Store-bought furniture polish can be expensive. These homemade furniture polish recipes work great, and will help you save money!
Homemade wood polish can be one of the most cost-effective solutions to protect and restore the natural beauty and luster of your wood furniture. Not only does it save you money when compared to store bought polishes, but it also allows you to use natural ingredients that are safer for the environment.
Most manufactured cleaners are not particularly environmentally friendly. Using them causes some people to develop respiratory symptoms, a feeling of depression or irritability, or just a general sleepiness or malaise. Those are all actually classic allergy symptoms.
The best part about making your own polish is that you can customize it to your individual needs. You can choose from many different natural oils like jojoba oil, olive oil or almond oil to provide a protective barrier against dirt and dust while nourishing the wood with vitamins and minerals.
Additionally, you have the option to add essential oils like lemon or lavender for an aromatic scent and extra shine. With homemade wood polish, you have the freedom to create whatever combination works best for your furniture.
Wood polishing tips
Got dull buildup from old polishes? If your furniture has lost all shine from deposits of old polish, you don’t need to refinish it. You can get that buildup off with this method.
- Brew some weak black tea (a couple of tea bags to a small saucepan of water)
- Dip a rag in it and wring it out thoroughly until it’s just barely damp
- Rub it into the wood
The tea tannins seem to gently melt away the buildup, revealing shine.
With the grain, or against? You may have noticed some polishes advise you to rub with the grain, others advise against. The truth is, no one’s conducted studies to see what works best – not even experts agree.
Most people polish wood using a circular motion, which is definitely against the grain, and are happy with the results. In some cases, polishing with the grain would be pretty difficult, so give yourself a break.
Homemade Wood Furniture Polish & Cleaner Recipes
Vegetable Oil and Citrus Polish
This solution is safe for any finished wood product, included laminate.
- 2 parts vegetable oil
- 1 part lemon oil
Any vegetable oil will do, so you can pick something cheap. But it’s smart to pick an oil that stays good for a long time, such as a low-price extra light olive oil (you actually don’t want to use extra virgin olive oil) or walnut oil.
The very best choice is actually jojoba oil, which you can order from Amazon, because it doesn’t go rancid at all. But a cheap olive oil will do just fine.
Wait, what? Did that just say “rancid”? Indeed it did. The thing about vegetable oil is that it can go rancid before you use it all up.
That’s why this recipe cuts it with lemon oil. Citrus can act as a preservative, and this is probably how the scent of lemon became associated with furniture polish in the first place.
You may also want to make your polish on the fly to avoid it going rancid in the bottle. Just make about what you need for a given polishing session.
You can put it in a spray bottle if you like, so you can spray it evenly over your rag. After it’s dry, wipe if off with a second, dry rag to get any remaining oil off.
Don’t spray directly onto furniture – this is good advice even with store-bought polishes. You want to use the least product you can, and applying it to the towel is the way to achieve that.
Vegetable Oil and Vinegar Furniture Polish
Some people find the above recipe too oily, and advocate using mostly vinegar or lemon oil – either of which will clean the wood and add shine – with just a few drops of vegetable oil to protect the wood and prevent it drying out.
I think the difference may have to do with climate, since heat, cold, dryness and humidity could interact with the oil.
So here’s an oil and white vinegar recipe to try in case you don’t like the way the above recipe works for you. Try them both and see which you prefer.
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- A few drops of cheap vegetable oil
You may find it takes very little oil to provide the shine and protection from dryness that the wood needs.
Hardwood Floor Cleaner & Polish
To polish and clean wood floors, just mix the following. Use as directed to restore the look of your hardwood floors.
- 1 part vegetable oil
- 1 part distilled white vinegar
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray it directly onto the floor one small area at a time. Wipe the area down with a microfiber cloth. Then use a clean cloth to dry and buff.
Repeat over each area of the floor. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, you can add a few drops of essential oil in a scent you like.
Homemade Wax & Cleaner for Finished Wood
Avoid wax polishes on laminate wood surfaces. This recipe can add a lot of extra shine and protection to your wood.
- 2 ounces grated beeswax
- 5 ounces turpentine
Mix thoroughly. The turpentine does the cleaning and shining (and melts the beeswax), and the beeswax adds a nice light layer of protection.
Wax can build up, so you may not want to use this recipe often. But once in a while, furniture can benefit from that layer of protection.
You may find using this recipe once a year and one of the others the rest of the time is the right balance. This recipe is also good for outdoor wood furniture, which can definitely benefit from some waxy protection.
Let this one sit overnight, then buff it the next morning.
Wax & Cleaner #2
This polish contains a little beeswax, but also some oils. Some people feel this recipe is the best of both worlds – oil and wax. Others prefer one of the “lighter” recipes above.
- 1 part walnut oil or canola oil
- 1 part grated beeswax
- 1 part linseed oil
- 1-2 drops lemon oil
Heat the beeswax to melt it. Then mix everything together thoroughly and use like the other recipes.
For unfinished wood:
Unfinished wood has slightly different needs than finished wood. It needs more protection than vegetable oil provides.
- 1 cup mineral oil
- Optional: 1 teaspoon lemon oil or any other fragrance
The lemon oil is actually just for fragrance – straight mineral oil will do a nice job of polishing unfinished wood all by itself. As with the last recipe, just put it in a sprayer so you can apply it evenly.