I can remember the first piece of furniture I ever picked out for myself. It was actually a set—a light wood futon and coffee table—perfect for the recently graduated new professional I was eager to become. I remember the first time I dusted it—wiping away the dust bunnies with a kind of indignant force I usually reserved for much more severe offenses. I also remember the first time it got scratched and how fiercely I buffed until the marring was barely visible.

Back then, I paid full price for my wood polish, never suspecting a cheaper and even better option lurked right inside my own cabinets. Read on to learn how to polish any wood item with all-natural, kid-safe, pet-safe, ingredients you probably already own!

Why homemade is better

Apart from the obvious—saving moula!—making homemade cleaning supplies is also safer. This can be especially critical in homes with kiddos or pets. With the homemade recipes listed here, you get 100% eco-friendly cleaners with no unpronounceable chemicals, skin irritants, or artificial fragrances. What could be better?!

Note: Wherever you see "olive oil" in the ingredients list, you can also use canola oil, mineral oil, jojoba oil, or another similar oil you have on hand. The oil is the nourishing agent that helps dry wood recapture its shine.

1. "Pledge" recipe

Love the lemony scent of Pledge wood polish but don't want to pay for branding? Here’s a recipe to give you all the Pledge goodness for a fraction of the price!

Ingredients

  • Small, whole, fresh lemon ($0.33)
  • Olive oil (cheaper is better here—go for the $2.00, 8 oz bottle at Walmart)

Price estimate (per batch)

$0.17 + $0.50 = $0.67

Directions

  1. Juice the lemon and strain out pulp and seeds.
  2. Combine ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ cup olive oil into a jar or spray bottle and shake.
  3. Pour out a small amount onto a soft cloth and watch your wood come to life with shine!

Note: The lemon juice makes this a perishable recipe, so make only what you need weekly for polishing.

2. "Orange Glo" recipe

Enjoy breathing in the fresh scent of orange and don't want to give it up by switching to homemade? Now you don't have to!

Ingredients

  • Small, fresh, whole orange ($0.33)
  • Olive oil ($2 for 8 oz bottle)
  • Vanilla extract ($2.75 for 1 oz bottle)

Price estimate (per batch)

$0.17 + $0.50 + $0.05 = $0.72

Directions

  1. Juice the orange and strain out pulp and seeds.
  2. Combine ¼ cup orange juice with ½ cup olive oil and 2-3 drops of vanilla extract into a jar or spray bottle and shake.
  3. Add a few strips of peel for extra orange oomph.
  4. Dab a bit onto a soft cloth when you’re ready to polish.

3.  Squeaky clean recipe

This recipe combines the nourishment of oil with the antibacterial power of vinegar—a squeaky clean machine in action!

Ingredients

  • White vinegar ($2.38 for 1 gallon)
  • Olive oil ($2 for 8 oz bottle)
  • 1-2 drops scented essential oil (if desired)

Price estimate (per batch)

$0.07 + $0.50 = $0.57

Directions

  1. Combine ¼ cup white vinegar with several drops of olive oil and pour into a jar or spray bottle (best if you have it on hand).
  2. The vinegar is a deodorizer but if you prefer another scent, you can use anything from peppermint to tea tree to lavender oil to "dress it up" to your liking.
  3. Spritz onto furniture and polish with a soft cloth.

4. Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise isn’t just tasty on sandwiches and in salads and dressings. It’s also a natural for polishing your furniture to a high shine! Surprised? Give it a try and marvel at the results.

Price estimate

 $2.50 for 12 oz Kraft bottle = $0.11 per polish

Directions

Dab a bit of mayo on a soft cloth and gently rub into the wood.

5. Black tea

Brewed black tea contains tannic acid—a naturally occurring cleanser that lifts residue and old stains effortlessly away from your precious wood, leaving it shiny and like new.

Price estimate

$2.78 for 48 Lipton black tea bags = $0.23 per batch of polish

Directions

  1. Brew 2-4 tea bags (depending on how much polishing you need to do) in boiling water until the tea is nice and strong.
  2. Allow the water to cool. Pour some of the cooled tea into a spray bottle or jar.
  3. Use a soft cloth to polish your furniture.

6. Walnuts

Walnuts can be a bit pricier than the other options listed here, but when your polishing efforts uncover a stubborn scratch that mars the wood's surface, a single walnut can literally save the day.

Price estimate

$2.98 for Diamond of California 4 oz bag shelled walnuts = $0.05 per scratch

Directions

Take a walnut half and rub it gently across the scratched area.

Note: Walnuts work best for scratches in lighter wood—for darker wood scratches, try a brown crayon! Also, if anyone in your household has a nut allergy, use walnuts only with a doctor's permission.

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