Whether you’ve spent thousands of dollars on your home’s furnishings or have inherited them from family, the fact remains your upholstery matters. Couches, chairs, cushions: these are the places you rest your body, and ease your mind. Because they get so much love, they’re also the sites of many spills and stains.
This means cleaning your upholstery is a non-negotiable part of maintaining a clean, healthy home. Regularly giving your upholstery a once-over will not only help it look better and last longer, but it will also remove allergens and irritants that compromise your home’s air quality.
How Often to Clean Upholstery
Most people spot clean their upholstery as needed, and while this is definitely a good practice, it is not enough. Even if you can take covers off cushions to wash them separately, all upholstery should be cleaned thoroughly – and dousing it in scented sprays doesn’t count. Depending on how often you use your upholstered furniture, it should be cleaned anywhere from once a year (e.g. formal living rooms that are seldom used) to two or three or even four times a year (e.g. family rooms or office spaces that see a lot of action).
Cleaning Your Upholstery: What You Need to Know
1. Know Your Codes
You aren’t going to take the same tact for every spill and stain. What you use to address the problem will depend on the upholstery fabric. There should be a tag on your upholstery that will tell you what you’re working with. These tags are usually located under seat cushions or on the bottom side of a piece of furniture.
Here’s a rundown of the codes and what they mean:
W: Use a water-based solution to clean the fabric.
S: Use a dry cleaning solvent to clean. No water.
WS: Use dry or water-based cleaners.
X: Get professional assistance to clean. You can brush it or vacuum the upholstery, but should not use any upholstery cleaner on it yourself.
Removed the upholstery tags?
While you now know not to remove upholstery tags in the future, that doesn’t help you much now. As it stands, there are two courses of action to take:
1) Test. Use a cautious cleaning method, like shaving cream. Test it out in an inconspicuous part of your upholstery to ensure it doesn’t damage or discolour the fabric. If it doesn’t, then try it out on the stain. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, test a more aggressive cleaning option in that hidden spot. Keep testing and trying until something works.
2) Go Pro. Spare yourself the guess work and enlist the assistance of a professional right away. Not only will you avoid any botch ups, but you get a fast, effective solution.
2. Act Fast!
If you’re lucky and quick, you’ll be able to clean a spill before it becomes a stain. This is when you stand your best chance of getting it out. The first thing you want to do is to dab (not rub!) the spill with a damp cloth. This will draw the moisture of the spill to the cloth, helping remove it from your upholstery. For more worrisome spills, like those caused by red wine, pasta sauce or dark fruit juices, apply club soda to the affected area and then gently blot.
3. Vacuum First
In the event you’re going to be tackling a dry stain, as opposed to a fresh spill, be sure to vacuum the upholstery prior to cleaning. This will remove any loose dirt and dust, which could further discolour your upholstery if it becomes damp or wet.
4. Know Your Stain
Mystery stains happen, especially if you have pets or kids. But if and when you can identify the stain, it makes it easier to remove it. Here are the most common stains and how to remove them:
Food/Beverage Stains: Shaving cream works wonders to remove tough stains caused by edibles. If you don’t have any of this handy, mix two cups of cold water and a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent.
An exception to this rule would be fruit stains, including wine stains. In this case, mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol.
Grease/oil stains. Absorbing is the first order of the day, so sprinkle baking soda on the stained area and allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes. After this time, vacuum the baking soda. You’re not quite done yet. Next, you need to employ the power of a dry cleaning solution. Follow the instructions on this solvent, and the stain should be history – ‘should’ being the operative word. Stains are tricky, and removing them isn’t always an exact science when you’re using DIY methods. While you will be able to do most of your upholstery cleaning by yourself, there are some instances that call for professional help. These include:
1) When you have tried to DIY to no avail.
2) When you aren’t sure what fabric you are dealing with and want to play it safe.
3) When you have stains on antique upholstery that needs to be dealt with delicately.
4) When you want a sure solution, the first time.
Our professionals have seen just about every kind of stain imaginable, and we’ve used our tools and techniques to deal with them. If you have a stain you don’t know how to deal with – or don’t want to deal with – call us. We’ll help.