Furniture is the focal point of any room. Whether it’s a luxury sectional sofa or an ottoman that pulls the decor of your room together perfectly, you know when you’ve found the perfect piece for your home. While we love to envision the ways we’ll use our furniture, you need to think about cleaning your upholstered furniture from time to time.
You know that a quality piece of upholstered furniture can last you a very long time if you care for it properly. You never put your shoes on it, you trained your cat not to scratch it and you even rotate the cushions occasionally, but when was the last time you deep cleaned your upholstery? After all, even the most perfect piece of furniture will begin to look less than impressive as it accumulates dirt and grime.
Why should you clean your upholstered furniture, how do you clean it safely, and how often should it be done? Read on to find out!
Why Should You Clean Your Furniture?
Your furniture is a source of comfort for your family. You can’t wait to lounge in your favorite recliner at the end of a busy day, your children doze off on the couch in the evenings, and even your dog has his favorite chair. Imagine the dirt, dust, and hair that can accumulate in a week of heavy use, let alone a month or a year.
If you don’t clean your furniture regularly you could encounter the following problems:
- Premature wear and tear on your furniture– Dirt and oils from your body can wear down the fibers of your upholstery leaving it vulnerable to premature wear and tear.
- Poor air quality– Fabrics in your home can trap dust, dander, pollen, and other allergens, expelling them back into the air every time you plop down in your chair. This can aggravate asthma and allergies and affect your air quality.
- Odors– It’s hard to notice bad odors in your home. Once you are around the smell long enough you become “nose blind”. But after your furniture has been exposed to food spills, sweat, pet accidents, cigarette smoke or other life smells, your guests will definitely notice.
- Ugly furniture– No matter how fantastic that chair looked when you first bought it, with regular use over time it will inevitably look dirty, stained, and discolored.
How to Clean Upholstered Furniture
Most people put off cleaning their upholstery because they aren’t sure how to clean it safely. The last thing you want to do is ruin an expensive piece of furniture.
If you’re ready to tackle your filthy couch or armchair, be sure to follow these steps.
1. Crack the Code
Dozens of different kinds of fabrics can be used to cover furniture and each will require a different cleaning method. Locate the care tag before attempting to clean your furniture and look for the letter or letters known as the cleaning code. This code will tell you the safest way to clean the fabric on your furniture.
- W- Use water-based cleaners.
- S- Dry clean only. Do not use water to clean this fabric.
- W/S- Both water-based and dry solvents can be used safely.
- X- Do not attempt to clean this fabric.
For S and X fabrics you should consult a professional upholstery cleaner. Dry-cleaning solvents can be toxic if not used correctly and you don’t want to risk injuring yourself or damaging your furniture.
For W or W/S fabrics, read on and feel free to attempt a DIY cleaning. Although, you should still spot-test your cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area of the fabric to be extra safe.
2. Suck It Up
Before you start sudsing up, it’s important to vacuum your furniture thoroughly. Remove any detachable cushions and use the vacuum hose to go over all surfaces of the furniture. Dig deep for all the crumbs, hair and loose change buried in the recesses. Many vacuums have crevice and upholstery attachments that make this job much easier.
3. Be a Stain Fighter
Look for areas that need a little TLC. Apply an appropriate stain pre-treater to problem areas and make sure that any gunky debris is scraped or brushed off.
4. Clean Non-fabric Surfaces
While you are waiting for your pre-treater to work, go over any wood or metal areas such as legs, handles, or levers with a mild solution of dish soap and water.
5. Clean the Fabric
Now it’s time to get to work. Use a commercial upholstery cleaner or make a homemade solution of ¼ cup of vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of dish soap and ¾ cup of warm water.
Saturate a microfiber cloth in your solution and then wring it out thoroughly. Rub the solution into your fabric, working in small sections. Rub with plain water to rinse away the detergents and blot with a dry cloth.
It’s very important not to over saturate the upholstery. If moisture soaks into the cushion it may be difficult to dry it completely.
6. Dry Everything Well
Allow all of the fabric to dry completely before reassembling cushions and pillows. Aim fans at the fabric to help speed up the drying process, but avoid sitting on your furniture until it has dried completely. Moist fabric can attract dirt and stains.
DIY Cleaning vs The Pros
Although many upholstery fabrics can stand up to water and detergents, DIY furniture cleaning can be risky. Attempting to clean your furniture yourself can result in;
- Mold and mildew– Water and cleaning solution can absorb deep into cushions and cause mold and mildew to grow.
- Stains– If detergents aren’t rinsed well they can cause staining and attract more dirt.
- Damaged upholstery fabric– Using the wrong type of detergent could result in discolored or worn fabric.
- Lackluster results- Handwashing might help remove some surface dirt, but it probably won’t help much against stubborn stains and deep down odors.
The best way to get clean looking, fresh smelling upholstered furniture is to contact a professional cleaning company. They know the safest most effective way to clean any kind of fabric and their specialized tools clean deep down into your cushions to chase out odors and allergens.
How Often Should You Have Your Furniture Cleaned?
How frequently you need to have your furniture cleaned depends on your lifestyle and how often the item is used. The seldom used armchair in your den could probably go a few years in between cleanings, but the beloved couch in your living room should be cleaned much more often.
With average use, upholstered furniture should be cleaned about once a year to keep it in tip top shape. However you may need to clean it more frequently if you smoke or have children or pets.
Preventative Care in Between Cleanings
If you don’t want to have to call the upholstery cleaners several times a year there are some things you can do to care for your furniture and stretch out your time in between cleanings.
Follow these tips to keep your furniture looking it’s best
- Don’t sleep on your furniture– While an occasional afternoon nap on the couch is unlikely to do much harm, frequent overnights can cause your upholstery to get dirty quickly.
- Ban food and drinks– This one might be tough if you like to snack in front of the TV, but eating and drinking on your furniture leads to inevitable spills and crumbs.
- Kick your shoes off– Get in the habit of removing your shoes before curling up in your favorite chair. Shoes bring in dirt, bacteria and other contaminants from outside.
- Limit your pets– If you can’t stand the idea of shooing your furry friends off of their favorite sleeping spots, at least train them to stay on a washable blanket or covering.
- Address stains quickly- If spills occur on your furniture blot them up quickly and apply a stain remover right away.
The more loved your furniture is the faster it will get stained and dirty. DIY cleaning is a great way to address surface stains but if you want to deep clean your upholstered furniture to get rid of dirt, odors, and allergens it’s best to call a professional upholstery cleaning company.
If your furniture if due for a deep cleaning, call the experts at Hydra Clean Northwest. We have years of experience cleaning all kinds of fabrics so we can make your furniture look great.