Ammonia for Wood Cleaning

Chris Anzalone

Clear ammonia is a powerful chemical cleaning agent, but unlike some other chemical-based cleaners, ammonia is natural and does not irritate skin or discolor household surfaces. As long as you can handle the pungent aroma, you can use ammonia for a variety of household applications.

For example, ammonia makes an effective wood cleaner.

Benefits of Ammonia

Ammonia is easily acquired and inexpensive. Supermarkets carry it in large plastic containers, and it does not have the environmental impact of some other cleaning agents, such as bleach. Ammonia can remove difficult stains and also functions as a household disinfectant. It can even kill mold and mildew on contact. So long after you finish cleaning your wood surfaces, you can use the ammonia for cleaning difficult ovens, polishing silver and even whitening shoes.

Diluting Ammonia

Ammonia is natural but also powerful. The Utah State University Extension recommends mixing 1 part clear ammonia with 4 parts water for wood cleaning. Do not use cloudy ammonia as it contains added soaps. Wood surfaces can become subject to water spots and streaks when cleaned with hard water, so use distilled water for best results. Since distilled water has few minerals, it can provide a spot-free clean.

Spot Testing

Ammonia in general is safe for wood, but certain wood finishes may become damaged or discolored when treated with ammonia. Before cleaning the entire wood surface, apply a bit of ammonia solution to a soft cloth and scrub gently over an inconspicuous part of the wood. Check for any changes in the color or consistency of the finish. If any changes occur, clean the surface only with a wood cleaner approved for wood finishes.

Applying the Solution

When applying any cleaning solution to a wood surface, use minimal moisture. Wood is porous and can trap excess moisture, which presents a mold risk, and wood also has a tendency to warp and expand. Apply ammonia solution to a cloth and wring it out thoroughly. The cloth should not drip when you begin wiping down wood surfaces. Rinse the ammonia by wiping it away with a second damp cloth.