Five Things to Do When Cleaning Fabric Furniture

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 as soon as they happen, you can extend the life of our 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.

1. Seek Professional Help

5-Things-to-do-When-Cleaning-Fabric-Furniture-1When a spill does happen to your fabric, it’s always best to contact a cleaning professional right away.  These upholstery cleaning companies have the equipment, knowledge and the right cleaning products to clean your upholstery and help remove bacteria under the upholstery. Your hands can’t reach to the depth of your upholstery. 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.  Make sure you are hiring a company that can clean nearly every type of fabric. They should be able to clean delicate fabrics as well as those that are hard to clean and a variety of textiles such as leather and vinyl.  Any company that you hire to clean your upholstery should follow the IICRC, The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, guidelines for cleaning upholstery.  (You can call Queen Anne Upholstery at 206.282.3241 for professional references.)

2. Vacuum Your Fabric Furniture

Before you attempt to clean a sofa remember, upholstery cleaning of any kind is much more effective if the furniture is properly cared for on a daily basis. Vacuuming the furniture on a regular basis is the most important starting point in upholstery cleaning.  Those fancy tools that came with your vacuum cleaner are fantastic for getting into those crevices and are the perfect tools to clean a sofa.  Regular vacuuming will keep the buildup of dirt and dust in your furniture to a minimum.

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.  Keep furniture out of direct sunlight will prevent fabric from fading or becoming discolored.

3. Deal With a Spill Right Away

5-Things-to-do-When-Cleaning-Fabric-Furniture-2The 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 such of it as possible. Carefully blot or scrape the stain, being careful not to rub it into the upholstery.  Next, test your chosen brand of upholster 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 gently 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 or several minutes.  Never spray water directly onto and fabric upholstery, as it may cause an ugly ring.

4. Use the Right Products

BEFORE ANY SORT REMOVAL, TEST A SMALL HIDDEN AREA FIRST!  Many stains can easily be removed if you have the right products on hand.  I would recommend investing in the following products: a sack of clean white towels, a good quality grease-cutting dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl rubbing alcohol or hairspray, and a professional dry-cleaning solvent.

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 ¼ 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 s leather.  However, never rub any type of oil or conditioner on vinyl, as this will make it harden and crack.

The first line of defense in stain removal is to take ¼ cup of dishwashing liquid, mix with a cup of warm water, and whip into foam.  Take a clean white towel; dip into the foam, blot over the stain.  Continue to rotate the towel to avoid re-depositing the grime back onto the upholstery.  Follow up greasy stains with a 1/3 cup of white vinegar to 2/3 cup warm water rinse.  Hydrogen peroxide is great for food-based stains, like wine or grape juice.  Hair spray or alcohol is best for ink stains.  With a little elbow grease, most spots are easily removed.

5. Pay Close Attention to the Cleanability Codes

Many furniture fabrics now carry the furniture industry’s cleanability code adopted in 1969.  It gives the consumer information about the proper furniture cleaning methods for specific fabrics.  There are four letters in the code, immediately followed by furniture cleaning instructions.  The code letters are W, S, W-S, and X.  Permanent furniture cleaning labels will normally be found under the seat cushion.  When sport cleaning on an inconspicuous part of the furniture, it is always a good idea for consumer to first pretest the fabric for discoloration and shrinkage on an inconspicuous part of the furniture.   When overall furniture cleaning is required, professional furniture cleaning will often achieve the most satisfactory results.  Never remove cushion covers or arm caps for separate furniture cleaning.  This may destroy the backing, cause shrinking and create color changes.

Code “W” – To prevent overall soil, frequent vacuuming or light brushing to remove dust and grime is a recommended step in furniture cleaning. Spot clean, using the foam only from a water-based cleaning agent such as a mild detergent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo protest. Apply foam with a soft brush in a circular motion. Vacuum when dry. Pretest a small area before proceeding. Use a professional furniture cleaning service when an overall soiled condition has been reached.

Code “S” –To prevent overall soil, frequent vacuuming or light brushing to remove dust and grime is a recommended step in furniture cleaning. Spot clean, using a mild water-free solvent or dry cleaning product containing carbon tetrachloride which is highly toxic. Pretest a small area before proceeding.  Furniture cleaning by a professional cleaning service only is recommended.

Code “W-S” – To prevent overall soil, frequent vacuuming or light brushing to remove dust and grime is a recommended step in furniture cleaning. Spot clean, with a mild solvent, an upholstery shampoo, or the foam from a mild detergent.  When using a solvent or dry cleaning product, follow instructions carefully and clean only in a well ventilated room.  Avoid any product which contains carbon tetrachloride which is highly toxic.  With either method, pretest a small area before proceeding.  Use a professional furniture cleaning service when an overall soiled condition has been reached.

Code “X” –  Clean this fabric only by vacuuming or light brushing to prevent accumulation of dust or grime.  Water-based foam furniture cleaners or solvent based furniture cleaning agents of any kind may cause excessive shrinking, staining or distortion of the surface pile and, therefore, should not be used.

Regular caring for your upholstered furniture will help keep it looking it’s best.  Monthly vacuuming and tackling spills and stains right away are two of the biggest factors in caring for your upholstered furniture.

Queen Anne Upholstery, named ‘Seattle’s Best’ by Seattle Magazine, is an industry leader in customer service. Established on the top of Queen Anne Hill in 1936, Family owned and operatedQueen Anne Upholstery is committed to the excellence of ‘old world’ craftsmanship.