Fool-Proof Tips for Cleaning Wood Surfaces

To keep the wood surfaces in your home clean and beautiful without damage, you need to consider the kind of wood and the treatment it receives.

General Cleaning for Wood Furniture and Paneling

One of the first rules of cleaning wood is this: never soak it with water.

Wood is porous, and applying water will swell the pores. Water can also damage many types of finishes – the proof is that most of us have a table or desk with tell-tale rings on them left by wet cups.

While dusting with a barely-damp cloth shouldn’t harm painted wood surfaces, any application of water to oiled, lacquered, or unfinished wood is likely to leave permanent, disfiguring marks.

Opt instead for a dry dusting cloth, or use the dusting attachment on your vacuum cleaner to keep wood furniture and paneling clean.

Dry or Damp Wood Dusting Cloth
Use A Dusting Cloth Like This

Can You Clean Wood With Vinegar?

It isn’t a good idea to clean wood with pure, undiluted vinegar. In addition to leaving water marks, the acid in the vinegar could “eat” certain kinds of finishes.

However, for polishing wood, a homemade treatment of half olive oil and half white vinegar can buff up stained and oiled wood finishes nicely. Simply apply with a soft clean cloth and rub in well. Blot off any excess with a second cloth.

How To Clean Wood Floors With Vinegar

  • Add a cup of white vinegar to your mop bucket for extra grease-cutting power. Don’t let pools of water stand on the wood afterwards, or you may wind up with water marks, especially on darker woods.
  • Stand on a towel and “walk” it around the room to wipe up any excess water.

While vinegar can be safe, DON’T use other solvents like alcohol, ammonia, or acetone-these will damage your furniture or even strip off the paint.

How To Clean Wood Floors (without vinegar)

Don’t want to use vinegar? Follow these steps to clean your hardwood floors like a pro:

  1. Clear The Space. First, clear the room of any furniture that is easily moveable. Chairs get in the way and are easy to move.
  2. Dust The Floor. Begin by sweeping or dusting your floor with a microfiber mop. Use a microfiber mop instead of a broom. This will trap dust and allergens instead of pushing it around the room. Be sure to keep the mop on the floor so you don’t release any dirt. You won’t use water in this first step.wet and dry microfiber mop
  3. Apply Hardwood Cleaner. Next, you’ll lightly spray the floor with hardwood floor cleaner.hardwood floor cleaner
  4. Mop The Floor. Use a dampened wet microfiber mop pad (included in this kit) and walk it back and forth in direction of the grain. Be sure the mop isn’t dripping wet and clean up any standing water right away. It only needs to be slightly damp.

How To Polish Your Wood Floors

Want your floor to really shine? You’ll need to polish it. This doesn’t have to be done every time you clean the floor. Once every 3 months is the recommended schedule. It will really make your floor look great and protects it at the same time!

  1. Follow the steps above for cleaning your floors.
  2. Shake the hardwood polish well and spray on the floor in an “S” pattern.hardwood floor polish
  3. Use a clean microfiber pad to massage the polish into the wood against the grain.
  4. Smooth the surface with the grain.

It helps to polish your floors in small sections and be sure to start in one corner and end in a spot where you won’t have to walk over the floor for an hour. Avoid heavy traffic for 24 hours if possible. If your hardwood is heavily worn or old, you may need to think about refinishing it. Enjoy your great looking floor!

Types Of Waxes For Wood Surfaces

Adding a shine to wood furniture, especially antiques or exotic woods, is as easy as applying some wax. Waxes made specifically for wood furniture are designed to provide extra protection from moisture, dust, and stains as well as a pleasing soft sheen. Even better, if you want to refinish your furniture at any point, wax will not cause problems.

Liquid waxes are the easiest to apply, and often dry quickly, but you may need to apply more than one coat to really see results in terms of both looks and protection. The results from liquid wax usually last up to four months, depending on how much wear your furniture gets.

Paste waxes offer superior, long-lasting protection to fine wood furniture. It isn’t necessary to apply more than one coat to most woods, but the extra effort can take your wood from looking good to looking great. The hard, shiny finish given by paste wax is well worth your time for treating lacquered and oiled woods.

How To Remove Water Stains On Wood

As with stains on carpet, it’s best to treat water stains on wood as soon as possible after they happen. Blot up any excess moisture and try one of the following home remedies, depending on what you have lying around the house:

  • Apply shaving cream. Leave for 5 minutes and wipe up.
  • Apply real mayonnaise on a cloth. Let rest on the stain for up to 10 minutes and wipe off.
  • Gently apply metal cleaner. Leave for 5 minutes and wipe away excess.

All-In-One Wood Cleaners

Finally, many products are available that treat wood while cleaning it. These products, while effective for painted, sealed, and laminated wood surfaces, should be tested in an inconspicuous place on unsealed or oiled woods before trying. These cleaners can be a convenient and effective solution for wood surfaces in areas that are frequently soiled, such as kitchens or bathrooms. Try products from Bona, specially designed to clean sealed woods. Check out our recommended wood cleaning kit below.

