General Question

chocolatechip's avatar

What is this brown stuff I'm wiping off this old wooden desk?

Asked by chocolatechip (3004points) December 7th, 2010

So I’m getting some brownish residue whenever I rub a tissue or paper towel (or my sleeves) over this very old looking wooden desk. What is this stuff? Brownish residue is rarely good. My guess is that the varnish is coming off.

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6 Answers

Eggie's avatar

Yes it is the varnish coming off of the desk. How old exactly is the desk and are there any kind of spray that is hitting it, like sea-blast or something?

Mikewlf337's avatar

It’s probobly varnish or just years of dirt.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t know how old varnish behaves, but I can’t help wondering if it used to belong to a heavy smoker.

Mikewlf337's avatar

@Jeruba Good point! It could be nicotine. If it is very old more than likely someone smoked around it.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

GA’s here. Do you know if it was recently restored? I know that if the finish was hand rubbed, depending on the type of wood it might appear to “bleed” for a while as well. If it is an older finish, certain cleaners with citrus qualities in them might have weakened the finish as well, another cause of “bleeding”.

MissAusten's avatar

We have a table that has never been in a smoking home, and every time I clean it I get a brownish residue. I’ve always thought it was the finish. We’ve had this table for years, and I made the mistake of cleaning it with regular kitchen cleaner. That, on top of abuse and art projects from kids, has nearly worn away the finish on the top of the table.

You could probably solve the problem by refinishing the desk. If it’s an antique or valuable, you might want to look into the correct way to refinish it without reducing the value.

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