The Best Furniture Polish of 2022

Find out what makes a quality polish and which products will best brighten and beautify your furniture.

By Manasa Reddigari and Debbie Wolfe | Updated Dec 16, 2021 11:53 AM

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The Best Furniture Polish Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

Furniture polishes are substances you apply to wooden home accents and accessories ranging from chairs to dressers to lend them luster. While these products emerged circa 1929, their use remains misunderstood because, most importantly, furniture polishes shouldn’t be mistaken for wood finishes. The majority of these products don’t seal the wood in the way that polyurethane and other finishes do—but they do clean and shine it to renew its appearance. In these respects, they perform handily, provided you buy the best furniture polish for the job, and then first test it on an inconspicuous spot on the furniture to ensure it doesn’t do more harm than good.

We tested the top furniture polishes on the market to help you pick the right polish for your furniture. Read on for considerations to make when buying the best furniture polish for wooden furnishings throughout the home, and learn why we find the following products best in class.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Pledge Multi-Surface Furniture Polish Spray
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pine-Sol Furniture, Polish 4in1 Cleaning
  3. BEST FOR BIG AREAS: Guardsman 461500 Clean & Polish For Wood Furniture
  4. BEST FOR SMALL AREAS: Old English Lemon Oil Furniture Polish
  5. BEST PROTECTIVE POLISH: Howard Products Wood Polish & Conditioner
  6. BEST FOR ANTIQUE FURNITURE: Parker & Bailey Furniture Cream 16oz
  7. BEST FOR CABINETS: Weiman Wood Cleaner and Furniture Polish Spray
  8. BEST MULTISURFACE: CARGEN 3 PCS Wood Seasoning Beewax
  9. BEST NATURAL: The Original Bee’s Wax Old World Formula Polish
  10. BEST SCENT: Orange Glo Wood Furniture 2-in-1 Clean and Polish
The Best Furniture Polish Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Furniture Polish

For results that are as spotless as they are shining, factor in the following properties when selecting the best furniture polish for the job.

Wood Finish

Above all, the existing finish on your wood will dictate the best furniture polish for the project. Do this test on an inconspicuous part of the furniture to identify the finish. Rub a few drops of boiled linseed oil onto the wood and observe:

  • If the wood absorbs the oil, it has an oil finish.
  • If, however, the oil beads up on the surface, the furniture piece has a hard finish. To further identify that hard finish, rub a cotton swab saturated in acetone into the surface.
    • If the acetone dissolves within 30 seconds, it has a lacquer finish.
    • If it turns into a gel-like substance within a minute or two, it’s a varnish or shellac finish (shellac will dissolve quickly when you dab a cotton swab with denatured alcohol on it, while varnish will dissolve more slowly).
    • If the acetone beads up on the surface, you have a polyurethane/polyester finish.
  • If you have unfinished wood furniture (which will absorb a drop of water applied to the surface), you should first finish it (with one of the finishes listed in this section) and then apply furniture polish to preserve that finish. Except for paste wax (more on that below), most furniture polishes aren’t intended for use on unfinished wood.

Formulas

Furniture polishes come in four major formulas—your choice should be based on the current finish on the wood and the desired sheen for the furniture:

