How to Clean Old Wooden Church Pews

How to Clean Old Wooden Church Pews

Old wooden church pews are a valuable asset to a church sanctuary and provide effective communal seating for a tight-knit congregation. If you’re responsible for cleaning the wooden church pews, especially during seasons when sickness is prevalent, you may be wondering how to clean wooden church furniture. Use this guide to care for wooden church pews and find answers to the questions you may have.

Jump to Sections:

How Often Should I Clean Wooden Church Pews?

To stay on top of caring for your wood furniture, you should establish a schedule for cleaning church pews. Follow these tips for cleaning your wood pews when completing the church cleaning routine:

  • Once a week, dry dust pews and collect any papers or debris from the church service.
  • Every month, clean the pews with a wrung-out sponge or cloth and water, and vacuum or wipe the hard-to-reach areas under the seats.
  • Once a year, polish pews with Guardsman Furniture polish, following directions as outlined by the manufacturer.

What Is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting Wood Furniture?

When you follow these instructions for cleaning church pews, you should understand the difference between disinfecting and cleaning. When you clean the benches in your church, you remove dirt, impurities and germs from the surface with soap. Disinfecting a wooden surface involves killing bacteria with chemicals. You should always clean dirty surfaces with soap or detergent and water before you sanitize them.

What Products Are Safe to Use to Clean Old Wooden Church Pews?

It’s important to ensure the cleaning products you use on your wooden pews are safe for the material. To test a product before you use it in the sanctuary, follow these tips:

  • If you try out a new product, apply a small amount to an inconspicuous area before using it on the whole surface.
  • Follow the instructions listed on the bottle, including the appropriate dwell time.
  • Wear disposable gloves and mouth protection when sanitizing an infected area.

How Do I Know What Finish I Have on My Wood Pews?

Before you clean the wooden pews in your church, find out what kind of finish the manufacturer used. You can use this simple test to discover whether your pews have a hard or oil finish:

  • Purchase boiled linseed oil from your local hardware store.
  • Rub a few drops of the oil onto an inconspicuous part of the pew.
  • If the oil creates a bead, it means your pews have a hard finish.
  • The pews have an oil finish if the linseed oil absorbs into the wood.

How Do I Kill Germs on Wood Furniture With a Hard Finish?

To disinfect old wooden church pews with a hard finish, use a mild detergent solution to protect the paint or stain of the furniture. Mix a small amount of mild soap with warm water to clean dirt and germs from the wood. Avoid using harsh disinfectants or detergents that could damage the finish on the pews.

Kill Germs on Wood Furniture With an Oil Finish - To sanitize wood surfaces with an oil finish, you'll need three clean cloths, soap and water.

How Do I Kill Germs on Wood Furniture With an Oil Finish?

To sanitize wood surfaces with an oil finish, you’ll need three clean cloths, soap and water. Dip the first cloth in a solution of soap and water, wring it out and wipe it on your furniture. Wet a second cloth in plain water to clean the soap off your furniture. Dry the furniture with a third cloth, and use a furniture cleanser-conditioner to restore its appearance.

How Do I Clean Spills From Old Wooden Church Pews?

Keep in mind that wood is sensitive to moisture damage, so you should be attentive to your wooden surfaces as you deal with liquid stains. Remember these tips for cleaning spills on old wooden church pews:

  • Wipe the spill as soon as possible with a paper towel or cloth to prevent it from setting into the wood.
  • Use a spray made from a diluted, oil-based soap to get the spill cleaned up according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Dry the area entirely before applying high-quality furniture polish.

How Do I Disinfect Wood Furniture?

It’s important to know how to disinfect wood furniture properly to prevent the spread of germs among your congregation. To sanitize wood furniture, you’ll need water, white vinegar, dish soap and two cloths. Follow these steps to disinfect wooden church pews to preserve your wooden furniture while killing germs on the surface:

  • Create a spray solution with 2 cups of water, 1 cup of white vinegar and 5 drops of dish soap.
  • Spray the mixture onto the wooden pews and wipe with a damp rag.
  • Remove any excess moisture with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Change cloths frequently as they become saturated.

How Do You Take Care of Church Seating?

To preserve your old wooden pews for years to come, there are a few safety factors to consider. Follow these wooden church pew maintenance tips to provide comprehensive care for your pews: 

  • Keep wood surfaces away from direct sunlight, using shades or commercial window treatments as needed.
  • Avoid long periods of moisture exposure on the pews, even though the finish is resistant to water and alcohol.
  • Try to maintain a relatively constant temperature in the sanctuary to prevent splits and cracks.
  • Protect your pews from extreme dryness in addition to excessive moisture.

An excellent way to take care of your wooden pews is to have them refinished by a professional. The Keck Group uses four coats of pre-catalyzed lacquer to refinish your pews, which will never require a protective coating of wax under normal circumstances.

Refinish existing church pews to preserve the history of your church

How Do I Bring Wooden Pews Back to Life?

The wooden pews in your church may have been in the building since it was built. While many churches are choosing to switch out these pews with cushioned chairs, you can refinish your existing seating to preserve the history of your church. To revive old wooden benches, follow these tips:

  • Use a filler pencil to remove scratches from the wooden pews.
  • Switch out the upholstery of your pew cushions.
  • Call a professional to refinish your pews.

Contact The Keck Group to Help You Maintain Old Wooden Church Pews

As a sensitive material, wood can suffer from cracks, splits and discoloration when exposed to harsh temperatures and excess moisture. You need the right cleaning methods to keep wooden pews looking clean and new for years to come. If you have any questions or if your pews need repair, reach out to our team. 

At The Keck Group, we specialize in pew refinishing, restoration and repair, giving your pews a fresh look. We will transport your seats to our site and target the areas that need the most care. Contact us online or call 888-253-KECK for more information about our services.

Page updated on October 13, 2021

Newsletter Subscription

Sign up to get the latest content first