The most effective method for cleaning finished wood furniture depends largely on the finish; for example, clean painted wood furniture with dish soap diluted in water or detergent and wiped away with a clean cloth. Clean stained wood with a clean cloth dampened with a water-diluted dish soap mixture, and dry the wood immediately. Damp dust veneered wood to clean it. Clean waxed wood finishes using soap and water.
Varnished and lacquered wood furniture often requires cleaning by a professional. These types of finished wood can typically withstand mild cleaning using very gentle solutions and requires immediate drying. Dish soap is a good alternative to harsher wood cleaners and detergents because it is very gentle, does not harm the wood, and is effective at cutting through grease. Vinegar diluted in water is another good alternative to wood cleaners and detergents.
Always dry dust the wood before cleaning it to get rid of any easily removed dust or dirt. After cleaning wood furniture, finish the process by applying a layer of wax polish. Do not apply wax to wood furniture finished in lacquer, since the lacquer prevents the wax from penetrating and treating the wood. Liquid wax is usually the easiest type of wax to apply, but beeswax polish and paste wax last longer.