  • Silicone polishes contain silicone, wax, and other cleaning agents. As they polish, they remove water-soluble dirt from the wood surface and produce a hard, slick film, making them compatible with furniture with varnish, shellac, and polyurethane finishes to which you want to lend a high-gloss sheen. Their slickness makes them dust repellent and easy to wipe clean of dirt.
  • Emulsion polishes, sometimes labeled as cream polishes, consist of water, oil, and cleaning agents, which allow them to lift water-soluble and oil-based buildup from the wood surface as they polish it. They’re suitable for use on wood with varnish, shellac, and polyurethane finishes, but the matte (low-gloss) or satin (medium-gloss) sheen they produce is more dust-prone and less easily to wipe on than silicone polishes and less abrasion resistant than waxes.
  • Oil-based polishes usually contain a mineral oil base and may also include solvents like petroleum distillate. They’re best suited for wood with an oil finish; the thin film of oil they leave behind on furniture achieves a rich, high-gloss result that accentuates the wood grain but can easily attract dust. That being said, they remove oil-based buildup as they polish, and water-soluble dirt can be wiped clean with a cloth.
  • Waxes made of carnauba or beeswax are another type of furniture polish. These products range in consistency from creamy wax that produces a more dust-prone matte or satin sheen to paste wax that achieves a dust-repellent high-gloss sheen. The thin, hard layer they achieve fends off stains and abrasions and pairs well with furniture that has a lacquered finish. Since paste wax acts as a sealant itself, it’s also suitable for use on unfinished wood.

Application method

The above formulas come in different forms that must be applied to the furniture in different ways:

  • Aerosol polishes, including silicone, emulsion, and oil-based options, are available in a can and make up the bulk of furniture polishes on the market today, for good reason. They require the least amount of work to apply; just press a button on the can to spray the pressurized product directly to the furniture to polish it.
  • Liquid polishes include emulsion and oil-based products; they come in bottles that let the user pour or squirt the polish onto a damp cloth and then wipe it over the furniture. Minimal buffing is required—although more is required for oil-based than emulsion polishes. Spray bottles allow the product to be applied to a surface and then wiped, and disposable wipes are pre-saturated with liquid polish; all that’s necessary to do is grab a wipe and glide it over the furniture.
  • Semi-solid polishes are wax-based products usually sold in a small tub. They require the most work to apply as the user needs to slather the product onto a cloth and then buff it extensively into the wood; creamy waxes require less buffing than paste waxes, however.

Furniture type

The type of furniture you’re polishing can further narrow your product choice:

  • Everyday furniture, from chairs at the dining table to coffee tables, includes primarily utilitarian items that get heavy wear and tear and therefore require more frequent application of furniture polish every month or so to be kept clean and shining. Aim to use aerosol or liquid polishes to lift dirt from and lend a matte to high-gloss sheen to these items with less effort than waxes require.
  • Antique furniture ranging from wingback chairs to bed chests often features ornate details that are best accented by oil-based polishes or wax—ideally the high-gloss sheen produced by paste wax. Since users won’t need to polish these items more than two or three times a year, the higher-effort application of these products will still be manageable. But avoid silicone polishes on these items—they easily show finger smudges.

Our Top Picks

Our selections for the best furniture polish offer the right formulas and application methods for the wooden accents and accessories in your home.

Best Overall

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Pledge Multi-Surface Furniture Polish Spray
Photo: amazon.com

Our pick for the best furniture polish is a six-in-one silicone aerosol product that acts as a wood, granite, leather, quartz, laminate, and steel polisher. Just shake the 9.7-ounce can (one of three included), spray directly onto the furniture surface, and wipe clean with a cloth. The polish works on everyday wood furniture with hard finishes like varnish, shellac, and polyurethane, providing a high-gloss sheen that staves off dust but doesn’t leave behind a waxy buildup. For the allergy-prone, Pledge also traps up to 90 percent of the allergens in dust but leaves behind a mild lemony scent.

The polish is versatile and it doesn’t leave a sticky residue. In our tests, we found that the polish cleaned dust and smudges off of hard surfaces with ease, leaving a refreshing lemon odor that doesn’t overwhelm. We used the Pledge Multi-Surface Furniture Polish Spray to clean a porous wood-stained wood bench. While it cleaned the work bench, it left the surface looking dull. This product is best for nonporous surfaces.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Silicone
  • Application method: Aerosol
  • Scent: Lemon

Pros

  • Can be used on non-wood surfaces
  • Nice scent and not overpowering
  • Doesn’t leave an oily residue

Cons

  • Only good for hard, nonporous surfaces

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Pine-Sol Furniture, Polish 4in1 Cleaning
Photo: amazon.com

Pine-Sol is a well-known floor cleaner. However, the company also produces a comprehensive line of cleaners for many surfaces. Its furniture polish and cleaner is a mineral oil–based polish designed to clean and enhance wood. And, for those who are not a fan of citrus, Pine-Sol’s polish features its signature pine scent.

