top of page

How are you cleaning your pews?

The answer to this question usually involves some sort of furniture oil, wax cleaners or various polishes. The ever popular "Lemon Oil" is probably the most popular go to product.....but please don't!!

The furniture polish label may say it contains "Lemon Oil" and "Wax" but does it really? Yes, no, maybe so?? Take a minute and look at your label! Not the one on the front of the can, but the ingredient label on the back of the can. You may find out like we did at one of our last jobs that the customer's can label did not match the ingredients!

Take a look at the pictures and see for yourself. The can in the pictures contained emulsified silicone and deionized water and petroleum. This can contained zero "Lemon Oil" and zero "Wax" even though that's what was advertised on the front of the can.

What's wrong with silicone you might ask. Silicone shines nice but is one of the worst chemicals to contaminate the entire church and may cause costly repair and refinishing problems later. We do not ever recommend it. So how do we polish our pews you might be asking. We've answered this and many other questions below!!

My polish that I use on church pews works fine why should I change? If the polish contains wax, silicone or lemon oil throw it out. None of these polish ingredients belong on polyurethane or lacquer finished pews and cause the finish damage in the long run.

What kind of wood polish should I use?

None! The pews do not need to be polished. If they are kept clean the finish should be shiny after a good cleaning. If it looks similar to the picture below.

No amount of polish or cleaner will renew this finish. The finish is worn off of the wood and it needs stripping and refinished.

Should I use Murphy's Oil Soap on my wood pews?

No, we do not recommend wood soap of any kind. Water and vegetable oil soap are not good on "finished" wood pews.

Which wax or oil do our wood pews need?

None! We are often told that the wood needs nourishing or that it is dried out. This is not true for polyurethane or lacquer finished wood pews. The wood surface is actually sealed in by the finish. All the wax or oil does is sit on the surface of the finish to hold on to any dirt or contaminants, in the long run making your pews look dirtier than before and leave you with the arduous task of cleaning off the filthy wax and oil later.

Can I oil or rejuvenate my wood?

No, it is the finish that needs cleaning, not the wood. If the pew is finished, the wood cannot be oiled or rejuvenated because it's behind a protective layer of finish and that is what needs cleaning. Rejuvenation oils refer to open grain woods without a finish.

What am I supposed to be doing with my old polish?

Throw it out!

Why is it important to use a cleaning polish on church pews?

The worst damage done to any finish is from our own sweat and body oils. Residue from hands and sweat on clothing can be quite corrosive. This is often seen in body imprints left in the finish. This damage is very easy to spot once you know what you are looking for. You can see it clearly in the picture below, everywhere the congregation's hands have handled the pews, the finish is faded or even completely worn away!

Hand oils left on the surface will remove even the best of finishes. This is often seen on the top rail, arm or hand rest where the stain and finish is often missing because the body oils deteriorated the finish down to the bare wood.

It is essential to the health of your pews that they be cleaned regularly to remove the body oils and sweat left on the wood from being handled. Polishing or waxing only covers it up, leaving it in place to continue to eat away at your finish under a protective layer of wax.

Is there a Cleaner Polish that will leave the lacquer and polyurethane clean and prevent sweat and oil damage?

Yes, and we have it along with labor saving cleaning towels. Give us a call and we'd be happy to help you get the right product.

We are interested in having our pews refinished!

Give us a call, we are happy to answer ANY questions you might have. We also have a unique offer for churches!! Not sure if Wood Doctors is right for your church? We will refinish one of your pews for free to show you what Wood Doctors can do!!

We cover the entire United States for church and wood pew restoration. If your church needs assistance please call us at 502-599-0020.

Local service areas are Indiana, Kentucky and Southern Ohio. We cover all cities surrounding Louisville KY. and all points between Cincinnati, Ohio, Indianapolis, IN, Evansville, IN, Fort Wayne, IN, Muncie, IN, Bloomington, IN, New Albany, IN, Covington, KY, Bowling Green, KY, Somerset, KY, Campbellsville, KY, Lexington, KY, Berea, KY, and Frankfort, KY.

If your church pew finish has been compromised, give us a call or email us for a free, no obligation inspection and quote.

We can help, contact us at 502-599-0020 or


bottom of page