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How to Remove Coal & Dust From Wood

Wood items--especially those without a protective finish--can easily be damaged by everyday dust or dust from sources like coal. Most coal dust contains silica, clay and limestone, in addition to coal particles. The silica particles have sharp edges that can damage wood during cleaning if you aren’t careful.

Improper dusting can damage delicate wood items.

Things You Will Need

  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Artist's brush
  • Microfiber dusting cloth
  • Spot remover, bleach or oxalic acid

Wood items--especially those without a protective finish--can easily be damaged by everyday dust or dust from sources like coal.  Most coal dust contains silica, clay and limestone, in addition to coal particles.

The silica particles have sharp edges that can damage wood during cleaning if you aren’t careful.  Other kinds of dust can also damage wood items if improperly cleaned.

The National Park Service publishes cleaning guidelines for safely removing dust from valuable wood items. 


Vacuuming and Brushing

  1. Vacuum the wood object using the brush extension for the vacuum. Make sure the brush is clean before sweeping it over the surface of the wood.
  2. Draw the brush of the vacuum gently across the wood surface in the direction of the wood grain.
  3. Use a small, handheld battery-operated vacuum to clean in small crevices along the wood's surface.
  4. Brush particularly delicate or detailed areas of the wood surface with a soft artist’s brush to remove any dust or coal particulates from those areas.

Cloth Dusting

  1. Use a soft microfiber cloth to clean dust and particulates from wood surfaces.
  2. Swipe the cloth across the wood in the direction of the grain.
  3. Fold the cloth between swipes so that you are always applying a clean surface to the wood.
  4. Switch dusting cloths often so that the dust they pick up doesn’t scratch the surface you are dusting. Wash the cloths separately from other laundry, to keep them free of lint.

Cleaning Coal Stains

  1. Clean rubbed-in coal stains from wood using a spot remover, bleach or oxalic acid.
  2. Use trial and error to find the solution that works best for the wood item and coal stain in question. You may need to do repeat applications of the product. If you notice improvement, but the stain doesn't entirely go away, then reapply. If you don't see any improvement, try something else.
  3. Sand and refinish the cleaned area, if needed, after the stain is removed.

Things You Will Need

  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Artist's brush
  • Microfiber dusting cloth
  • Spot remover, bleach or oxalic acid

About the Author

Heather Robson has more than 10 years of professional writing experience with articles appearing in publications such as "Portland Magazine" and "Treasure Valley Family Magazine." Her education is in physics and English literature, so she's ready to tackle any topic that comes her way.

Photo Credits

  • colorful brush image by drx from Fotolia.com
  • colorful brush image by drx from Fotolia.com