We found that this polish did a great job polishing wood. It is oilier than Pledge (which is silicone based), so we only recommend it on wood or wood veneers. It leaves an attractive shine on surfaces and requires a little buffing to remove the excess oil. Overall, it’s a good budget pick that will help keep your wood surfaces dust-free and shiny.

Product Specs:

  • Formula: Emulsion
  • Application method: Aerosol
  • Scent: Pine

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Safe to use on multiple hard surfaces
  • Doesn’t leave an oily residue

Cons

  • Pine scent may not be appealing to all
  • Only good for hard, nonporous surfaces

Best for Big Areas

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Guardsman Clean & Polish For Wood Furniture
Photo: amazon.com

Sold in a 16-ounce bottle, this emulsion polish lends a natural, low-luster sheen and a pleasant woodland scent to wood sealed with any type of finish, so there’s no need to stock multiple polishes at home for different furnishings. To apply the liquid product, pour a small amount into a cloth, wipe down the furniture, and buff until dry and glowing. Given that the bottled product pours out a higher volume of polish than would be the case with a spray polish, it’s best used on large everyday furnishings like tables and dressers. As it polishes, the product also conceals scratches on the surface and protects it from stains and UV-related discoloration.

We love the way the Guardsman polish made our wood surfaces look new again. The thick cream polish is easy to spread, and a little goes a long way. We did find that it did indeed conceal fine surface scratches and left the wood looking shiny and clean. However, it’s not a multisurface polish and should only be used on wood surfaces.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Emulsion
  • Application method: Liquid
  • Scent: Woodland

Pros

  • Conceals fine surface scratches
  • A little goes a long way
  • Leaves no residue

Cons

  • Only for wood surfaces

Best for Small Areas

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Old English Lemon Oil Furniture Polish
Photo: amazon.com

Reveal the natural patina of wood furniture throughout the home with this six-pack of liquid furniture polish featuring a mineral oil–based formula that works on furniture with oil finishes. Given the more effort-intensive application of an oil rather than an emulsion polish, it’s the perfect choice for smaller everyday or antique furniture surfaces ranging from chairs to shelves. It goes on with a simple spritz from the 12-ounce spray bottle, and when buffed with a cloth in the direction of the wood grain, leaves behind a high-gloss sheen with an invigorating lemon-and-almond scent. In addition to polishing furniture, it protects it from watermarks, fingerprints, candle wax, and other spills.

Old English Lemon Oil is perfect for adding shine and protection to all wood surfaces. It’s a very oily polish and should only be used in small amounts. This polish enhances the wood grain on raw and lightly stained wood. It is not recommended for use on wood flooring as it may cause the surface to be too slippery. Old English makes it easy to refill its spray bottles with a convenient two-pack of 16-ounce bottles. In hands-on tests, the Old English Wood Polish in the refill bottles is identical to the polish in the spray bottles for around 25 cents less per ounce.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Oil
  • Application method: Liquid
  • Scent: Lemon

Pros

  • Adds a protective finish against stains
  • Enhances wood’s natural beauty
  • Revitalizes and conditions wood

Cons

  • Very oily
  • Only good for wood with an oil finish or raw wood

Best Protective Polish

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Howard Products FW0016 Wood Polish & Conditioner
Photo: amazon.com

Howard Products’ Feed-N-Wax not only polishes but also protects wood furniture with a semi-solid carnauba and beeswax formula with mineral and orange oil. While you can use the creamy wax on unfinished wood, it also helps prevent the cracking, fading, and deterioration of existing finishes of all types. In either case, the polish will lend the wood a satin sheen that accentuates the depth of the grain. Just squirt some product from the 16-ounce bottle onto a cloth, then use a hefty amount of elbow grease to buff it into the furniture. For those who don’t mind the effort, its luxe look is particularly appealing on antique furniture.

