How To Clean Wood Banister

How to Clean Wood Banisters

Wooden staircase railings or banisters often get dirty quickly. Homeowners sometimes tend to overlook them when cleaning their homes. Dirty wood banisters can easily attract germs and can feel quite sticky to touch. That’s why thorough cleaning is a must. For many, the dilemma is how wooden banister can be cleaned without damaging the entire railing itself. Read on and find out how.

Why Do Wood Banisters Need Special Cleaning?

Some people ask why they can’t clean their banisters the way they scrub their floors or stair steps. Or why can’t they use strong cleansing agents to remove the grime pronto. The answer is simple: a wooden banister is too delicate.

Wood banisters cannot stand harsh cleaning chemicals and rough cleaning materials. They are also prone to potential damages like scratches, deformities, and polish chipping. Hence, wood railings need gentle but effective cleansers and special handling to effectively remove rubbish and restore its cleanliness, luster, and beauty.

Isn’t Dusting Enough?

Many people dust their banisters religiously several times a week. They probably think that this will render the staircase railings clean and dust-free. They get surprised whenever they touch their banisters after dusting and still find it a little sticky.

Dusting helps remove surface dust that has accumulated on the railings. But, the truth is that dusting can never effectively remove all the dirt and grime on it. Cleaning it thoroughly using mild cleaning agents does the trick. Dusting is really never enough.

When to Deep-Clean the Wood Banister?

Clean Wood Banister


How often the banister is cleaned largely depends on how often the staircase is used. Don’t clean the wood banister too often, as this may cause the wood to soften, weaken, and get damaged when exposed to water and liquids. Clean the wood banister at least once a month or when grime noticeably piles up. Do regular dustings to keep the surface dirt away and prevent its accumulation.

What to Prepare?

Gather these basic supplies before starting to clean the wooden banister:

  • A clean feather duster - disposable or reusable will do
  • Pieces of soft cleaning rags or cloths
  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • A spray bottle
  • Warm water placed on a separate spray bottle for rinsing
  • An old toothbrush and/or cotton buds - for banisters with curved designs and hard-to-reach corners
  • Cleansing agent of choice – could be homemade or store-bought

The Cleansing Concoctions

Homeowners may choose from a variety of cleansing agents to use for their wood banisters. They may opt to go for fast chemical cleansers, or they may choose to go natural. Here’s how to prepare these cleansing mixtures:

For a mild chemical cleanser, take a few drops of the dishwashing detergent or soap and mix it with some warm water on a spray bottle. Ensure that the detergent used is a mild one.

For a homemade cleanser, try the following:

  • Turpentine + Boiled Linseed Oil
    Take a gallon of hot water and add two tablespoons of turpentine and four tablespoons of boiled linseed oil. The mixture must be sufficiently hot to clean effectively. Use this cleanser carefully as it can strip off paint from a colored, polished banister. Only use this on unpainted wood banisters.
  • Vinegar + Vegetable Oil
    Mix two teaspoons of white vinegar with a cup of vegetable oil. Vinegar has antibacterial and disinfectant properties while vegetable oil moisturizes the wood surface. This concoction is a good cleanser-polisher combo.
  • Olive Oil + Lemon Juice
    A cup of olive oil mixed with half a cup of lemon juice does wonders in all-purpose cleaning. Lemon juice is a good disinfectant and deodorizer, while olive oil leaves wood with a glossy shine
  • Vinegar + Warm Water
    Harness the well-known disinfectant properties of vinegar by mixing one cup of it with two cups of warm. Distilled white vinegar is most preferred. This mixture’s mild and is great for both polished and unpolished wood banisters.

Clean Away!

How to clean wood banister


Follow these steps to thoroughly clean the wooden banister:

  1. Give the entire wood banister a nice dusting. Use the feather duster, disposable duster, or a clean piece of cloth. Do this step to remove surface dirt before you proceed with deep-cleaning the banister. If the banister is especially dirty, bits and pieces of dust and debris will abundantly show up in the duster or cloth.
  2. Select a cleansing agent that’s appropriate for the railings. Prepare it and pour into a spray bottle. Test the solution by wiping it on a very small surface to see if it’s a fit for the wood banister to be cleaned.
  3. Put on rubber gloves. Then, moisten the cloth with the chosen cleansing mixture. Wring out excess liquid from the cloth and then start wiping the wood banister to remove deep-seated grime and dirt. Use quick rubbing motions and be careful not to soak the wood with too much water.
  4. Soak the cotton buds or old toothbrush into the cleansing solution and use it to clean hard-to-reach corners, grooves, and designs. Follow-up with warm water for a quick rinse.
  5. Once done cleaning a small part, quickly spray some warm water on it and wipe off with another clean cloth. Alternatively, dampen another cloth with warm water and use it to wipe-rinse areas that have already been cleaned.
  6. Be mindful of the dirt showing up on the cleansing cloth being used. When no more dirt sticks to it, wipe the wood with the warm water cloth to quickly rinse off the cleaning solution.
  7. Once the banister is completely cleansed, allow it to air-dry.
  8. After drying, take a piece of clean cloth and buff the wood. Use quick circular motions to restore the banister’s shine.
  9. Unpainted wood banisters can now be optionally painted and polished after it has been dried completely.
  10. Discard the remaining cleaning solutions and other used supplies appropriately.

