How to Restore Shine to Dull Wood Finishes

Josh Baum

Even with careful and regular care, stained furniture will lose its shine over time. When the finish on your furniture becomes dull, you may find that commercial furniture polishes can't even restore it to the same level of shine.

Fortunately, there is an easy recipe for a solution that can effectively reinvigorate your finishes. The occasional application of this mixture will keep your best stained pieces looking like new for a lifetime.


This mixture will keep any old wood finish going strong, but a dull finish is also a convenient opportunity to make a change. If you're not crazy about the color, consider taking this time to strip the finish away and apply a new one of a different shade.


The lemon oil will separate from the turpentine and vinegar if left to sit. As you apply the solution, give it a stir every once in a while to keep it well mixed.

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together equal parts turpentine, lemon oil and white vinegar. Turpentine can be found at any hardware store. Lemon oil can be found at hardware stores, furniture stores and many grocery stores. And, white vinegar is widely available at groceries and drug stores. You can determine the total amount you need to mix based on the size of the furniture you wish to treat. Stir the solution well with a spoon once you have combined the ingredients.

  2. Dip a sponge into the solution, squeeze out the excess and apply a coat to a small section of the stained wood. Rub the solution in thoroughly, focusing on a specific area. After about 30 seconds of massaging the solution into the finish, use a soft cloth to wipe and buff the area dry.

  3. Continue cleaning the stained surfaces one small area at a time. Make sure that you alternate between applying the solution and wiping it away; don't allow the solution to puddle and dry, because it will create spots.

  4. When you've treated and dried the entire piece, you may apply a coat of furniture polish if you desire. Just follow the specific directions on the can of polish you're using. The initial treatment will bring almost every piece of stained wood to a brilliant shine, but it will also enable you to get even greater results out of your commercial polishes.