This polish enhances the natural beauty of wood. Of all the polishes we tested, this polish immediately made a noticeable difference on the surface. It’s a thick, waxy polish, so only a little bit is needed to get the job done. However, since it’s a semi-solid substance, squeezing the polish out of the bottle can be a bit difficult.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Wax
  • Application method: Semi-solid
  • Scent: Orange

Pros

  • Leaves a soft luster with a protective coating
  • Enhances wood’s natural beauty
  • Pleasant orange scent

Cons

  • Hard to squeeze polish from bottle

Best for Antique Furniture

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Parker & Bailey Furniture Cream 16oz
Photo: amazon.com

Antique furniture needs special TLC to keep it looking its best. Parker & Bailey furniture cream is designed to clean, polish, and condition wood furniture, as well as woodwork, mantels, doors, paneling, pianos, and more. This cream polish is easy to apply and will help bring out the natural beauty of wood furniture.

The polish does as it claims: gently and easily removes dirt, dust, and fingerprints and rejuvenates all wood surfaces. It is easy to apply to nooks and crannies, thanks to its creamy texture. It’s designed for use on furniture and other woodwork, and its delicate formula makes it perfect for antiques. It does have an odd lemon scent that comes across as a tad musty instead of refreshing. However, it’s an excellent polish to have on hand that will help you keep your antique furniture in good condition.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Emulsion
  • Application method: Liquid
  • Scent: Lemon

Pros

  • No oily residue
  • Easy to dispense
  • Easy to spread across surfaces

Cons

  • Lemon scent smells musty instead of bright and fresh

Best for Cabinets

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Weiman Wood Cleaner and Furniture Polish Spray
Photo: amazon.com

Weiman’s Wood Cleaner and Furniture Polish effectively removes dirt, soil, and residue while restoring the wood surface. The emulsion formula leaves a layer that guards against watermarks, dirt, and grime. The polish is safe for all finished wood surfaces, except for floors, which may become slippery.

Weiman’s Wood Cleaner and Furniture Polish features a pleasing almond fragrance that isn’t overpowering for those tired of citrus-scented polishes. As a cabinet cleaner, it isn’t overly oily but semi-viscous enough that it does not slide off of vertical surfaces too quickly after application. This polish comes with a microfiber cloth that helps with dirt removal and polishing without leaving behind lint. However, it is a tad oilier than other emulsion cleaners tested, and surfaces should be buffed to remove excess product.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Emulsion
  • Application method: Liquid in a spray bottle
  • Scent: Almond

Pros

  • Leaves a protective layer to guard against water marks, dirt, and grime
  • Fills in surface scratches
  • Comes with a microfiber cloth

Cons

  • Should not be used on flooring

Best Multisurface

The Best Furniture Polish Option: CARGEN 3 PCS Wood Seasoning Beewax
Photo: amazon.com

Made from 100 percent natural beeswax, the Cargen furniture polish polishes and cleans wood surfaces and leaves a protective finish that repels moisture, stains, and odors. This wax polish is suitable for use on finished and unfinished wood surfaces. It comes with a sponge applicator to help evenly apply the wax to surfaces.

We tested Cargen’s polish on unfinished wood and a painted wood surface. It removed surface dirt well but left behind a significant amount of wax that needed to be buffed. We found applying the polish in thin layers was more effective. Overall, we found that the beeswax conditioned the wood well and left a matte finish.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Wax
  • Application method: Semi-solid
  • Scent: None; natural beeswax

Pros

  • Works on all types of treated wood
  • Easy to use
  • Leaves behind a protective finish
  • All-natural product

Cons

  • Can be messy to apply
  • Needs a lot of buffing to remove excess wax

Best Natural

The Best Furniture Polish Option: The Original Bee's Wax Old World Formula Polish
Photo: amazon.com

The Original Bee’s Wax Old World Formula Furniture Polish is an effective cleaning product that produces a shine on wood and other surfaces, including stainless steel, glass, granite, marble, and even leather. This polish does not leave a waxy buildup and comes in an easy-to-apply spray-can design.

