Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Sanitizing wood


QUESTION: Dear Eileen,
   I just bought an old house with beautiful wood cabinets in the kitchen. They look wonderful with a very dark finish. I have 2 problems:
1. The house stood empty for 9 months and the kitchen had mouse droppings all over it. I have wiped everything down but I would like to really sanitize the wood surfaces, but I don't want to ruin the finish. Any suggestions on safe products? (I can send photos if you need them, I just need my cable which is at the new place and I am at the old this morning)
2. For some bizarre reason the previous owners stuck vinyl floor tiles on to part of this beautiful wood, I want to remove them but again don't want to damage the beautiful old finish. A hair dryer was suggested to warm the tiles up and get them to pop up. Think that is a good place to start?
Thank you for any help!

ANSWER: Hi Melinda
Nice to hear from you.
Yes first try a hair dryer to soften these tiles.
If that fails, you may need a heat gun.
Let me know if you will use a heat gun and never tried one before.
I don't want you getting burnt (or the wood LOL)
Nothing wrong with using a mild javex solution to sanitize the wood but work in small areas, wring your cloth out (not dripping), and dry well as you go.
Do not leave the wood wet or it will cloud.
Good luck with your new old house.

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QUESTION: Dear Eileen,
 The hair dryer worked great, the tile came off super easy without much heat at all. It did however leave a real sticky gooey residue that doesn't seem to dry. I've been trying a product called "Goof Off" and it's working to some degree but I'm not totally happy with the results and I have to be careful because Goof off will take off the finish if you use too much, rub too hard or leave it on too long. Do you know of something safer? I've had suggestions of Rubbing Alcohol and WD40 are these good? Is there anything you would not use?
  Also they don't seem to sell Javex in Wisconsin is any type of bleach OK?
Thank you so much!

Hi again Melinda
So glad to hear the dryer did the trick.
My go to product to remove this glue is Mineral spirits (called varsol in Canada). Available at any hardware store.
Pour some in a small dish, dip a rag in it and rub the areas with glue.
No smoking while doing this LOL.
I was so glad you sent the pictures. Now I see your cupboards. They are oak I think.
And I have changed my mind about what to do with the wood after seeing it.
While you are at the hardware, get a small can of "MINWAX OIL STAIN" in "Special Walnut" color"
You have already washed the wood so now you dip a rag in the stain and wipe on. Not dripping but just wipe a thin coat on. Not only will this remove any smell but it will hide any nicks and scratches and make the cupboards look as new. This will take a good while to dry so don't panic.
Let me know when this is done and maybe send a pic.

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Eileen Cronk


I can answer most questions about the repairing and refinishing of all your old furniture items (the things we call antiques). I can also give you advice on what wood items to choose and what wood items to avoid at auctions, flea markets etc. I DO NOT give appraisals on antiques as this is not my field of expertise.


I have been repairing, refinishing and of course buying old furniture for the past 30 years. On any given weekend I can be found at auction sales or flea markets searching out a good buy. I have taken several courses in this area over the years, but I find "Hands On" learning to be the best teacher. I can help you avoid the pitfalls and problems of this wonderful rewarding craft.

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