATTENTION! Do not rub the fabric too hard, as this could affect the color or the finish of the upholstery.
To make a soap solution use 1 and a half desert spoons of soap flakes for 1 liter of hot water, and cool before use. Water and washing up liquid solution: maximum 1 teaspoon of washing up liquid per liter of water. For concentrated liquids, use a few drops per liter of water.
3- Looking after leather upholstery
Clean your leather settees and armchairs regularly with the soft brush head of your vacuum cleaner. This prevents dust particles from building up on the surface and in the grooves.
In some cases deep cleaning is an absolute must to clean and rehydrate the leather. Use a solution of distilled or boiled water and natural soap flakes. Whisk the flakes in hot water to form a mousse. Apply this mousse to the leather surface using a soft cloth, taking care that the leather does not get too wet. When the surface is dry, wipe it down with a dry clean cotton cloth.
Attention: suede can be cleaned with the vacuum but never with the soap and water solution. Never apply leather grease to suede.
Never place leather furniture in direct sunlight or against a radiator. The leather may discolor or dry out. Never use chemical-based products on leather.