How to care for furniture

A satinwood bureau

Much of the furniture in your home will be made from wood, though some items may include metal, stone, plastic, glass or textile elements.

Use these tips to prevent damage, but seek specialist advice on methods of care best suited to each material.

Here's some useful advice from our conservation experts on how to look after furniture:

  • Even a few drops of spilt liquid will leave light or dark stains on wood and other materials. Place waterproof mats underneath any plants or flower vases and move them elsewhere to be watered.
  • Flat surfaces in good condition need only light dusting with a clean and dry soft cotton  cloth or lint-free duster with hemmed edges. A carved or raised surface needs a natural bristle brush; catch the falling dust with a vacuum cleaner.
  • Apply wax polish to wood once a year, using a soft paste wax. Avoid using aerosol polishes, except on modern synthetic finishes; the solvent can dissolve other finishes and cause a surface ‘bloom’.
  • Only move one piece of furniture at a time, between two people, and always lift by the lowest solid part of the main frame. Remove marble, glass and other detachable parts and carry vertically.
  • Monitor the condition of your furniture regularly and deal with any problems as soon as possible.
Carved or raised surfaces, such as the ornate seating in the Billiard Room at Dyffryn House, with A carved or raised surface needs a natural bristle brush
bench seating
Carved or raised surfaces, such as the ornate seating in the Billiard Room at Dyffryn House, with A carved or raised surface needs a natural bristle brush
Use mats underneath vessels containing water, as seen in this writing desk in the North East bedroom at Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland / NT 511522
Writing desk
Use mats underneath vessels containing water, as seen in this writing desk in the North East bedroom at Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland / NT 511522