3-Step Green Cleaning for Secondhand Furniture Finds


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When vintage credenzas, armoires and chairs — sometimes up to 20 pieces a week — pass through the Furnish Green studio, they have to be restored to their former glory. Like most curbside finds and estate sale scores, these pieces are musty, sometimes dull and watermarked and in need of a fresh coat of paint. This Midtown Manhattan-based shop shared their eco-friendly, 3-step cleaning process to make the restoration process safer on the environment.


“When a piece comes into our workshop we first carefully vacuum and steam the piece,” says Jeffrey Renz, creative director at Furnish Green. A high-heat dry vapor steamer is the strongest weapon against tough ingrained smells and dust. Available online, dry vapor steams are a great way to make sure there are no critters living in your one-of-a-kind dresser. Be sure to remove all drawers and clean the inner carcass just as you would the outside finish. A bag-less shop vacuum is also a great way to clean out dust without increasing paper waste.

Vinegar and Water

Photo: Zoesoulspa.com

Photo: Zoesoulspa.com

The powerful duo of vinegar and water is the second step in cleaning a secondhand find. When used in combination with steel wool and rags, a vinegar and water solution provides a deep and natural clean to the outer surfaces of unpainted pieces. “We typically use a very fine steel wool like Grade 0000, which you can find at any hardware store, to avoid scratching the finish,” Jeffrey says. The vinegar and water mix is a particularly great cleaning solution for raw wood and metal pieces. Cut up old cotton t-shirts and use them to soak up any remaining moisture and dirt.

Orange Oil

orange oil before and after
To add shine and that natural luster to unpainted wood and metal pieces, Furnish Green relies on orange oil. The non-toxic oil is a great medium, immediately reviving surfaces with moisture and hiding visible scratches. Remember to always test the oil on a spot that is not visible on the piece. Simply apply the oil with a clean rag to the back, if it has the same finish, or to one of the legs to make sure that it is producing the look you desire. “If you are working on raw wood piece, use a beeswax and orange oil mix, which you can find in many specialty hardware stores or at Furnish Green,” says Jeffrey. It has no harmful fumes and a smooth application.”

Visit Furnish Green online on their new e-commerce site or in-person at 1261 Broadway, Suite 505 in New York City.

  • jasonjoneh

    Many people do not know that how to clean their furniture and they use wrong and hard liquids which are very harmful. Here you have written really amazing tips.