Brown Concrete Cathedral

Complete Guide To Cleaning Wooden Church Pews

You don’t need harsh chemicals to clean wooden church pews. This guide will give you simple and easy steps, plus recommendations for safe cleaning solutions when it comes to cleaning a church.

Whether the pews in your place of worship are displaying signs of wear and tear, sticky fingerprints, or just a layer of dust, we’ll show you how to get them looking their best without risking damage to the wood.

Natural cleaning solutions are preferred for cleaning wooden church pews. They’re gentle, safe for people, and not to mention, the environment. Plus they don’t leave any harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that can harm churchgoers.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • Murphy’s Oil Soap: Cleans and conditions wood without stripping it of its natural oils.

  • Distilled water: This is used to dilute Murphy’s Oil Soap. It also prevents mineral deposits which can dull the finish.

  • 2x soft microfiber cloths: Lint-free cloths do not scratch the surface. As much as possible, go for these instead of dirty rags.

  • Mineral spirits (optional): A small amount of mineral spirits on microfiber cloth can work on sticky residues or grime, but this should be used sparingly and cautiously. Consult with a church cleaning company when in doubt.

  • Beeswax (optional): This is optional, but it helps restore shine and protects the wood after cleaning.

  • Soft-bristled brush (optional): If the church pews are engraved with intricate markings, a soft-bristled brush can get rid of trapped debris in the crevices.

Assess the finish

Determine the finish on the pews, as this determines the cleaning method you’ll use. It also avoids damaging the wood. Most pews either use a hard finish (varnish or lacquer) or an oil finish.

To determine, place a drop of water on a small area of the pew. If the water beads up, you likely have a hard finish. But if the water soaks in, you probably have an oil finish. 

Apply the cleaning solution with this mini step-by-step guide

man wiping wood furniture with a white cloth
  1. Now you’re ready to clean. For regular cleaning, dilute a few drops of Murphy’s Oil Soap with warm distilled water in a bucket or spray bottle. 

  2. Conduct a spot test before cleaning the entire pew. Test the solution on a hidden spot that’s not visible to churchgoers. This ensures you don’t damage or discolor the finish before fully proceeding with the clean.

  3. Dip the microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution and squeeze out excess water. Gently wipe the pews in the direction of the wood grain, working in sections. Be sure to wipe away any excess oil with a separate dry cloth (microfiber is preferred).

  4. Rinse and dry with another microfiber cloth dampened with plain water to remove soap residue. Dry the pews thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth to prevent moisture buildup and potential wood damage.

Does this method also work for old wooden church pews?

Yes! The steps we’ve provided are already tailored to a gentle cleaning approach. Always spot-test your cleaning solutions. Never use harsh, acidic cleaners as this could damage the finish and even accelerate material degradation.

Again, clean in the direction of the wood grain. This means scrubbing along the natural lines of the fibers which run the material’s length. Doing so prevents scratches and easily lifts any small, trapped dirt within its depressions.

Conclusion on cleaning wooden church pews

Cleaning old, wood pews isn’t rocket science. It just takes a few simple steps and gentle cleaning to preserve the material.

However, if your pews are particularly old, delicate, or heavily soiled, it’s always advisable to consult with a professional cleaning service like Craddock’s Cleaning Services. 

We specialize in cleaning services for churches or places of worship and can provide the expertise and care needed to restore the shine of different furniture materials in any place of worship.

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