Cleaning furniture

I bought some furniture off ebay and it’s in fine condition but a lot of pieces have tons of ink on them and they are filthy to handle. I have tried to wipe them down with a general degreasing cleaner but still after the 5th try I’m still getting ink off them. I guess the person I bought them from didn’t know how to do a good wash up of their chase.

Without getting into a toxic wash up, is there a suggested cleaner or method for getting thick ink residue off of furniture? Thanks!

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If the furniture is metal try a hot solution of washing soda and a nail brush. It can be quite strong (unless you are in America, in which case rather less than quite!) and even boiling. Then rinse it well.

If it is resalite, ask someone else!

The other responder assumed it was metal furniture. I assume it is wooden.
I wash wooden furniture in water with soap. I use TSP. It isn’t what I consider toxic, but it can be harsh on delicate hands (not mine). Rubber gloves may be in order. Use a stiff scrub brush some place where you can splatter without a problem. Eye protection is always wise if you are going to splatter.
If you don’t have TSP or don’t want to get some at the hardware store, what do you have under your kitchen sink? Try Simple Green, 409, ammonia. Laundry detergent will work too.
You don’t need to get all the embedded ink out of the wood. Just the sticky stuff.
After thoroughly dry (days perhaps) give the now clean wood a rub with oil. Furniture or mineral.

I wonder why so much ink on there anyway. As a former professional, I strongly suspect
the previous sue of parrafin as being cheap. The resulting sludge created awful problems in
those shops that allowed it. I’even seen a mix of parraffin with water for wash up of the forme in one or two very backward houses - ugh!

The trade certainly would have used what they called ‘lye’ . I’m sorry to advise that this was
certainly caustic soda - nasty stuff to be used with very great care, gloves goggles and so forth,
not that they bothered much in the old days. This was a commonly used material for cleaning out halftones that had been put away inadequately cleaned. In the blockmaking trade it was used HOT (heaven help us) to de-grease the zinc sheet at the beginning of the process.

Today , one might try an organic solvent - lively stuff but not quite so nasty. Think about how
you would strip house paint, pinting inks were closely related, being ‘oil’ based = linseed oil or its synthetic equivalent.
J. Stafford-Baker The Happy Dragons Press

Updated. We used boiling lye and a scrubbing brush at my school where I learnt to print over 50 years ago. No protection, of course: health and safety wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of our masters!

When I have to clean up second hand type I find that WASHING SODA (NOT CAUSTIC) in boiling water works pretty well. Small quantities I put into a saucepan with the solution and bring to the boil. Then a little scrubbing and it is almost good as new. Definitely do not do this with caustic soda, though!

I agree with Mr Stafford-Taylor that paint stripper would probably work very well and be a lot less messy and far safer.

I use white spirit in the printing office to clean type and rollers after each run, what do other people use?

White spirit every time, I would not advise anything else for ordinary (“oil based”) letterpress or litho inks. It was most definitely what was used in my own facory and all those I managed down the years.

Before I left it when I got fed up with the continuous flaming and “Me too times ninety nine” inanity that was cluttering it up, there were frequent reference on Letpress to using lye as the standard method of cleaning type.

If anyone wants to try it, it is easily made by soaking wood ash, and you’ll find instructions for doing this on the soapmaking groups, as lye and tallow - made from animal fat - are standard ingredients for making soap the traditional pre-industrial-era way.


i am wondering if a homemade recipe for cleaning such as vinager and lemon juice would help?

Wood contains natural oils that will be removed by using some of the cleaning suggestions offered here. Using hot water cleaning solutions is a good way to induce swelling of the wood, too. Harsh chemicals will make the wood more receptive to getting dirty again as it will be dried out and will contain less of the oils that help it to repel ink. Cleaning furniture should be done with oil-based solvents that are low in VOCs and drying agents. If you must use other stuff, follow that up by wiping the furniture with turpentine which will replenish the wood.