That’s it! The once grime-filled wood banister is now sparkly clean! The staircase will certainly look and feel better now that the grime and dirt on its railings are gone. Take these steps to heart for a clean, neat, and germ-free banister.

While it is true that wood can be stained or painted, taking proper care of your banisters will ensure they stay in great condition for years to come! Luckily, there are many ways to clean wooden banisters easily with everything in your home.

We will go over some easy steps to take care of your wood banisters. We will also talk about how to choose the best cleaning products for your banisters. If you’re looking to refresh your own banister, Following are some methods to deep clean that might be used it to clean and remove the grime, dust or dirt and germs from your banisters.

Sprout Cleanser

There are many types of wood polish products, but my favorite is sprout cleanser. Productive Systems International (PSI) makes a very popular line of sprout cleansers that work effectively to restore the luster and make your banisters and wooden doors cleaned.

Their product line includes both liquid and gel versions. The liquid version works best if you need to do a larger area, while the gel is better for close up cleaning. I have both and they’re in use all the time!

The trick with these products is to apply just enough so that you can spread it across the surface you want to clean away, and then scrape off any excess. It will soak into the wood and begin to break down the layer of natural oils that get dried out over time.

These oils help protect the timber from additional damage or water absorption which could cause rot or dryness. When applying sprouts onto a new piece of furniture be sure not to go too heavy handed as this may cause paint to peel off or even scratch the wood.

Glass Cleaner

A glass cleaning solution that many people use is rubbing alcohol. Many mix one part liquid dish soap with 2 parts rubbing alcohol and then spread this mixture and then wipe down your wood banisters with a cotton cloth or paper towel.

This works well for removing dried on grime and dirt, but it cannot be used to clean almost washed off greasy soils as it will burn up in the process. If you find that your wood has gone slightly darker from the alcohol, just wash it under warm water and it should come back to its original color.

Also make sure to never soak your wooden furniture in any type of solvent, even if it seems like it would work! Overly wet surfaces can cause rot or mold to set in.

Urine Neutralizer

When cleaning your wood surfaces, you will want to make sure that you are using products that are not containing chemicals such as ammonia or lye. These can damage the surface of your furniture!

There are some great urine neutralizers on the market today. Some are clear liquids while others gel-like substances. They all work in the same way by taking out of the wood component of the chemical structure, thus restoring it.

These special additives are quite cost effective too which is an additional benefit! We recommend trying one of these products before investing more money if you are ever faced with a grossed out house guest.

General tips for keeping your home clean: If you notice there being lots of liquid coming from under the bathroom door, roll up a piece of paper and place it underneath the door. This will help contain the spill until you can properly treat and wash the area.

Scrubbing Paste

Another way to clean your wood banisters is using a scrubbing paste. A great tip that we have here at WOW Unlimited is our Premium Polish Paste. This product contains an abrasive element which helps buff away any get dirty area or marks from the polish.

The powder can be mixed into some water and applied directly onto the surface of the wooden piece. It does not need to be spread out with a brush, it can easily be rubbed in with your hands!

After applying even pressure, work your hand back and forth for several minutes until you see the paint starting to come off. Then, rinse thoroughly under running water and let dry naturally.

Wood Polish

A easy way to keep your wood banisters in good condition is by using a product called wood polish. There are many brands that offer different levels of polish for wooden surfaces.

Mostly, they contain alcohol or ether as a solvent along with other additives to give it more depth and make it last longer. The ones that say “polish” do not actually perform this function. They are just referred to as that because people originally used them to buff out excess dust and oil.

Now those products are much better than the original version! These modified versions contain chemicals to lock in the natural oils of the wood so it does not have to be rubbed off like before.

There are two types of polishes that work well for keeping wood clean: gel and liquid-based. Both can be applied either directly onto the surface or using a brush.

You will need to test one out to see which one works best for you.

