Furniture Guides | Bookcases

How to Maintain a Bookshelf with Glass Doors

Maintaining a bookshelf with glass doors takes a little bit of elbow grease but is worth the effort to keep dust off your treasured books and keepsakes. A non-traditional style bookcase with glass doors can also be a statement piece for your living or dining room to display valuables or beloved photographs.

For inspiration on bookshelf styles with elegant glass doors, visit, where you'll find lots of options to fit your home decor and color palette. From traditional to contemporary or rustic, there's a bookshelf style for everyone's home, and the glass doors enhance the look.

They take more effort to maintain, but the benefits of having glass doors on your bookcase outweigh the additional labor.

Glass Cleaning Products

To keep your bookshelf with glass doors sparkling, you'll need to invest in the proper tools for cleaning, including:

  • A static duster
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Glass cleaner
  • A lint-free cloth

Dusting the glass doors and the bookcase's exterior with a static duster or lint-free cloth keeps the unit looking new. Ensure that you dust the corners and small ledges where the glass joins the wooden frame. You should also give the interior a light dust. A static duster takes the effort out of dusting and minimizes the need for a dusting spray, which could damage book pages and fragile items.

Gently clean the glass doors to keep them gleaming in between dustings. You can use a homemade solution of 50% vinegar and 50% water or purchase a commercial glass cleaner. Whichever kind of cleaner you select, use a lint-free cloth to work it in, so you don't leave any unwanted residue or smudges on your bookshelf with a glass door.

Wood Maintenance

Integral to maintaining your glass door bookshelf is taking care of the material it's made from. Laminate, particleboard, or MDF bookcases do not require oiling, and can be cleaned using a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Ensure you don't over saturate the cleaning cloth as some low-quality materials may absorb moisture, warping the frame and panels.

If you have a solid wood bookcase, it may be made from quality hardwood, such as oak, pine, maple, or reclaimed wood, and it should be dusted regularly. After dusting, lightly oil the shelves to prevent the wood from becoming too dry. Oiling only needs to be done a couple of times per year.

Old wooden bookcase with glass
Old wooden bookcase with glass

Note that not all woods respond to the same kinds of cleaners and care. It's critical to follow manufacturer directions on proper maintenance.

A simple way to brighten your wooden bookcase is to boil water and steep two black tea bags in the water, letting it cool. Once it's at a lukewarm temperature, dip a cloth in the water, so it's slightly damp, and use it to wipe down your bookshelf. The tannic acid from the tea helps rejuvenate your bookcase if it's dulled over time.

A paper towel and a small dab of olive oil can be used to moisten your wood and restore its sparkle. However, use olive oil sparingly as it is known to attract dust.

Beeswax is one of the best natural wood furniture polishes available for long-wearing water resistance and a smudge-free finish.

Remove Water Rings and Disguise Scratches

On a finished wood bookshelf, you can get rid of water rings and fingerprints using water and mild soap on a cloth or a gentle detergent and water combination on a finished wood bookshelf. For unfinished wood, create a paste combining one teaspoon of salt and a little bit of water on a damp cloth. Apply only to the marked area and wipe clean.

Water rings and dust on the glass
Water rings and dust on the glass

To treat marks on your bookshelf, you can utilize a Magic Eraser to remove scuffs and scratches or a crayon that is a similar color to the shelving. Use the crayon to fill in scratches that have discolored the wood. For black painted shelves, you can also use a black permanent marker.

Do a Deep Clean

Every six months, it's essential to do more than clean just the bookcase's exterior. Even if your glass doors and wood exterior are gleaming, other problems could be lurking deeper in the shelves. Cobwebs, booklice, and mildew are just a few of the issues you might encounter by neglecting to clean your books and shelving regularly.

When you do a deep clean, empty the shelves and pull the unit off the wall. Wipe it down with a slightly damp cloth to remove cobwebs and dust. When it's empty, check the unit's bottom and back as well for cobwebs or mold and clean it accordingly.

Be sure to clean the baseboards behind the bookcase once you've pulled it off the wall. Dust and grime can accumulate and stick to the paint on the trim.

Sometimes you'll also see mold damage if the bookcase prevents air from circulating correctly to the space behind the shelf. To remove mold staining, create a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and gently spritz it onto the trim. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth and then dry it off. The vinegar should also help prevent future mold growth.

Protective pads on the bottom of a bookcase can collect a lot of grime, hair, and dust, so wipe them off with a dusting cloth. If you've had the bookshelf for several years, it might be time to replace the protective padding to protect your floors better.

Cleaning Your Books

Before you reshelve your books, give them a deep clean. If they're old, rare, or valuable, take them to a professional book restoration service. For a DIY fix at home:

● Remove jackets and gently wipe covers with a very slightly dampened cloth.

● Fan the book's pages out over the top of a sheet or towel to catch anything that falls or crawls out of them.

● Fan the pages again. This time face up so you can see if there's any debris or dirt in between the pages.

● If you spot anything, gently remove it with your cloth.

● Let the covers of the books dry entirely before returning the dust jacket, and placing it back on the shelf.

The Take-home Message

Your bookcase with glass doors can look new for years with proper care, and it only takes a few minutes a month to perform these tasks. Dusting regularly is the biggest job, but every few months, it's worthwhile to take it one step further and do some deep cleaning to protect your bookcase and its contents.

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