How To Clean Wood Paneling

Wood paneling was one of the most popular materials in homes during the 70s and 80s. So, if you just bought a home with wood paneling, you will need to know how to clean it. Thankfully, a little research makes cleaning paneling easier than you might imagine.

Though wood panels are retro, they are thankfully easy to clean. There are two primary methods to help keep your wood paneling looking sharp:

  1. Dusting
  2. Wiping down paneling with an appropriate wood cleaner

If you want to make a quick improvement to your home's overall cleanliness, caring for your wood paneling is a good way to go about it. This guide will give you the details and discuss how to revive aging wood paneling and deep clean away mold or mildew.

Computer generated image of kitchen and living room with wood paneling, How To Clean Wood Paneling

Cleaning Your Wood Paneling

Modern Living Room with Sofa

Wood paneling is best cleaned through a two-point approach, though you can use each method individually as well. Thankfully, both cleaning methods are as easy as pie. Here's what you need to know about your cleaning routine. 

Dusting Your Wood Panels

The first thing you should do in a thorough cleaning is dust the panels, paying particular attention to the lower portion of the panels. Dust tends to accumulate on wood panels pretty fast, which is why you will need to dust regularly and just before a deeper clean. Virtually any dusting item will work well here, but we strongly suggest getting a feather duster or microfiber duster with a telescopic handle. It makes reaching the ceiling easier.

Click here to get an extending duster kit from Amazon.

Wiping Down Panels With A Cleaner

Cleaning your panels lightly can involve a wide range of different cleaners. Cleaners that are made for wood paneling have oils that help keep panels moist. One of the most popular cleaners for wood paneling is Murphy's Oil Soap, and it's easy enough to use. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the back of the bottle to mix a solution of soapy, warm water. 

Click here to get Murphy Oil Soap from Amazon.

Of course, you can also get a freshly scented, almond oil-based cleaner from Method. This one comes in a spray model, making it ideal for wooden walls. 

Click here to get Method Wood Cleaner from Amazon.

Once you apply wood cleaner on the walls, make sure to wipe down the paneling with a wet rag. This will remove any residue from the soap. 

What Is The Best Cleaner For Wood Paneling?

Truth be told, there's no one best cleaner for wood paneling. It's possible to make a great wood cleaner out of a tablespoon of dish soap and a quart of water. You can also make your wood paneling shine with Method or with Murphy's. With that said, many people claim that Murphy's Oil Soap is the best for antique wood paneling, simply because it's gentle enough to handle old wood but strong enough to remove stains. 

With that said, any wood cleaner is better than no cleaner at all.

How Often Should You Clean Wood Paneling?

Though actually learning how to clean your paneling is important, knowing when to clean it is just as necessary. Believe it or not, wood paneling is more high-maintenance than most other types of walls. (Or at least, this is true when it comes to the typical, required cleaning schedule.)

Most houses with wooden panels will need to have them cleaned every two weeks. If you are a smoker who partakes indoors, you may need to bump it up to once every three days. The same can be said if you have wood paneling in your kitchen and have a tendency to cook greasy meals. 

What Happens If You Don't Clean Wood Paneling?

Wood paneling that isn't regularly cleaned will become a dust magnet, and at times, dust could actually get permanently stuck to your panels. Not cleaning your paneling can also cause staining, discoloration, or drying out. At times, poorly-cleaned wood paneling can also age faster than a well-maintained set of panels. 

All types of wood paneling, regardless of where it's used, will have damage if you don't clean it regularly. Even if you have great wood paneling ideas, you still need to maintain panels to make them look good.  

How Do You Revive Wood Paneling?

Let's say that you've been an absent-minded homeowner and went so far as to neglect your wood paneling cleaning schedule completely. Your wood paneling is looking worse for the wear! Thankfully, there are ways to make your wood paneling look better. Here's how to revive it:

  1. Start your restoration by dusting off your wood paneling. Be thorough since lingering dust could easily impede your ability to make your wood shine later.
  2. Grab the cleaning solution that you regularly use and give your wood paneling a thorough cleaning. To make sure that you get the most out of your cleaning, make sure to wipe with the grain rather than against it.
  3. Rinse by wiping with a damp cloth to remove soap residue. Wait several hours for the wood to completely dry. Double-check by touching the wood paneling with your hand before going to the next step.
  4. Get some wood polish (not cleaner) and apply it to a cloth. 
  5. Apply the polish to small sections of the paneling using the cloth to buff the polish into the wood paneling. When you're buffing it in, use small, stroking motions along the grain of the wood. You should be able to see a nearly-immediate change in the way your wood looks. 
  6. Continue to work the polish into your panels, taking your time to make sure that the entire panel is covered. If you need to reach high up, use a footstool or ladder to climb up closer to the ceiling.
  7. Keep working and buffing the polish into the wood until it no longer feels oily to the touch. When properly polished, you should be able to feel the panels to be smooth rather than oily.
  8. If you want to restore the wood further, add another layer of wood polish to the panels. 

Click here to get wood polish from Amazon.

How To Get Rid Of Mold From Wood Paneling

Wood paneling is one of the more difficult types of wall material when it comes to floods. Removing mold from the paneling is difficult, but not impossible. Here's what you will need to do:

  1. Begin your process by using a brush attachment on your vacuum to pick up loose spores.
  2. Go to the sink, and squirt some dish soap into a gallon jug of water. Mix it, and dip a rag in it. Start cleaning (and scrubbing) the mold off the panels. 
  3. Grab another rag and dip it in water, then use it to rinse off the cleaning solvent.
  4. Once everything has been cleaned up, use a hairdryer or fan to dry the wood paneling. Make sure that the paneling is completely dried. If you notice your paneling getting cloudy, dab the area with mineral spirits. 
  5. Finish everything off by treating the area with a cleaner/polish duo. 

Click here to get a cleaner/polish duo from Amazon.


Wood panels are making a comeback. That's why young homeowners are starting to learn how to clean them. Thankfully, quickly dusting and gently wiping down with an oil-based cleaner are all you need to do to keep your paneling look pristine in most cases.

Of course, you still have to keep up with basic wood cleaning guidelines. What you have to watch for is the frequency that you clean your paneling and the tools you use. Always make sure to clean your panels every two weeks and make a point of choosing a gentle cleaner that can help lock in moisture and protect your wood from the elements.

The payoff for wood panel maintenance is huge. With careful maintenance, you can make those brand new panels last for 50 years or more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *