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DIY Wood Polish Overload? Ask Annie

Submitted by on Monday, 9 November 2009No Comment

woodHI Annie.
I have been searching on the Internet for hours on this problem and I think you may finally be the one I can trust to answer it! I used a mixture of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup vegetable oil to clean all of the wood work in my house (over 3,000 square feet). I have since read that this is not a good idea as the oil can go rancid. Is there any truth to this and is there a way to counteract this from happening? I am so paranoid that I think I am imaging an awful smell in my house! Thanks for any help you can provide. Lynne

Dear Lynne,
Wow, that was a lot of work, all that polishing!

In all the testing I did of the old folk formulas, I never liked using as much oil as the formula you used. All of the formulas asked for at least half as much oil as vinegar, and many ask for more oil than vinegar. I turned all those formulas on their heads because I thought they made the wood too greasy (not to speak of the rancidity concern), so my formula asks for straight white distilled vinegar and a few drops of an oil that won’t go rancid very quickly, such as olive or linseed oil. Ideally, using a few drops of jojoba, a liquid wax, is an ever better solution, as it never goes rancid.

What type of oil did you use?

Regardless, what to do now? I’d wash everything with straight white, distilled vinegar. The vinegar will kill mold and bacteria, and cut through the grease. Just do a bit at a time so the house doesn’t get too overwhelmed with the smell. The smell will dissipate.

You can add the vinegar to a spray bottle to make the job a bit easier. Good luck!

By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).


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