Having children or pets, or even entertaining periodically, should not hinder you from having nicely upholstered furniture. It should, however, foreshadow future spills, pet hair, and possible food fights, and therefore encourage you to have a plan of action ahead of time. Once you are prepared for a mess, it won’t be as distressing when the inevitable comes into fruition.
The first thing you need to decide when cleaning your upholstered furniture is whether you will be purchasing an upholstery cleaning product or making your own homemade version. If you choose to purchase, then directions on how to clean are provided on the product, but if you would like to make your own, consider the following:
A common homemade upholstery cleaner is made with a mix of ¼ cup of soap detergent or laundry detergent and 1 cup of water. These ingredients are then blended into thick foam with a hand mixer.
Before using your cleaning foam, it is important that you test it to make sure that your mixture does not ruin the upholstery. Test on a small inconspicuous location using the following washing and rinsing directions, and then wait for the area to dry before proceeding with the actual soiled area. While waiting for the area to dry, prepare the actual soiled area for cleaning.
To prepare the area prior to using your cleaner, you must remove access dirt. You can do this by taking a plastic spatula and gently scraping off any hard pieces. A plastic spatula is soft and has no grooved or corrugated areas that will pull at the fabric.
After loosening the dirt or particles, use the appropriate hand tools on your vacuum cleaner to remove the scraped remnants, along with surrounding dirt or animal hair. If you don’t have hand tools on your vacuum, then use a clean soft brush, or dust the area with a clean white cloth. By dusting the area, you avoid pushing the dirt and particles into the upholstery, thus making a bigger mess or damaging the fabric. Additionally, it makes the job less time consuming and more effective.
Once your test area is dry and unharmed, take a clean white cloth and scoop a small portion of the foam onto the area. When washing the area, don’t rub aggressively. Instead, wipe the area in short, soft, spurts, lifting the cloth off the fabric at the end of each swipe. This movement will avoid pushing dirt further into the material.
After washing the area, wipe off the dirty foam. If necessary, repeat with another portion of clean foam. Once the area is washed, take a wet white cloth and moisten the area gently. This would be considered the rinsing part of the cleaning process and is intended to remove excess foam. You want to remove any soapy residue so the area dries without staining. Avoid creating a huge sopping area.
Finally, take a clean white towel and press into the area to suck up as much moisture as possible. Repeat with dry areas of the towel until you are satisfied. This will avoid watermarking the area. You can leave a dry towel over the area to protect it or place a fan nearby to dry it.
Remember that you can never be too cautious when cleaning an upholstered piece of furniture for the first time. It may take longer than necessary, but it will ensure that you don’t ruin a favored piece of furniture. With upholstered furniture stains that are harder to remove, you may have to hire a professional upholstery cleaning company. Additionally, you can visit Home Furnish for valuable information on the various furniture industry cleaning codes and fabric protection tips.