How to Take Care of Your Solid Wood Dining Table

removing stains from a farmhouse table

Your farmhouse table is the show piece of your dining area.  And while a solid wood table is sturdy and durable, it still needs some love and attention (don’t we all?) in order to look its best while maintaining its rustic appearance and character.

The good news is even the most basic forms of regular care will have your table lasting years.  With just a little upkeep, your table will be the place family and friends gather to share meals and socialize for generations to come.

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your table looking it best without much effort.

Start with prevention

The first thing to be mindful of is the room where your table will call its home.  If there are big swings in temperature and humidity, it could lead to the table warping, shrinking, splitting, or cracking. Keeping room temperature consistent is imperative to prevent the table from experiencing structural damage.

Avoid direct sunlight if possible. Drapery and shades will help mute the sunlight, just be sure there are no leaks where a sustained, direct beam hits the table for a prolonged period of time.

Also, keep your table away from direct heat sources such as radiators, wood stoves, or forced hot air vents.  This will go a long way in keeping excessive heat exposure away from your table.

Spills and Stains

Wood is absorptive, so therefore it is sensitive to many substances. Do you best to clean or blot all spills immediately as they can damage the finish if left to sit too long.

Here’s an article about removing stains if you don’t catch them quickly enough.

Don’t risk damage to your wood table by placing containers with chemicals like nail polish remover, paint thinner, or even an open paint can directly on the table.  Better yet, try to avoid it completely. It’s a dining table after all.

Using placemats for your place settings and silverware help prevent scratches and marks from the temperature of your dishes.  Place hot serving plates on trivets or potholders, never directly on the table.


Routine dusting removes particles that settle on your table.  If this is let go for too long, a layer can build up leading to scratches on the surface. A clean, dry, soft cloth or feather duster can be effective as a first response against dust.

Best choices for dusting your rustic style wooden table include:

  • Feather duster – ostrich feather duster for delicate wooden surfaces.
  • Treated cloths – no scratch material that is treated to pick up and hold the dust.
  • Microfiber cloth – for a soft, even dusting (you can also polish with it).
  • Terry towel – remove moisture left if you use a wet cloth for dusting.
  • Lint free cotton – cloths like clean t-shirts and baby nappies.

Now that your table is dusted, it’s time to give it a good cleaning.  Here are five things you should not do when cleaning your solid wood table:

  1. Don’t use all-purpose cleaners as some contain bleach and other corrosive chemicals that corrode the solid wood stain finish.
  2. Don’t use too much water on the solid farmhouse table since it will soak in and damage the wood or at the least, leave a water stain.
  3. Don’t use a tough cloth or synthetic material that will grind the wood and cause small scratches.
  4. Don’t use a tough brush as this might scratch the table. A soft toothbrush can be used for hard to reach underside corners.
  5. Don’t lift the table on one side to reach the bottom as this weakens the base and leg joints.

Regular cleaning of your table will accentuate the wood’s look while protecting it from fading. To safely and caringly clean a solid wood table, follow these easy steps;

  • Treat sticky spots or congealed dirt with a mild soap and water solution.
  • Dampen a soft cloth in the soapy water and wring completely.
  • Wipe the areas softly allowing for the soap to loosen the dirty spot.
  • Rinse cloth in clean water and dry wipe the entire table.

Once your table is clean and dry, you can then proceed to polish it if you want. Pledge or Murphy’s Oil will be your best choices to get the job done right.

Just keep in mind, you don’t need to polish the table every time you clean it.

If your table isn’t used often (for example a dining room table only for holidays and family occasions) you may choose to just polish the table before get togethers. Even if it’s used more often, a quarterly polish may be all that’s needed.

Finally, waxing can be done once a year to provide a hard protective cover to the wood and keep it looking brand new.

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