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Kids and nice stuff don’t mix. I mean, like not at all. When I was expecting my first child, we were gifted an amazing highchair that is made of beautiful solid wood and pulls right up to the table. I loved it because it meant our little ones could eat with us at the table instead of being stuck all by themselves in a highchair with a plastic tray.
…I now get why the plastic trays exist.
With our highchair, our little ones have to eat their food directly on the table which makes such a mess that I have to clean the table multiple times a day. I tried putting placemats down (which are promptly thrown to the floor), only offering food on plates or in bowls (the food never stays in them), and even tried only offering non-messy foods (infants can make anything a sticky mess). Nothing worked, so eating straight off the table was the only option.
Between art projects, starting seedlings, mealtimes, and other activities that surround our table, it gets pretty messy and needs to be cleaned…often. But the more I clean the table with soap, the more worn the wood looks. Wood cleaners and polishes work great for restoring the wood, but they’re often quite toxic. Take, for example, this one which is commonly used in homes and receives a grade of F from the EWG…yuck.
Now that my youngest is nearing 2 she is much better about using a placemat and eating from a plate. That said, there is still plenty of food that gets chewed up, placed on the wood table, and often chewed again! Since my toddler still eats right off the table it’s especially concerning what might be in the wood polish (and subsequently, going into her food and then her body).
So, into the kitchen I went where I developed this homemade wood cleaner recipe. It is safe, natural, and really works to both clean and condition wood.
- ½ C White Vinegar (just plain old white vinegar, or you can use ACV for darker woods, if you like)
- ¼ C Olive Oil (organic, extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Glycerin (optional, but a really great addition - non-GMO, organic vegetable glycerin)
- 20-30 drops Lavender Essential Oil (organic lavender essential oil)
Mix all ingredients in a glass spray bottle. Shake well before each use.
Spray on wood and rub with microfiber or other soft cloth.
How Does It Work?
Each ingredient has it’s own part in making this recipe both safe and effective. So, let’s dig into and dissect the ingredients in this homemade wood cleaner recipe…
Olive oil shines, moisturizes, and protects wood. Many people use mineral oil instead of olive oil, but I choose not to. Mineral oil is a petroleum product so it’s not natural or sustainable. Mineral oil does last longer than olive oil, but making smaller batches of this homemade wood cleaner can fix that problem easily. Learn more about different carrier oils that you could use in this recipe.
White Vinegar (or ACV)
Vinegar cuts through the greasy, grimy, yuckiness that gets stuck to the table after meals. It’s also mildly disinfecting. If you use this on dark woods apple cider vinegar is a great option.
Also a mild disinfectant, lemon juice adds a nice fresh scent to your new homemade wood cleaner.
Vegetable glycerin helps make wood shine and keeps the wood keep the shine longer. Although vegetable glycerin is optional in this recipe, I highly recommend it. In fact, Scratch Mommy Founder Jess uses vegetable glycerin in many of her DIY recipes (and in her Pronounce Skincare product line, too).
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender and lemon juice are a fantabulous combination for a subtle clean scent.
Caring For Wood Furniture
Knowing the finish of your wood is important in deciding how to care for the table. Many tables manufactured recently are a hard surfaced wood finish so you can use this recipe as often as you like.
Oil and wax finished tables need a more gentle cleaning routine. Usually just a simple soft cloth can remove dust and debris, while you should wet it for tougher messes.
Our table is an oiled wood table. Dusting gently with a damp cloth is usually enough, but since I have to scratch dried food off of it often(!), I have to do a little more. I use this recipe to clean the table and if the wood looks worn afterwards I add some pure olive oil and let it soak into the wood.
This safe, non-toxic recipe is so easy to make and I bet you have all of the ingredients laying around already!
Love this recipe? You will also love our DIY Non-Toxic Citrus Dusting Spray!
Looking for non-toxic skincare?
Shop Scratch Mommy Founder Jess’s skincare line – Pronounce Skincare® – for the finest in handcrafted skincare solutions. Created with certified organic ingredients that you can always…pronounce!