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How To Clean Oak Doors. The Treatment and Finishing – DIY

How to clean oak doors The treatment and finishing

Oak doors are top choices for home and business spaces since they add a unique sense of elegance besides being durable. Still, many people find it challenging to maintain them in terms of how to clean oak doors and their treatment. Some fear doing it wrongly, while others feel they may alter the door’s grain and finish. 

But to clean oak doors is not really a tricky task if you want to maintain pristine-looking doors and overall space elegance. I will give you a DIY guide on how to clean oak doors to help you get there if you are not ready to pay for a professional service. 

Note that the methods below work well for internal oak doors, but you can also use them for external oak doors. External oak doors generally have more exposure to dirt than internal oak doors, so they may need more attention and frequent cleaning. But at the same time, internal doors also have regular use due to constant opening and closing for privacy. 

How to Clean Oak Doors

You will need to assemble a few items to clean oak doors. Depending on the number of oak doors to clean, you will also need to set aside considerable time to complete your task. 

You will need the following items;

  • Soft and dry cleaning cloths
  • A wash-up sponge
  • Rubber or latex gloves 
  • Clean paintbrush, which you will use on the door edges and grooves
  • Clean, warm water 
  • Detergent or washing up liquid 
  • Olive oil

Instructions to Follow When Cleaning Oak Doors

Before we can get into the details, it is essential to note that the following steps work well for finished and unfinished oak doors. To clean oak doors, you must also ensure that you follow the direction of the wood’s grain to avoid tearing out. 

To clean oak doors to remove stains;

  • First, wipe down the door using a clean, dry cloth. Like any other doors, oak doors are susceptible to dust, water stains, and oil marks. However, wiping your door down ensures that you don’t leave these or any other particles clinging to the wooden grains of your door.
  • With your gloves on, dip the cloth in the water and wring it to remove any excess water. I recommend using warm water because it dissolves any oils on the door. Here, follow the same motion you used earlier on to buff away the stains. You should also gently wipe your oak door carefully around the handle and the bottom. Most dirt accumulates in these areas so they will need more attention.
  • Your oak door may have stubborn stains, which may not come out after the first clean. For such a case, you will need the washing liquid- add a drop or two to the warm water to clean. Don’t add too much of the washing liquid, as it can alter the appearance of your door or damage it. 

You can also add a small splash of white vinegar or olive oil and mix them into your water to eliminate more stubborn stains. This is, however, up to you. 

Simply dip your wash-up sponge into the mixture, wring it, and wipe any more stains. The idea here is to have a moist sponge but not one that is dripping wet. 

  • Get another clean and dry cloth and wipe away any remaining moisture on the door. Leaving too much moisture on wood is not something you want to do. Even though oak is solid wood, you do not want to have too much moisture sit on it for too long. It may suscept your door to warping. 
  • Use your paintbrush to clean the handle, trim, and gaps on the door, then use a dry cloth to wipe these areas and remove any newly accumulated dust or fingerprints. Pay more attention to the handles.

How Often Should you Clean Oak Doors?

The frequency to clean oak doors matters since you don’t want them to accumulate too much dirt over time.

Depending on how busy the door location is or the frequency of use, you can opt to do it once every week or once or twice every month. Overcleaning can, however, remove the original finish of oak doors. But it is for this reason that oak door treatment becomes necessary. How do you do that?

Oak Door Treatment

When it comes to oak door treatment, you may need regular TLC to make them more presentable and serve their purpose for a long time. 

Cleaning is usually an excellent way to maintain the doors’ look, but treatment has an added benefit. Besides getting rid of accumulated dirt, oils or waxes are used to give the doors a rich color and lustrous shine. Here is how to go about oak door treatment. 

You will need the following items to clean oak doors; 

  • Dust sheets or newspapers 
  • A microfiber cloth
  • Soft cloths
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint tray 
  • Masking tape 
  • Low grit finishing pad 
  • Your preferred door treatment oil

How to Treat an Oak Door

how to treat oak doors
how to treat oak doors

If your door has previously been oiled, it is vital to do a patch test on a small area of your door to see whether the oil you are using collaborates with the one on the door. I usually do this to ensure I get a final finish similar to the one on the door. 

Before going to clean oak doors;

You will need to wear protective clothing like an apron, overall, or something you don’t mind smearing dirt on. Again, you should also lay down the newspapers or dust sheet(s) primarily to protect the flooring around the door if necessary, and don’t forget to keep the area well-ventilated. If your door has other materials like glass, cover them adequately. 

Let’s start treating your Oak Door

  • Use a clean and soft dry cloth to clean the door. 
  • Proceed to stir your chosen door oil using the paintbrush and portion a small amount on the paint tray.
  • Load your paintbrush with the dispensed oil and apply it to the door’s surface using long strokes. Make sure these strikes are even, and like with cleaning, treat the door along its grain.
  • Using the microfiber cloth, gently wipe the door’s entire surface to remove excess oil. 
  • Wait for your door to dry, depending on the oil packaging instructions. This will usually be a wait of about 3-4 hours.
  • Once dry, remove imperfections in the oil finish using the finishing pad. Remember not to apply too much pressure to get a smooth surface. One fresh coat should be enough for your door, especially if you will need touch-ups in the future. But you can add a second one if you need a deeper finish. 
  • Repeat the treatment process on the other side of the door. 

How Often Should you Clean Oak Doors?

I recommend treating your door once every three years or once it starts appearing worn out or tired. Treating oak doors prolongs their service, negating the need for constant repair or replacement.


Oak doors are well known for their authentic and luxurious appearance. However, dirt and an unappealing finish may demean their appearance and make an entryway seem neglected. 

Good news, though. You can keep your internal oak doors or external oak doors looking spick and span. All you need to do is follow this guide on how to clean oak doors and DIY recommendations regarding cleaning and treatment to have them in tune with your aesthetics.

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