This multisurface polish can be used on various surfaces. The cleaner removes dirt, grime, and fingerprints and leaves an attractive shine on finished wood, leather, stainless steel, and mirrors. However, the polish does not contain conditioning oils or refinishing agents; it’s meant strictly for cleaning and will not condition or restore raw wood surfaces.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Emulsion
  • Application method: Aerosol
  • Scent: Lemon

Pros

  • Can be used on multiple surfaces
  • Doesn’t leave a waxy buildup
  • Easy to apply

Cons

  • Not a restoring or refinishing agent

Best Scent

The Best Furniture Polish Option: Orange Glo Wood Furniture 2-in-1 Clean and Polish
Photo: amazon.com

Orange Glo conditions wood grains while effectively removing dirt and grime without damaging the wood’s natural luster. The orange oil penetrates deep into the wood to help it regain its natural shine. The polish features real Valencia orange oil, providing a powerful yet gentle clean. The orange oil is blended with protective mineral oil and provides the best formulation to give wood its natural luster.

Orange Glo performed similarly to Old English Lemon Oil in hands-on testing. However, Orange Glo offers a refreshing scent that smells like real oranges. Since this is an oil polish, it’s best to use it on raw or oil-finished wood. It is not recommended to use this product on highly finished flooring or furniture because it will cause the surface to be slippery.

Product Specs

  • Formula: Liquid
  • Application method: Spray bottle
  • Scent: Orange

Pros

  • Refreshing orange scent
  • Conditions finished and unfinished wood surfaces
  • Easily removes dirt and dust without drying out or harming wood

Cons

  • Very slippery
  • Only good for wood with an oil finish or raw wood

Our Verdict

Overall, we recommend Pledge Furniture Polish and Guardsman Clean & Polish as our top picks. Pledge is an all-around performer that cleans and polishes various surfaces without leaving behind excessive buildup. Guardsman Clean & Polish is great for any wood surface, and it’s easy to apply. Additionally, it conceals fine surface scratches, and users only need a small amount to polish surfaces. Having both polishes in a cleaning tool kit will ensure that all wood and non-wood surfaces are covered.

How We Tested the Best Furniture Polish

The best wood furniture polish will help keep wooden surfaces in top shape. Wood polish also acts as a sealant for wood furniture to help it last longer. We tested each polish based on the surface type recommended by the manufacturer. We looked at how well it removed dirt, fingerprints, and other debris. We also examined how well it conditioned wood and what type of protection it left behind on the surface.

Additionally, we tested how easy it was to apply the polish and whether the application process was effective. Lastly, we considered whether the polish scent was refreshing. Although scent may be purely a cosmetic attribute, it does help to have a pleasant-smelling cleaner to make the chore more enjoyable.

FAQs

You now know what it takes to choose and properly use the best furniture polish. However, you may still want more information. Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about selecting and applying furniture polish.

Q. What type of polish is best for wood?

The ideal product depends on the type of wood furniture you want to polish. Oils and waxes are best for raw or semi-finished wood. For finished wood furniture, emulsion polishes work best. Always follow the furniture manufacturer’s recommendations for wood polish.

Q. What is the difference between furniture wax and polish?

Wax can be a polish but not all polishes are wax. Wax polishes are sold in a semi-solid state and typically in small quantities. Polishes can be an emulsion or an oil-based formula and are available in aerosol, spray bottles, or squirt bottles.

Q. Does furniture polish contain wax?

Some polishes are wax based. These polishes typically come in a semi-solid state and are rubbed into the surface with a sponge applicator or a cloth.