How to clean an old wooden door?


I have purchased a vintage age wooden house entry door. It has multiple glass panels and original hardware. We are going to use it as a sliding barn door between two rooms in our basement -- more to offer privacy if someone wants to play XBox and others want to watch TV on our projector system. The door is in good shape, but is very dirty from storage over the years. It is unpainted but is stained, and I believe it has been poly-ed or otherwise varnished. I used plain water with Dawn and a scrub brush but it seems to not be removing the grime -- I literally wipe the surface with my hand after scrubbing and my hand is filthy. I don't want to use anything like a pressure washer as the glass would surely be broken. I am also hesitant to sand as this is going to remove the color and I would need to stain, etc. to restore.

So, do I clean as best I can and then varnish over the residual dirt? Any suggestions and product recommendations are welcome!

q how to clean an old wooden door
  4 answers
  • Recreated Designs Recreated Designs on Apr 08, 2019

    Hi Cindy. I have used two different products on projects like this. I like a water based tsp (Fusion Mineral Paint has one but so do a lot of other companies). I also have used Krud Kutter and it works very well. Both can be used with a soft scrub brush. Good luck!

  • Since you want to leave the original patina, and just clean up, try Murphy's Oil Soap. Then a good wood conditioner.

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Apr 08, 2019

    are you sure it's dirt coming off or is it the finish/stain? On really old pieces finish/stain will be like powder coming off it's from sitting out in the weather.Use a tack cloth & see then gently use a fine grit sand paper or steel wool lightly then a tack cloth again to see if it still does it. It's a beautiful door! as long as it is just color on your hand & not dusty on top you can seal it.Try micro fiber cloths they attract dust to them maybe that will help pull it off & vacuum it well can also oil it with tung oil but oils will change color usually darkening the wood.

  • William William on Apr 08, 2019

    Get it as clean as you can. Could be your actually lifting the stain or tannins in the wood. Seal it with shellac. Varnish won't work or last well.

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