This Kit Has Everything You Need!

How To Decorate For The Holidays

Don’t find yourself so overwhelmed with preparations and repairs that by the time the holidays are over, you’re left with the feeling that you didn’t have a chance to sit down and simply enjoy them.

holiday centerpiece

It’s that time of year when decorating, preparing bountiful feasts and hosting friendly get-togethers are uppermost in many people’s minds.  It’s also a period of potential stress and frustration when people realize their to-do lists are long and the time to accomplish everything on them is short.

Don’t find yourself so overwhelmed with preparations and repairs that by the time the holidays are over, you’re left with the feeling that you didn’t have a chance to sit down and simply enjoy them.

Plan Ahead

  1. Find a quiet time free of distractions and sit down with a cup of cider or the beverage of your choice and a notepad.
  2. Make a list of everything you’d like to accomplish during the holiday season.
  3. Then take a second look.  Prioritize, and be realistic.
  4. Set aside those things that can’t reasonably be accomplished by the end of the year, and focus on those that can.

New furnishings or other big purchases are nice, but save those change-ups for later. Instead spruce up the details.

Now is not the time for repainting an entire room.

Focus instead on the smaller, more specific things your guests will notice.  Right away, you’ve narrowed your expectations and saved yourself some worrying.

Consider the amount of time you have available versus the amount of tasks to be handled, and allot the time accordingly.  Be realistic, and don’t try to overreach your limitations.

When you feel that impulse to tackle something big, remind yourself that your family and your friends will value the time they spend with you far more than they will remember overly extravagant decorations or new carpeting or food with fancy names they can’t pronounce.

Heading the list should be the simple task of de-cluttering.  It’s amazing how items manage to stack up in such a stealthy way that, somewhere along the way, you’ve stopped even noticing it.

Begin With The Front Porch & Entryway

Are there planters housing last summer’s dead geraniums? A coat rack inside the door playing host to far too many items?

Conduct a quick perusal of every flat surface in your home:

  • Magazines on coffee tables?
  • Bottles of lotions and soaps on the bathroom vanity?
  • Knickknacks taking up space on kitchen counters?

Less Is More

Remember, less is always more impressive.

This holds true with holiday decorations as well.  Go minimal:

Here are a few more holiday spruce up tips to keep in mind:

  • If some re-painting is in order, pick smaller projects in areas that your guests are more likely to notice.
  • Replace outdoor light bulbs with ones of higher wattage. This is an easy task that will instantly change the look of the outside of your house.
  • New bathroom towels and a fresh soap bottle changes up a bathroom significantly.  If you want to go an extra step, consider new fixtures or perhaps a new mirror.
  • Consider safety over style.   What are the potential hazards that might trip up a guest? (those things you are now so accustomed to stepping over or avoiding that they no longer seem threatening to you)
  • Is there a door that sticks?  Tile or carpeting coming loose?  Precariously hung paintings or mirrors?
  • Will there be a fire in your fireplace, and if so, how sturdy is the screen, and how long has it been since you’ve have someone clean the flue?

Decide which tasks you have the time and capability to handle yourself, then begin to delegate the rest.

Remember, these are your holidays too. Don’t spend too much of them with a paintbrush or screwdriver in hand at the expense of enjoying time with friends and family!

Handyman Matters and its craftsmen stand ready to help in any way they can with repairs, remodels, hanging decorations and lights or even assisting with putting up trees.

Tips On Making Your Home More Secure

Your house is your home, your fortress of safety.

It’s a place where you keep your most important belongings: your checkbooks, your jewelry, your heirlooms, your important documents and most importantly, your family.

Everybody has the right to feel safe in their own home.

The saying goes that a man’s home is his castle, and of course the first purpose of a castle is to be strong and secure enough to resist would-be intruders, and prevent them from getting inside.

There are simple things you can do to safeguard your house, most of which you probably do already: lock your doors, lock your windows and keep lights on when you are away.

But there are also more extensive things you can do, things that are sure to leave you, and your house, feeling a little bit safer.

The following are some tips on securing your doors, windows, patio doors and more in order to make your home and valuables as safe as possible.

Conduct A Quick Scan Of Your Yard And Entryway

  • Are the yard and pathways free of sight-line blocking branches and shrubbery?
  • What kind of lighting illuminates your property?  Is it motion-senor activated?
  • Do the exterior lights you leave on in your absence all-encompassing?
  • Do your neighbors have a good view of your lawn and walkway, to discourage lurking intruders?

Secure Your Doors

Doors are a burglar’s preferred method of entry. A deadbolt lock will provide a good degree of security for your front door. Poorly secured patio doors or French doors can be an open invitation for burglars to break into your home, so it is vital to ensure they have reliable locks. As an added precaution, you can get a chain fitted to your front door, which should offer some further peace of mind.