Cleaning Wipes

The best way to clean your wood banisters is using a good quality cleaning wipe. These are usually packaged in either individual plastic sleeves or rolls that you can pull out as needed.

There are several types of wood cleaning wipes available and most contain chemicals that are safe for use around children and even some adults if used correctly.

Some examples of common ingredients include alcohol, acetone, olive oil, and ether. All of these are very effective at removing built up grime and oils from your wooden surfaces.

However, make sure you do not overuse the product as this could cause your surface to become more porous. You want to be careful not to soak too much of the material as it may bleed onto clothing or house decorations.

Neutral Soap

One of our favorite ways to clean your wood banisters is using a non-drying neutral soap. There are many brands that contain this ingredient, but all work well. Simply pour some onto a soft cloth or paper towel and wipe down each side of your banister.

Be sure to wash your panes of glass after cleaning the wooden pieces as they may pick up residue from the other element. This will prevent streaks and fogging!

This article was written by Christine, Senior Writer at The Finest Homes Magazine. She enjoys writing about home improvement projects and how to do them. You can find her busy taking care of her family while also working on their homes.

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Don’t be shy, get out there and create yours! And if you’re already in the process of developing your own style, then keep experimenting with colors and textures. It’ll come together eventually.

Boiling Water

When cleaning your wooden banisters, no matter what type of material they are made off, boiling some water is usually the best way to go!

This is because when water touches wood, it can sometimes slightly oxidize the surface of the wood, making it seem darker and richer in color. If you want to take it one step further, that oxidation also helps give furniture its beautiful durability layer that keeps it from looking too shiny or lightened up.

By using hot water, the process goes both ways: You will get rid of any built-up grime as well as possible surface treatments such as oils or natural sealants that were used for manufacturing.

There are several methods to use boiling water, so whatever method you choose makes sense depending on how much cleanliness you need to have. A very important thing to note is that never pour boiling water onto untreated wood, only apply heat directly to treated wood.

Boiled water is your safest bet at this stage.

What is The Best Way to Clean Wood Railings?

To clean wood railings, first use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the railings with a mixture of warm water and use Murphy Oil Soap or Orange Glo. This will help to remove grease and dirt and grime from the wood. For extra cleaning power, use a solution of water and spray with white vinegar in a spray bottle to remove sticky or greasy residue. Be sure to dilute the vinegar with water, using about 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of water. If there is discoloration or wear on the railings, you can use a mixture of vegetable oil and lemon juice to clean and restore the wood grain. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the mixture and wipe away any excess. To disinfect the railings, use a solution of water and bleach or pine-sol in a spray bottle. Be sure to use a dry cloth to wipe away any dirt or debris before applying the disinfectant. Avoid using hard chemicals or fumes, as these can wear down the wood and discolor it over time. To maintain the shine and luster of the railings, use a vegetable oil moisturizer to keep the wood hydrated and protected. Repeat these cleaning methods regularly to keep the railings clean and shiny.

How to Care for Your Wood Railing

To care for your wood railing, it is important to regularly keep them clean and maintain the wood to prevent discoloration and damage. Here are some tips to help keep your wooden banisters, railings, and staircase looking great:

  1. Clean the wood with a microfiber cloth or a clean cloth to remove dust and dirt.
  2. To remove grease and grime, use a mixture of water and vinegar in a spray bottle, shake and spray onto the wood and wipe with a clean cloth.
  3. To disinfect and add a pleasant scent, you can use a mixture of water and pine-sol or a mixture of water and sweet orange essential oil in a spray bottle.
  4. To moisturize the wood and restore its luster, use a small amount of vegetable oil on a clean cloth and wipe the wood.
  5. To deep clean and remove discoloration, use a mixture of warm water and lemon juice. Avoid using lemon juice on light-colored woods.
  6. Avoid using harsh chemicals and fumes to clean your wooden railings and banisters. Instead, use natural cleaning methods like water and vinegar, or vegetable oil.
  7. Keep your wooden cabinets, banisters, and railings clean by regularly dusting and wiping them down with a clean cloth.
  8. To clean sticky wooden banisters, use a water and vinegar mixture and wipe with a clean cloth.
  9. To remove grime and dirt , use a mixture of warm water and a cup of pine-sol in a spray bottle, shake and spray onto the wood.
  10. Remember to clean your staircase railing often, especially if you have a high traffic area.

In short, to care for your wood railing, regularly clean them with natural cleaning methods like water, vinegar, and vegetable oil. Keep them disinfected, moisturize them and avoid using harsh chemicals. Use the right cleaning method for the specific dirt or grime, and always use a clean cloth to wipe the wood.


