How to Clean and Care for Upholstered Furniture

Perhaps you bought some new furnishings for your home, or maybe you had some older pieces for the patio repaired. Either way, you need to make sure that the upholstery on these items will last for years to come. Doing so will ensure a nice return on your initial investment.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to maintaining furniture fabrics here are some tips to point you in the right direction.

• Know the type of fabric
Before anything else, you need to determine what material you’re dealing with. You should be able to find a tag on your sofa containing cleaning instructions. For handmade bespoke furniture, just give the manufacturer a call if they haven’t provided you with a note detailing the proper way to care for their products.

• Vacuum on a weekly basis
Your vacuum cleaner isn’t only useful for your flooring. Its attachments are also helpful in prolonging the life of your furnishings. You can use the angle-tipped crevice tool, for instance, for getting into those narrow areas where dirt and debris could gather. Meanwhile, a soft-bristled brush attachment is the recommended weapon of choice against surface soil.

• Rotate any loose cushions
By turning the base cushions and throw pillows every so often, you will allow an even distribution of wear and tear and delay the development of indentations, not to mention preventing dust from settling into the fibres. Beat the cushions by hand once a month and fluff them up to help retain their shape.

• Apply fabric protector
If possible, have your chairs and sofa upholstery treated to protect them from any spills. Do this early and adhere to an upkeep routine to ensure that the material will hold up to general wear and tear. Most products on the market are simple to apply and easy on the pocket. They’re not fool-proof though, so you should be mindful of the following tip.

• Address accidents immediately
Accidents will happen so it’s wise to keep some clean absorbent towels handy. For spills, choose to blot gently rather than rub vigorously, especially for any coloured liquids like juice or wine. If this isn’t enough to remove the stain completely, apply spot treatment, but remember to avoid multi-surface cleaners as some may be too harsh for your specific fabric.

• Keep odours at bay
It’s hard to eliminate the smell of smoke or pets once it’s been ingrained into the material. Hence, it’s important to air your furniture regularly. You can also sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on the surface and allow it to sit overnight. Vacuum it off completely the next day and use a steam cleaner, if you have one, to finish the job.

• Avoid direct sunlight
Too much sun can damage the fabric, causing colours to fade and the surface to fray. Place your furnishings in areas where they won’t be exposed to sunlight for extended periods. This is especially true for leather and other delicate materials. If you can, position any outdoor furniture under an awning or in the shade.

• Condition leather biannually
Want to keep your leather clean, supple, and smooth as well as helping to prevent any UV damage? All you need to do is simple maintenance. Just wipe down the surface with a soft, dry cloth routinely to get rid of any dust and crumbs. Then, make use of special leather conditioners every 6 to 12 months while avoiding regular soaps and solvents.

• Schedule deep cleaning
For cushion covers that are both removable and machine washable, turn them inside out and launder in cold water once a year. Steer clear of fabric softeners though and opt for unscented detergents instead. Do not place them in your dryer either and choose to air dry them. Also, always check manufacturers guidelines in case the covers are dry clean only.

• Keep away from pollutants
Airborne pollutants such as cooking fumes can damage any upholstered furniture that you keep in or near your kitchen. Fortunately, proper ventilation can help address this issue. As for oil splatters, these can be difficult to remove so it’s best to just keep any upholstery away from your cooking area and somewhere safer like your living room.

• Remove the pilling
Pills occur when the fibres in the upholstery rub together, break off and gather in small piles. These make the surface look shabby and have to be removed. A lint shaver can come in handy for this situation though you can also buy a specially made de-pilling comb from kitchen and home supply stores.

• Arrange for professional cleaning
Depending on the condition of your furnishings, book an appointment with a professional cleaning service at least once a year. Don’t wait until the surface looks visibly dirty before you arrange the appointment. Why? Because the deeper the dirt has burrowed into the fibres, the harder it will be to remove it and restore the material to its former glory.

When you’re facing an issue that cannot be resolved with cleaning or maintenance, it may be time for you to think about repairs or similar services.

We at South West Upholstery have been in the business of furniture re-upholstery and repairs since 1999. As we continue to expand our range of services to clients across the country, we stay true to our promise of providing top quality and service. You can learn more about what we offer on our services page or you can email us at [email protected].