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How to Make Black-Lacquered Furniture Shine Again

Karren Doll Tolliver

Some furniture, especially Oriental-style furniture and many pianos, have a black-lacquer coating. This type of finish can be extremely delicate and should not be cleaned with regular furniture cleaners and polishes. Cleaning with chemicals can leave streaks and swirl marks in the shiny finish. Instead, manufacturers recommend only frequent dusting to keep the furniture shiny. However, fingerprints and smudges can occur, and water or a tea solution can help remove them.

Black-lacquer finishes on furniture can be delicate and must be cleaned with care.
  1. Dust the black-lacquered furniture item lightly with a feather duster. Since dust can be abrasive, this will help remove any particles that may damage the surface.

  2. Dampen a soft, natural-fiber cloth, such as a new cloth diaper, in water. Wring out the water and let the cloth dry for a few minutes until it is barely damp.

  3. Wipe the black-lacquered furniture gently with the damp cloth in the direction of the grain of the wood. The damp cloth should be so dry that it leaves no visible moisture on the furniture's surface. Follow this immediately with a gentle wiping using a soft, clean, dry cloth.

  4. Assess if the preceding steps cleaned the furniture's surface adequately. If so, you can stop here. If not, proceed to the following steps.

  5. Add six or eight used tea bags to 2 cups of boiling water. Allow the tea bags to steep until the water is cool. Dampen a soft, natural-fiber cloth with the tea and wring until almost dry. Then let the cloth dry a few minutes more.

  6. Wipe the black-lacquered furniture gently with the tea-dampened cloth in the direction of the grain of the wood, followed by the soft, clean, dry cloth. This should remove fingerprints and smudges that were not removed by plain water.