Upholstery Care

Submitted by: Elizabeth Flores

Upholstered furniture can add warmth and character to a room. It is also an invitation for stains, especially if you have children or pets. Dust, pet dander, mildew and other household grime are the main culprits of dirty upholstery. By treating stains and spills as soon as they happen, you can extend the life of your upholstered furniture. Keep your upholstered furniture looking as good as the day you bought it by setting aside a few minutes each month to give it a good once over cleaning.

Begin your upholstery care routine by vacuuming each piece of furniture once a month, or more if it gets a lot of wear and tear. You know all those tools that came with your vacuum cleaner? The ones you have never used? They are for your upholstered furniture! Using the upholstery attachments, vacuum the cushions, the crevices of the furniture, the back and sides. Vacuuming will help curb dust, pet dander and dirt buildup. Rotate your cushions each month, if possible. If not, then gently fluff them, to help keep their form. Do not put furniture cushions into the washing machine or dryer, as it will ruin their shape. Keeping furniture out of direct sunlight will prevent fabric from fading or becoming discolored.

When a stain inevitably happens to a piece of upholstered furniture, the secret is to attack it right away. Waiting will allow the stain to soak in and harden, making it much more difficult to remove. When cleaning a stain, begin by first removing as much of it as possible. Carefully blot or scrap the stain, being careful not to rub it into the upholstery. Next, test your chosen brand of upholstery cleaner in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won t discolor the fabric.


Working from the outside to the inside, dab the cleaner on the stain. Don t rub it, or you ll just make the stain harder to remove. Use a gentle cloth, like a bath towel or terry cloth to gently blot at the stain. If a stain is particularly stubborn, spray a towel with water and work the towel over the stain in a circular motion for several minutes. Never spray water directly onto any fabric upholstery, as it may cause an ugly water ring.

Different types of upholstery require different kinds of care and cleaning. Fabric furniture, which is the most prone to staining, is easy to clean at home, using either a commercial upholstery cleaning product or a homemade mixture of cup of dishwashing liquid and 1 cup of warm water. When cleaning furniture upholstered in leather, use only a pure soap product, avoiding detergents of any kind. Apply a soapy solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water with soft bristled brush and wipe clean with a damp sponge.

You can prolong the life of your leather furniture by occasionally rubbing the leather with a conditioner, to help it retain a supple feel and sheen. Vinyl, another popular upholstery fabric for furniture, can be cleaned in the same manner as leather. However, never rub any type of oil or conditioner on vinyl, as this will make it harden and crack.

Regular caring for your upholstered furniture will help keep it looking its best. Monthly vacuuming and tackling spills and stains right away are two of the biggest factors in caring for your upholstered furniture. Hiring a professional to clean your upholstered furniture once or twice a year is another way to keep it looking great long after you bring it home from the store.

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