How To Polish Mahogany Furniture

Mahogany wood offers a warm, rich color to furniture, cabinets, and moldings in a house. Mahogany wood begins a pink-brown color, and as the wood dries and ages, the color changes to a deep brown with red tones. Dust, dirt, and oily fingerprints dull the finish and take away from the beauty of the wood. Cleaning and polishing mahogany is a simple way to revive the finish.

Mahogany comes with a variety of finishes ranging from oil finishes to lacquer or varnish. Determining the finish before polishing is important for successful polishing mahogany wood furniture.

Things Needed

  • Microfiber rag
  • Vacuum
  • Upholstery brush vacuum attachment
  • Boiled linseed oil, tung oil, or other wood oil
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Mineral spirits
  • Toothbrush
  • Furniture polish

Step 1

Wipe the cabinets, furniture, or moldings with a microfiber rag or vacuum the surface with an upholstery brush attachment to remove surface dirt and dust. Use a vacuum if the wood surface has carvings or recesses.

Step 2

Apply two to three drops of boiled linseed oil on the mahogany surface. Use your fingertip to rub the oil on the surface to determine if the finish is oil. If the oil soaks into the wood, you have an oil finish. If the oil beads or smears on the surface, you have a varnish or lacquer finish.

Step 3

Dip the corner of a clean cotton rag in tung oil, boiled linseed oil, or oil as recommended by the manufacturer of the furniture, molding, or cabinets if the finish is an oil finish. Rub the oil into the mahogany surface. Continue to rub the oil into the mahogany surface until the wood no longer accepts the oil.

Step 4

Wear rubber gloves and eye protection. If you have a lacquer or varnish finish, saturate a thick, soft rag with mineral spirits. Wipe the rag over the mahogany finish to remove fingerprints and old polish buildup. Turn the rag over frequently as the old polish transfers to the rag. Change rags as necessary and continue wiping until you remove all old polish from the surface. The mahogany will look clean but dull when you strip the old polish. Wipe the surface three to four times with clean, new rags to remove mineral spirits residue. Do not add oil to a lacquer or varnish finish.

Step 5

Apply commercially available furniture polish to a soft rag if you are polishing mahogany with a varnish or lacquer finish. Wipe the polish on the mahogany surface in circular motions and then back and forth along the mahogany grain. Add furniture polish to the rag as necessary to finish polishing the mahogany wood furniture.

Extra Tips

  • Apply oil every 2 to 4 weeks to maintain an oiled mahogany finish.
  • Dust mahogany furniture, cabinets, and woodwork at least once a week to prevent dirt and fingerprint buildups.
  • Do not allow water to sit on a mahogany surface; water stains the mahogany and swells the wood fibers.
  • Use only oil on an oiled mahogany finish; applying polish to an oil finish will make the surface gummy.
Author Aaron Walker

Written by: Aaron Walker

I have extensive construction knowledge and I always stay up to date on current events and new technologies and hope to share my knowledge and expertise here. I am focused on green technologies and home improvements that include green living ideas.