It's tempting to start painting as soon as you bring something home or the mood strikes.
But more often then not, this can lead to a host of problems without the proper cleaning and prep. Grease, oil, cleaning product residue are natural repellers designed to push paint off the surface which can result in paint chipping or flaking if their not properly removed before painting.
Cleaning furniture is a small effort for big results. My go-to arsenal for this starts with a vacuum, a whisk broom, or a couple older paintbrushes, and a scrubby pad.
Keeping all your furniture cleaning supplies together in a small bucket is a big help so you don't have to collect everything each time you need it.
Like when painting, I recommend cleaning from the inside out. Pull out drawers, get inside cupboards and don't forget -- always check underneath the piece. I've met more creepy crawlies on the underside of furniture than I care to recall. Vacuum, whisk and/or use a dry or slightly dampened paintbrush to brush dirt and dust away. Especially those sneaky piles in corners and crevices. Once you've cleaned away the loose bits, get your bucket ready!
My go-to cleaner is eco-friendly, all natural Real Milk Paint Citrus Solvent (once you try it, you'll never want to use anything else). At full strength it is a green, safe replacement for turpentine, paint thinner and mineral spirits. It's an excellent cleaner and degreaser made from 98% pure citrus peel and 2% water. It's so effective I now also use it diluted in my home especially in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Fusion Mineral Paint's TSP Alternative is another eco-friendly option for cleaning.
Like Citrus Solvent, a little goes a long way! Dilute a capful into a small bucket of water and get to cleaning. It will remove oil, grease, fingerprints and stains and is safe to use on all surfaces. Fusion's TSP is significantly different to ordinary store-bought TSP which needs extensive rinsing and can leave a film that will resist paint.
If your project is a previously painted piece, you will want to check for a wax finish by dragging your fingernail along the surface. If there's wax, it should come off under your nail. To remove the wax before painting use full strength Citrus Solvent and a scrubby sponge. It's a much easier job then some say with these two handy tools!
Contrary to popular belief, it's not a a good idea to sand before cleaning. This can cause surfaces to gum up and create a bigger mess. Recommended steps are clean, sand, clean again...paint (or prime then paint).
Kitchen cupboards and tabletops are notorious for fingerprints, grease stains and oils, so be sure to take extra care when cleaning. It doesn't hurt to wash them twice!
Here's a handy little chart to help with most projects
And here is a quick video going over some of these furniture cleaning tips:
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