‘I Manage a Vintage Furniture Store, and This Is How I Deal With Dust and Dirt’

Photo: Getty Images/Tony Anderson
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If you're into spring cleaning, there's a good chance you've made some sort of plan for tackling a top-to-bottom tidying of your home to obliterate all the clutter, mess, and, dust. When it comes to the latter, each room may require something different, depending on what kinds of furnishings adorn it—wood, vinyl, glass, metal, leather. One group whose job requires being incredibly adept at dusting all of these materials an more are vintage furniture dealers like Kristen Treado. She's the manager of GoodWood, a vintage shop that's operated in Washington, D.C. since 1994.

GoodWood sells lots of pre-loved items, so Treado and her team are diligent about making sure each one is clean and inviting. As pieces move off the sales floor, the staff at GoodWood make sure they're sprayed, wiped down, and dusted as needed. "Some things barely have a moment here before it's out the door, but some things you really have to come behind and clean," she says. “The vintage, antique, and estate furniture we buy at auction comes in various states of cleanliness."

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Because new items come into the store and pieces are shifted around weekly, Treado says her team typically cleans every item once a week. They're able to do that by using different products and techniques to tackle all the treasures on display in the store, no matter what they're made of. Read on for Treado's best cleaning tricks to employ yourself.

How a vintage store manager tackles dust and dirt

1. Polish and cleaning wood and laminate items with citrus wood oil

Much of the furniture GoodWood sells is midcentury modern, so that means lots of wood and laminate pieces, which both benefit from a wipe with citrus wood oil, according to Treado. “It cleans and beautifies, but it literally nourishes the wood too,” she says. Her preferred choice is Parker & Bailey Lemon Oil Polish ($12), which GoodWood employees use to clean and refresh wood furniture with paper towels. She likes this product so much that she uses it at home with a microfiber cloth, too.

2. Tackle dust with a feather duster

Treado’s favorite product for dusting is an all-natural feather duster. She likes to use these to cut down on paper waste, and because they make it easier to clean hard-to-reach nooks and displays of smaller pieces and hanging items. They're a key part of everyday maintenance and cleaning in the store, she says.

3. Wipe down surfaces with glass cleaner and alcohol-based hand sanitizer

To cut through tough to remove gunk and grime, Treado has a secret weapon: Wiping them with a high-alcohol content hand sanitizer. Her favorite is Jao Hand Refresher ($38), which contains 65-percent ethyl alcohol (aka ethanol). She sprays it on any grease and leftover adhesive that needs to be gone, and she says it's the best weapon for tackling dirt in one particular hidden spot that people may not think to clean: "One of the stickiest things that comes in is a lamp cord, because if a vintage lamp has been in somebody's house a long time nobody ever cleans the cord," she says.

The reflective spaces in the store, like glass-topped tables and mirrors, are liberally sprayed with Windex glass cleaner ($8) to keep them shiny and fingerprint-free. All other surfaces, Treado says, are cleaned with Simple Green's All Purpose Cleaner ($14).

4. Vacuum everything with a shop-vac

GoodWood is located on a busy street in the District, and lots of people pop in to browse. That involves them walking on some of the display rugs. To combat any dirt and dust from gathering on the floor, Treado does a weekly deep vacuum of the store from front to back with her “big, red shop-vac” from Sanitaire ($210).

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