Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

The Great Vinegar Experiment Part Five: Wood Care

by Danica Waters

I can’t believe there’s a part five to The Great Vinegar Experiment.  Really.  But since I’ve replaced my cleaning arsenal with distilled white vinegar, some baking soda,  a bit of all-natural laundry detergent and some dish soap, the last thing on my list to replace was my commercial wood polish.  Why replace the wood polish?  Because since I’ve been using all-natural cleaning agents, I have become acutely aware of how things that aren’t completely natural make me feel.  Things I used to brush off under the assumption “that’s just the way it is” are now subject to much more scrutiny.   No, it’s not okay for your eyes to burn even a little bit, or for your lungs to feel like they’ll explode if you don’t clear out of the room.  And quite frankly, my skin didn’t like my old wood cleaner.   Oddly enough, in retrospect, neither did my wood furniture.

My home is furnished with a lot of antique, unsealed wood furniture pieces that require a fair amount of maintenance to keep the moisture levels up.  While I grew up using products like Scott’s Liquid Gold (deadly solvent- based stuff) and Pledge (waxy aerosol) , I moved away from all that years ago.  Even though the (non-solvent based) commercial wood cleaner I used was touted as being all-natural, my skin used to sting like the devil anytime it came into contact with the product, or even with a rag  that contained its residue. On top of that, the product I used previously never really seemed to sink into the wood.  No matter how much I polished and buffed, I always felt like there was a sort of film left on top, and my furniture wasn’t getting the deep moisture it really needed.

I was really worried that an alternative homemade wood polish would end up having an adverse effect, so I tested it on a smaller piece of furniture first.   After using it for a couple of weeks with no weird reactions, no leftover gummy residue or discolorations (and much happier hands!), I started using the polish on my larger, more conspicuous pieces.  After a month, I’m enthusiastically sold.  (And I’m mad as hell that I’ve spent as much money as I have over the years on stuff that made my skin sting and didn’t really do anything that terribly great for my furniture. But now I know…)

Simply combining 1 part distilled white vinegar to 4 parts olive oil created a polish that my wood actually LOVES.      The solution is instantly absorbed by wood surfaces, almost like they’re drinking it in.  Finger prints come right off, and there is a lovely warm glow to the wood, rather than an oily sheen.  And the cherry on top? My hands are SUPER-HAPPY.  Let’s face it:  they’re getting a makeover every time I decide to dust!  “A makeover?”  you might ask.  “How on earth could a furniture polish give your hands a makeover?”

I cannot tell you right now, because I’m saving that information for Part 6 of the Great Vinegar Experiment.  Oh yes, there will be a Part 6.

But in the meantime, I should mention a few more  things about my new natural wood cleaner.  There are other recipes out there for what I’m sure are great natural wood cleaners.   Some of them called for the use of lemon juice in combination with olive or linseed oils, which I’m sure would be wonderful.  I chose to stay with vinegar, primarily because I figured it would have a longer shelf life than lemon juice.  I also opted to use olive oil instead of purchasing linseed oil, because it is something I can just pick up from the grocery store without having to make any special trips anywhere else.

This mixture can be easily distributed by means of a clean spray bottle.  Please note that you should vigorously shake the spray bottle in order to emulsify the ingredients prior to spraying it on your furniture, as oil and vinegar will separate.

Even though I have used this recipe for over a month now with great success on a variety of unsealed types of wood (walnut, mahogany, cherry, etc.), I do need to urge you to test it out on a small, inconspicuous area first to be sure you are as happy as I am with the results.

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Posted in Allspice Chronicles and Green Living and Natural Housekeeping and Home Remedies and Natural Wood Cleaner and Polish and vinegar by danica on June 13th, 2011 at 11:22 am.

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