Nothing enhances the appearance of a living room more than well-upholstered furniture, particularly those with expensive materials. Family and friend gatherings usually converge on the sofa, together with the food droppings and drink spills that leave stains and dirty debris on the upholstery. Not to mention the dirty feet, clothing and even pets that add accumulating rubbish on the upholstered surface.
Unless you do something immediately with the upholstery of your valued furniture, the life of this particular investment will not last much. Damage can slowly creep in which can be irreversible if left unattended.
However, cleaning your upholstery or removing spots and stains need not be a cumbersome or painful experience for the owner. Following these basic tips and tricks can help the owner preserve this valuable furniture and bring it back to pristine condition.
One of the most important considerations when performing upholstery work is the type of fabric or material that your furniture or upholstery has. If you are unsure, you can check with the store from where you brought the piece or ask directly from the manufacturers. You can also ask furniture experts or professionals for some advice in this area. Special fabrics can sometimes require a specialized method of cleaning to prevent discoloration or shrinkage. Upholstered furniture that is hand-embroidered requires different methods for cleaning than furniture bought in shops. The key here is to know what method is appropriate for the type of material that your upholstery is based on. Making a big mistake in the method of cleaning can cost you much, maybe even a complete replacement of the upholstery.
Another important consideration in cleaning or removing stains is the cleaning material you will be using. It should match the pH and the sensitivity of the upholstery material. You can do this by applying a few amounts in an inconspicuous location and letting it stay for several minutes. Take note of any discoloration or noticeable shrinkage in the area applied with the cleaning material and proceed according to the results.
Cleaning Methods and Procedures
Standard vacuum cleaners can remove dirt from most upholstered surfaces. Whether the material is leather or fabric, using a vacuum cleaner can get the job done faster. Perform several passes to remove dirt particularly those that are already embedded in the material’s fibers. You can use a soft-bristled brush or even an old toothbrush to whisk dirt away without damaging the fibers. Follow through with another pass of the vacuum cleaner.
Immediately blot out spills from drinks and liquids with a clean absorbent cloth or paper towel. Do no rub against the surface as this can spread the damage and create more stains. Just let the material absorb the liquid. Do not use a colored cloth or paper towels with printed designs. The ink or dye could transfer to the upholstery material while blotting and create more damage.
When using spot cleaners, ensure that the cleaning material you are using are compatible with the material of your upholstery. Ask the hardware or do-it-yourself store where you procured these cleaning materials regarding their properties and compatibility with your upholstery. Perform a physical check by applying in some hidden areas of the upholstery and check for discoloration and other significant changes to the materials. Using a soft brush, apply the spot cleaner to the affected area in soft circular motions. Repeat this until the fibers have completely absorbed the cleaning material. Use a vacuum cleaner to complete the cleaning step after the cleaning material has dried.
After cleaning, ensure that the upholstery and the furniture has completely dried out, particularly the padding and inner layers. Dryness in the outside does not necessarily mean dryness in the inside. Leaving the moisture inside the furniture can result to mold infestations, which are only serious health risks, but can cause irreparable damage to your furniture. Do not place the furniture under the sun to dry as it might cause damage to the materials, particularly for wooden furniture. Cracks and deformation may form and create more damage to the furniture.
The best way to dry out wet furniture is through air blowing. Use blowers to enhance the drying process. You can also isolate the furniture in a room with a dehumidifier to hasten the drying process further.
Do not use excessive amount of detergents when removing larger areas of stain. A small amount of detergent may be enough to do the job. Excessive detergents can leave residues in the upholstered material, which may cause a variety of problems later on. Use pH-balanced detergents for stain removal to avoid damaging the upholstery materials.
Butter stains from popcorn, mixed veggies and other food with butter are common problems in upholstered furniture like the sofa. A dry cleaning solvent may be best to remove these stains Apply it in the affected area by blotting using a white cloth damp with solvent materials. Again, do not rub the surface. Follow through with a pH-balanced detergent and apply using the same blotting method. Rinse properly with warm water then use air blowers to dry out completely. Like butter, cheese can also create ugly looking stains on the upholstery. Use the pH-balanced detergent to clean the cheese away then follow up with an ammonia solution. Apply to the affected are by blotting using a clean white cloth.
Ballpoint pen ink stains are other common causes of upholstery stains. Although difficult to remove, these stains are eliminated by using a few tricks. Using a white towel sprayed with hairspray, dab the upholstered surface where the stains are located. Blot with a clean white towel. Follow this up with another clean cloth, this time damp with rubbing alcohol. After applying these materials, use nail polish remover or turpentine to remove the stains. Work from the outside periphery and towards the center. There are cleaners available though that can remove ink stains.
Remove coffee stains by using a solution made from one teaspoon of mild ph-balanced detergent dissolved in one-cup warm water and add a little vinegar. Apply to the coffee stain using quick dabbing motions, working from the outside moving towards the center.
When grease has stained your furniture, you need to act on this immediately and prevent it from permanently damaging the upholstery. Sprinkle some cornstarch or powder on the area affected. Slowly rub it against the grease for complete absorption. Top it off by using a brush to remove the residue from the powder and grease.
If you have kids in the house, crayon marks are usually the problems on walls, furniture and upholstery. If the upholstery material is water resistant, non-gel toothpaste can be effective in removing crayon stains. Rub it on the surface and remove with a damp cloth. Continue cleaning by applying the suds from a dishwashing liquid in warm water. Clean small sections at a time for a more effective clean.
If the upholstery already has molds, more commonly occurring with leathers, you can use hydrogen peroxide dissolved in warm water with bleach. Lightly rub the stain off using a clean cloth damp with this solution. Rinse the affected surface then air dry.
Caring and Protecting Upholstery
Properly caring for your upholstered furniture can maintain its elegance that can make your living room shine. The key here is to be consistent in cleaning and not just at the start. Most upholstered furniture is applied with a fabric protector as it comes off the shop. However, with use, the fabric protector will degrade and would not be effective in keeping off stains and protecting the upholstery. It would be better to apply fabric protector regularly and on a consistent basis. However, using a fabric protector is not a complete guarantee in keeping the cleanliness of the upholstery. Regular cleaning for dust, dirt and other debris should also be done, as well as immediate action in case of spills.
Rotate loose cushions in certain sofas just as if you rotate the wheels of your car to distribute the wear and tear evenly. Part of this is to turn cushions over to correct the indentations on the surface. Do this when cleaning the cushions using a standard vacuum cleaner.
The sun can cause much damage to the upholstery or the fabric. Colors can fade or become unbalanced, particularly on areas that are always exposed to the sun’s rays. To protect your furniture, particularly for silk materials, keep it away from direct sunlight.
Our skin excretes natural oils that can attract dust and cause discoloration on the fabric material. With this information, homeowners are strongly advised not to sit on furniture with your bare skin. Always wear clothing or a barrier to keep skin from getting into contact with the fabric. The fabric of the upholstery should be treated with an upholstery sealant to make it liquid repellant and prevent liquids and spills from soaking into the material and cause further damage.
Taking care of your upholstered furniture by cleaning and removing stains can bring back the elegance and restore its place as the centerpiece of your living room.