Cleaning Furniture 101: Maintaining your Furniture's Beauty
Spring is a great time to take a fresh look at what you are doing to keep our home furnishings clean and well maintained. Spring showers bring in more than just flowers – this time of year we see more dust and pollen in the air and muddy feet running around the house. Here are some tips for keeping your furniture in tip-top shape:
Vacuum weekly to remove dust, dirt and crumbs.
When spills happen – always blot spills as soon as you can. Check labels and owner instructions, some upholstery stands up to spot cleaning with water, some will not. Also, be sure to test cleaners in an inconspicuous place to ensure the colorfastness of the fabric and that no staining or discoloration will occur from cleaner or water. Let the spot you tested fully dry to be sure that no discoloration or water staining occurs and look for any puckering resulting from stretching or shrinking.
For dried-on soil, try a soft-bristled brush.
Different types of upholstery have different care instructions. Some fabrics such as microfiber and cotton can be cleaned with water, some are even machine washable (for slip covers). Microfibers also tend to be stain resistant making them a very easy-care option. Other fabrics such as silk or wool need professional care.
“W” on the label indicates it is the most forgiving fabric, it means you can use water to clean your furniture. You can use an upholstery/carpet cleaner to clean stains or spills. You are likely to also be safe utilizing mild soap. For spots, moisten a clean sponge or cloth with soap/water solution and gently blot the spot or stain, and then blot with a dry towel to remove water and soil. For stubborn spots, allow the cleaner to sit on the stain for several minutes.
“S” means that it must be cleaned with solvents (dry clean only) and should not have water applied. Spot clean only with home dry cleaning products (but test in a small inconspicuous place first). Follow the directions of the product you purchase.
“WS” means you can use a combination of dry-cleaning solvents and water. Again, always testing in an inconspicuous place, experts recommend trying solvents first. These fabrics can be challenging and if there is any doubt, leave it to professionals to handle.
“X” is not seen very often anymore. This item is not cleanable and should be vacuumed only.
Vacuum, dust or wipe your leather furnishings regularly to remove dust, dirt and crumbs. Wipe up liquid spills immediately with an absorbent cloth or sponge. Use a 3 in 1 leather conditioner that contains a conditioner, cleaner, and leather protectant a few times a year. Do not apply water to leather. Do not apply oils, abrasive cleaners, ammonia or chemical cleaners. These items will do more harm to the material than good.
Wood and Veneer Finishes
Dust wood furniture frequently with a dry, clean, soft, lint-free cloth, a microfiber cloth is ideal because it holds onto dust. Always wipe in the direction of the grain. Wipe up liquids immediately so that they do not seep in and damage the finish. Clean with furniture polish every 6 months.
Be particularly gentle with veneer finishes as the top layer of wood is very thin. Minimize the use of water, and be thorough in drying all water residual.
Area Rugs – Indoor – Synthetics
For a long life, vacuum area rugs regularly to keep them clean and reduce wear. For many area rugs, the recommendation is to keep the beater bar of the vacuum off, this is especially important with longer pile rugs like shag rugs. Always avoid vacuuming any edging fringe.
Blot up any spills immediately with a clean dry towel. Many stains can be removed by blotting them with a damp warm towel or sponge. Blotting is much gentler on your rug, rather than rubbing or scrubbing. A mild soapy water solution will remove tougher stains. Particularly challenging spots can be removed with carpet cleaning solution or the foam resulting from a mixture of water, white vinegar and mild detergent. All cleaning treatments should be blotted with a damp towel afterward to remove stains and cleaners; followed with blotting with a dry clean towel until as dry as possible.
Area Rugs – Indoor/Outdoor
When used outdoor, this rug will need additional vacuuming since it will be subject to much more dirt, dust and grime than an indoor rug; vacuum with the beater bar off. Blot up spills and stains immediately with a clean dry towel. Blotting is preferred, not rubbing or scrubbing. Use a damp sponge or towel to blot clean any spots or stains, using mild soapy water solution if needed. Blot dry.
Most outdoor rugs are designed to hold up to water. To refresh the appearance of your rug you can occasionally rinse it with your garden hose. First vacuum the rug, then rinse the rug and hang to dry.
Glass top tables, glass inlays, glass-doored cabinets and mirrors can be cleaned with glass cleaners or with a 50/50 vinegar-water solution and a lint-free cloth like microfiber or newspaper (not linty paper towels).
Metal frames of tables, chairs or beds should be dusted regularly to maintain their luster.