(spring!) cleaning tips for every type of upholstery
the key to maintaining quality pieces of furniture is caring for its upholstery.
Published Apr 25, 2016 5:00 AM
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by Rosie Hatch
Whether you just bought a new sofa or you’re looking to show some love to your old one, the key to maintaining quality pieces of furniture is caring for its upholstery. From wine spills on white linen to dried-out and crackling leather, we show you how to keep your furniture in tip-top shape so you can enjoy your investment for years to come. Spoiler! Some products you may already have at home.
Polyester is making a huge comeback partly due to its versatility and durability. Polyester and polyester-blends are man-made fabrics designed to give your furniture various textures and softness levels. These include tweed, satin, canvas, and microfiber. For some polyester sofas (indicated on the label), you can clean them with a mixture of one quart water and one teaspoon household white vinegar. Simply blot the areas that need cleaning and allow it to dry. For Polyester sofas that are not water-safe, you can find water-free solvents in most home improvement stores. Even the most durable polyester fabrics, like microfiber, should still be deep cleaned occasionally to remove oils and debris over time
Genuine leather furniture, although pricey, is extremely durable and a great choice for those looking for a kid and pet-friendly fabric. Since this material is essentially made from an animal, it’s imperative to care for it with the right products. Harsh chemicals can dry leather out and cause the natural color to fade quickly. Instead, moisturize it using a soft cloth and leather conditioner. This allows the leather to absorb the moisture and prolong its appearance. You can find leather conditioner at most furniture stores, hardware stores or even auto part shops. With the right care, leather can last a lifetime and age beautifully.
Like leather, wool is a long-lasting, handsome fabric choice. To maintain wool or wool blended fabrics it’s important to vacuum them regularly. By removing dust before it accumulates, it doesn’t allow the debris get deep into the fibers to create a dull appearance. To spot clean, the key is to get to it fast. Most stains won’t be able to dry in the fibers if you absorb it quickly. If your wool furniture has a label, it may indicate a “W”, meaning it is to only be cleaned with water. If it indicates an “S”, then it can be cleaned with a solvent. “SW” means it is both water-safe and solvent-safe and the “X” means professional cleaning recommended.
Now here’s a fabric that is low maintenance. Vinyl is a man-made fabric made from plastic and can mimic the appearance of real leather. It is also one of the easiest fabrics to clean, because spills don’t get absorbed, making it convenient to just wipe away. You should, however, still use a vinyl-specific cleaning solution as it can deteriorate if not cared for properly. Vinyl cleaning solutions can be purchased at most home improvement stores.
Velvet, although a glamourous fabric, can be a tad difficult to clean because of all those tiny fibers that make it so fluffy and soft. The best tool to use is the hand held vacuum attachment made specifically for furniture. This will clean your velvet gently, without damaging the fibers. For stains, you can create your own solvent using warm water and a little bit of dish soap. Create a sudsy solution and gently pat onto the surface using a clean cloth and allow the fabric to dry completely. With the right care and attention, your velvet sofa will be continue to be stunner for many more years!
Because linen is a natural woven fiber made from flax, it is very absorbent and unfortunately, stains easily. Soak up any spills immediately using a white, dry cloth and always blot instead of rub, as rubbing can spread the stain and cause wrinkling in the fabric. When choosing a cleaning solution, always test it on the back or side of your furniture piece as even water can cause staining on some linen materials. If you are unsure on the exact type of linen, always consult a professional who will know exactly how to care for your sofa and give you tips to prolong its life and your investment.
Cotton, similar to linen, is a natural fiber which comes from the cotton plant. It’s soft against the skin, making it an excellent fabric choice. Unfortunately, the more natural the fabric (100% cotton), the more difficult it is to clean. A quick way to remove dust and debris from cotton or cotton-blend pieces is to take your couch cushions outside and give them a nice pat down. You’ll be amazed at how much cleaner and brighter the fabric becomes with just that simple task. For spot cleaning, use a little simple dish soap and water to create a soapy solvent and lightly dab the area that needs cleaning until it fades away. Of course, always adhere to manufacture cleaning directions as some cotton-blends may require more specific cleaning instructions. Here’s another quick tip: sprinkle baking soda on your cotton sofa, and the next morning vacuum it up. You will find that your sofa will smell fresh and look brand new again.
If you have sofas or chairs draped in sheepskin rugs (and why wouldn’t you? They’re fabulous!), you should still know how to care for it–after all authentic sheepskin isn’t cheap. Because sheepskin contains long soft hairs, debris and dust is easily trapped inside. Thankfully you can easily machine or hand wash your sheepskin rugs with cold water and mild detergent. Always air dry as high heat can damage the skin. Using a wire dog brush, carefully brush the hairs to create a soft, fluffy look.
Chenille upholstery is made from yarn pile, giving it that soft feeling similar to velvet. To care for chenille, you can easily take soft, clean brush you have at home and use it to brush in the direction of the fibers to rid it of dust and dirt. Most chenille upholsteries have a stain resistant barrier, but if yours does not, it might be wise to micro-seal your sofa to protect it from any major spills. Search for companies in your area that can offer non-toxic sealing options.