In conclusion, cleaning a wood banister can be a simple and straightforward process as long as you use the right tools and techniques. Filling a bucket with water and adding a few drops of sweet orange scent can create a pleasant cleaning solution that effectively removes dirt and grime. Remember to work in sections and use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any stubborn stains. With regular cleaning and maintenance, your wood banister will continue to look beautiful for years to come.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

If you’ve still got questions about How to clean wood banister, then these may help:

What Causes Wooden Banisters to Get Sticky?

One cause of sticky wooden banisters is the build-up of dirt and debris. Over time, dust and dirt can accumulate on the wooden surface, making it sticky to the touch. Another cause could be the use of harsh cleaning chemicals that can leave a residue on the wood. To clean a wooden banister, a simple method is to use a mixture of warm water and a cup of vegetable oil. The oil will moisturize the wood and help to remove any dirt and grime.

How Do You Clean a Dirty Stair Railing?

To clean a dirty stair railing, you can use a combination of a vinegar and water mixture, a microfiber cloth, and a spray bottle. First, mix equal parts water and vinegar in the spray bottle and shake well. Then, spray the mixture onto the dirty and sticky handrail and use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe away the grime and discoloration of the wood. To add a touch of moisture to the wood, you can also add a small amount of vegetable oil to the water mixture. Repeat this process as necessary until the wooden staircase is clean. Avoid using hard chemicals and fumes, as they can be harmful to both you and the wood.

How Do You Get Rid of Sticky on Banister?

To remove sticky residue on a wood banister, you can use a combination of warm water, a microfiber cloth, and a mild cleaning solution. Mix a small amount of mild dish soap or all-purpose cleaner with warm water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the sticky areas of the banister and use a microfiber cloth to gently scrub away the residue. If the sticky residue is particularly stubborn, you can also use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water as a cleaning solution. Spray the mixture on the sticky areas, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub with a microfiber cloth. Once you’ve removed the sticky residue, wipe the banister down with a clean microfiber cloth dampened with water to remove any remaining cleaning solution. Make sure to keep your banister clean on regular basis by dusting and wiping it to avoid sticky residue build up.

How Do You Refinish a Banister Without Sanding?

Refinishing a banister without sanding is possible by using a product called a liquid sander deglosser. This product is designed to remove the glossy finish on wood surfaces without the need for sanding. To refinish a banister without sanding, follow these steps:

  1. Start by clean wood banister with a mild cleaning solution to remove any dust, dirt, or grime.
  2. Next, apply the liquid sander deglosser to the banister according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow it to sit for the recommended amount of time before wiping it away with a clean cloth.
  3. Once the deglosser has been applied and removed, you can apply a new coat of varnish or a wood finish of your choice. Make sure to choose a product that is safe for indoor use and that is recommended for use on wood surfaces.
  4. Apply the varnish or finish in thin, even coats, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow each coat to dry fully before applying the next.
  5. Once the final coat is dry, you can use a clean microfiber cloth to buff the banister to a shine and make it look like new again.
  6. To keep your banister clean and in good condition, wipe it down regularly with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris, and apply a small amount of vegetable oil to moisturize the wood.

Note: Keep in mind that this method will only work if the banister is in good condition, if it has deep scratches, dents or rough surface it is better to use sanding method.

Should I Paint or Stain My Banister?

Whether to paint or stain your banister depends on the look you are trying to achieve, as well as the condition of the wood and the level of maintenance you are willing to undertake.

Staining a banister can enhance the natural grain and beauty of the wood, while painting can give it a more solid, uniform look. Staining can also help to protect the wood from moisture and wear, and can be a good option for banisters that are in good condition.

Painting a banister can be a good option if the wood is in poor condition, as it can conceal imperfections and give the banister a new lease on life. Painting can also be a good option if you want to change the color of the banister to match a new color scheme in your home.

When deciding whether to paint or stain your banister, it’s also important to consider the level of maintenance you are willing to undertake. Stained wood requires regular reapplication of the stain to keep it looking good, while painted wood only needs to be repainted when the paint begins to chip or fade.

To keep your clean staircase railing and in good condition, wipe it down regularly with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris, and apply a small amount of oil, vegetable oil moisturize the wood. It’s also a good idea to use a cleaning solution that is safe for the finish you choose.

Krystal Morrison

I create this blog to share my daily tips about home improvement, children, pets, food, health, and ways to be frugal while maintaining a natural lifestyle. Interested to be a Guest Blogger on my website? Please email me at: [email protected]

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