How to Clean Painted Furniture

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Dust painted furniture weekly and spot-clean dirty areas with a damp lint-free cloth. Always use as little moisture as possible on painted wood or particle-board furniture to help prevent water damage.

Cleaning Without Water

A thorough dusting helps keep painted furniture of all types clean. Use a feather duster or microfiber cloth to remove dust, cobwebs or even pollen from painted furniture without damaging the finish. For areas that may be hard to dust, such as louvered cabinet doors, vacuum the furniture with either the crevice tool or upholstery brush attachment -- whichever seems most effective for the task at hand. If the paint seems delicate or likely to chip or flake if you vacuum it, gently wipe corners and crevices with dry cotton swabs instead.

Cleaning With Water

Step 1

Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 2 cups warm water to make a general cleaner good for painted surfaces. Add a squirt of liquid dish soap for extra cleaning power, if desired.

Step 2

Dip a lint-free white cloth or a sponge into the vinegar solution, wringing out most of the moisture. Wipe down the painted furniture with the cloth or sponge.

Step 3

Rinse and wring out the cloth or sponge; then wipe the furniture down again to remove soapy residue. Allow the furniture to air dry, or pat it dry with a white lint-free cloth if the piece seems too wet to dry quickly on its own.


If you're cleaning painted wicker or rattan furniture made from natural plant fibers, allow the piece to dry for at least several days before sitting on it or placing objects upon it; otherwise, the fibers may stretch.

Dealing With Spills

Clean up spilled substances as soon as possible for the easiest cleanup.

  • Blot spilled liquids right away with folded paper towels. Blot, rather than wipe, the area to prevent spreading the liquid.
  • For spilled foods and substances of similar consistency, grab a spoon, paper towel or rubber scraper to remove as much of the mess as possible; then wipe the area with a damp sponge.
  • Clean the area after removing the liquid, food or sticky substance with a scrubby sponge dipped in warm water with a squirt of dish soap. Rinse the sponge and wipe the area down again after wringing out most of the moisture.

Outdoor Painted Metal Furniture

Hose off metal outdoor furniture that is in good shape, with no chipped paint. Dip a soft scrub brush into a bucket of warm water containing a squirt or two of dish soap or an eco-friendly all-purpose soap; then scrub down the furniture. Rinse off the furniture with a hose; then pat it mostly dry with a soft towel or rag.


Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.

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