If you have a letter slot in your front door, the slot should be no closer than 16 inches from the door lock, to prevent burglars reaching through and unlocking the door from the inside. If you are worried about mail theft, fit an internal cover plate or letter basket (with the bottom removed).

Get a Door Viewer

A door viewer, or peephole or spy hole as they are sometimes called, is an important addition to your home, particularly if you have children. By installing a door viewer, you are able to see who is at the front door before opening it.


Companies like Ring have come out with modern versions of the door viewer that allow you to see who is at your door from anywhere with your smartphone. This is great for kids as well, because they can’t always see through the peephole.


If this sounds useful, check out our Secure & Monitor Package.

Here are a few more technology-based home security ideas.

Get a Wrought Iron Door

When it comes to security, two doors are better than one. Installing a wrought iron door in your house, whether it’s in the front, back, or side of your house, is a great way to create an added level of security.  A simple wrought iron door gives burglars another obstacle to overcome, and another reason to leave your house alone.

Secure Your Windows

Windows can be vulnerable to burglars, so it is advisable to have locking devices fitted, particularly for ground floor windows or ones which lead on to balconies.

Remember to close all the windows whenever you leave the house, however briefly you go out for.

Additional Security


Motion or heat sensitive lighting is a good way to deter potential intruders, and such devices are now affordable and widely available. This is a great form of preventative security, as it means that burglars will be less likely to want to try breaking into your home in the first place.

You can also make things harder for burglars by keeping your garden open and trimming back bushes, meaning that they have nowhere to hide. Also, remember to put away any tools or ladders that might be outside, as it is important not to leave anything lying around that may actually help the burglar break in.

Finally, don’t be tempted to leave a spare set of keys under a plant pot or doormat, or hanging inside the mail box –burglars know all these tricks, and these are the first places they will check. Once they have your keys, a burglar will have an easy way to visit and re-visit your house at will until you have the locks replaced.

Make It Look Like You’re Home

Another easy preventative measure is to make your home appear occupied. Leave the lights on when you go out for an evening, or consider using some home automation if you are going to be away for a longer period.

Are there still people who go on vacation and allow mail and newspapers to stack up in front of their home?  Amazingly, yes.

Yet is there any clearer sign to passersby that people have been away from their house for an extended period than a collection of newspapers in the driveway, or envelopes jutting out of a mailbox?

You can contact both your postal carrier and newspaper delivery person to temporarily stop their service, but a better choice is to ask a friend or neighbor to stop by each day just long enough to collect the paper and mail and keep them for you until your return.

Get A Burglar Alarm

Yes, a burglar alarm may seem so “1980’s” but security never goes out of style. Not only do burglar alarms secure your house when you are away, such as on vacation, but they also keep you safe when you are home. Just telling others that they are there, such as with a sticker in your front door window or a sign on your front lawn, is a great deterrent.

Replace What is Broken

One of the most common reasons people are burglarized and assaulted is because of things that are broken and not fixed. Time after time, assailants are able to enter a house through a broken window or door that no longer locks. Do yourself and your family a favor and don’t wait to fix things: fix them immediately and sleep sound at night.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Hacks That Will Have You Giving Thanks

Is your kitchen conducive to cooking a holiday meal?  November through the New Year is typically when a storm of guests visit and dinners are enjoyed.  The sheer volume of everything is what catches most kitchens off guard.  Will the turkey fit in your oven?  If you run two appliances at once, will your fuse short-circuit?

Cooking requires a surprising amount of prep space, especially if you’re cooking multiple courses at a time.  Make sure you have enough kitchen resources to get your through the holidays.  Here are a few Thanksgiving kitchen hacks to help get you there…

Get an over the sink cutting board

Save counter space by overlapping your cutting board and your sink!

Hang pots and pans from the ceiling

Why sacrifice your cabinets when you can hang your pots from the ceiling like a chef?

Pot Hanger in Kitchen

Add temporary shelves

Another Thanksgiving kitchen hack is adding temporary stainless steel shelf as extra storage space for the holiday.

Kitchen Shelving

Install a kitchen island

With temporary or permanent island additions, you can increase the counter and storage space in your kitchen.Rolling Kitchen Island

Install extra, easy-access outlets

You’re going to be using a lot of appliances, make sure they have a convenient outlet to pug into.

Repair or replace your garbage disposal

A free flowing sink during food preparation is essential.  A clogged sink can seriously inhibit your ability to defrost a turkey, clean dishes, or to keep a clean kitchen.

Make sure your garbage disposal is prepared for leftovers and heavy use.

Increase the size of your sink

A lot of company means a lot of dishes.  Having a larger sink will help you get through cleanup quicker!

Large Kitchen Sink

Here at Handyman Matters, Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays.  Enjoy your guests and your home to it’s fullest by making sure you are fully prepared and ready for the holidays.  Get a jump-start on your to-do list today with these Thanksgiving kitchen hacks or help from one of our home improvement experts.