Polish old wooden furniture with coconut oil

So the ancient wooden teacher’s desk in my office is about a hundred years old. Ha, actually, I don’t know, but it looks it. E. and I bought it via that ancient communication device known as newspaper over ten years ago when we were first starting our online fabric shop. It’s had a long, hard life, and definitely needs some stripping and refinishing care someday soon.

When we moved it into my office from the shop, I gave it a good washing down with Murphy’s Oil Soap (which I really like for the kitchen cabinets), but though it was cleaner, it didn’t look much better. I’ve insisted, funnily enough – and largely out of habit, on using drink coasters amidst hundreds old water rings, and would dust it up now and then with Don Aslett’s Wood to Wood.

I pinned a couple of ideas a while back that I thought might help, and today I was able to try both of them out. This pin says a mixture of vinegar and olive oil will revive your old furniture. While this pin claims coconut oil and some furniture wax will do the trick. Hmm, why not try both? I didn’t have furniture wax, but I thought some coconut oil couldn’t hurt.

First I cleared off my two printers, work junk, computer, keyboard, wacom tablet (are you kidding, Amazon? That price is insane, I got mine years ago for a buck forty-five), and mouse. Then, I took a picture of the poor desktop in all its glory.

Polish your old, dinged up, wooden crap with coconut oil.  It works!


I spooned out a big glob of Nutiva coconut oil. (HANDY TIP: Walmart carries a nicely priced big tub of coconut oil!). Good for my face, good for my desk.

Polish your old, dinged up, wooden crap with coconut oil.  It works!

I used one of my microfiber cleaning cloths and just rubbed it in with the grain all over, getting along the edges of the desktop as well. I used a dry microfiber cloth to kind of buff it afterwards. It felt a little greasy to the touch, so I let it sit for a bit. After maybe a half hour to 45 minutes, it was dry to the touch and looking so much improved.

HEY! Not too shabby!

It was hard to get a photo, but here’s a pretty good one with all my junk moved back onto it:

Polish your old, dinged up, wooden crap with coconut oil.  It works!

You’ll note that it’s not a miracle or anything, the poor desk does need to be refinished at some point, but what an improvement! The wood looks rich again, and I can trick myself into thinking all the imperfections are just super-desirable patina.

I did not have any furniture wax, so I just left it at that. Straight up coconut oil. For the drawer fronts I decided to try the other pin’s suggestion of vinegar and olive oil to compare results. I mixed up 1/4 cup white vinegar with 3/4 cup olive oil. Hum.

I had to keep stirring it, otherwise it would separate. I dabbed a microfiber cloth into the mixture and rubbed it on, then kind of buffed it in as I’d done with the top.

After three hours, the drawer fronts are still kinda greasy to the touch. The coconut oil definitely seeped in easier, and was overall easier to work with. But, it had a very similar effect:

Polish your old, dinged up, wooden crap with coconut oil.  It works!

I liked the coconut oil method best, so I decided to use it again on the desk’s pull out thingies. You know, those things that are like breadboards? To extend your desk surface? I love them, I can rest my right arm on one while I draw or use the mouse and it helps keep my carpal tunnel pain. But they were really trashed:

Polish your old, dinged up, wooden crap with coconut oil.  It works!

A big hunk of coconut oil rubbed in, and voila!

Polish your old, dinged up, wooden crap with coconut oil.  It works!

Well. I had to clean my whole office after that. Complete with vacuuming. Where is my cookie? Also, hooray for Pinterest! I am pretty picky with my pins, I only pin stuff I think I will actually try / make / cook, and ignore the ones that seem like good ideas but I know I won’t ever, ever do. Have you tried anything from Pinterest lately that worked well for you? These Pinterest Fail sites crack me up:


  1. says

    We just put in butcherblock counters in the kitchen (well, most of it, still waiting for Ikea to get more in stock for the last corner) and we read you should oil them nightly until they stop sucking up so much oil, then every 2-3 months. We have been using mineral il, slather it on, and leave it overnight. Wipe what’s left off in the morning. They sure are pretty!

    • says

      Oooh, I wish we could do this! I hate my laminate counters & I just love the look of butcher block. Fun!!

  2. says

    Is there anything coconut oil does not take care of?

    I wish it could come to my house and convince my daughter to quit throwing fits at bedtime…

    Wait. That’s the sleep deprivation and rage talking.

    Clearly coconut oil has its limits.

    • says

      I read this right before one of mine came in from outside crying over some great-seeming injustice, and I half wondered if I ought to try swiping some coconut oil on them. Just to see, you know.

  3. says

    I used coconut oil on furniture once, but my dogs kept licking it, so never again.

    • says

      Ha ha ha! You are kidding! None of the animals seem to have noticed. Maybe it’s because my office reeks of Tea Tree oil which I keep slathering on my two gigantic zits. They hate that stuff.

  4. says

    I’m not kidding! My dogs love coconut oil, and licked and licked. Maybe I didn’t rub it in well enough :)

    • says

      So funny! My goats do love it when its on my hands, they lick all my fingers, so I believe it!

    • says

      I had to try it on B’s dresser last night. We hatched chicks there and the incubator leaked and wrecked the finish. It looks amazing! I’m totally sold. :o)

  5. Emerald says

    My most favorite pintrest win was getting the bathtub grout to turn white again. I ordered the cotton coil used on the pin from amazon because I had tried just dumping bleach before. It worked! and I didn’t have to move to get away from the mold, which I was seriously contemplating.

    Biggest pintrest fail was the vinegar and baking soda to blow up balloons.

    I am a pin-a-holic but the ones I actually try have to have some semblance of logic behind them.

    • says

      Oh good to know! That idea looked awesome.

      My friend did the vinegar baking soda for balloons at a birthday party activity and had success, but I think they only did two.

  6. Tasha L. says

    I have the same policy with my pins, and I have to admit when I saw that you had pinned the coconut oil idea, I thought it would be too expensive to use coconut oil. I guess a little goes a long way? The desk looks so much nicer!

    • says

      Yes, I was rather sorry to use my good Nutiva oil, in the future I’d get the big jars at Walmart and use that for furniture needs. But a little does go a long way. It’s a big old teacher’s desk, and I’d say 1/4 cup would have done the whole thing if I hadn’t done the olive oil on the fronts.

      That said, I gave the olive oil / vinegar another buffing and it’s no longer tacky to the touch, and looks just as well. The coconut oil is just easier. I’d leave the vinegar out altogether, the olive oil is probably all that gone on there in my mixture.

  7. says

    I tried planting seeds in toilet paper tubes, and it seems to be working! Apparently they can be planted straight into the ground, and the tubes will break down. Here’s hoping that part works, too.

    • says

      I did that last year! It does work! I got some mushrooms and mold growth on the sides of mine before they got planted — just due to the high moisture of getting watered and how LONG I had to wait for our last frost date, but I’d just scrape it off, and they all did fine. :o)


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