HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY… upholstery?
Eating and watching TV. Is that an average night for you? Your favorite food, your favorite beverage, and your favorite chair! We spend a lot of time sitting down. So how do you take care of the things that take care of you? Let’s talk about keeping your upholstery looking good and lasting a long time. After all, HAVE YOU PRICED UPHOLSTERY? YIKES! It is really expensive to replace; so let’s maintain!
As with carpets, dry soil removal is important. Vacuum your upholstery periodically. This does not have to be nearly as often or as vigorous as your carpeting and rugs. The very nature of upholstery means it soils differently; we are not walking on it (hopefully) and there are many vertical surfaces on upholstery which means less areas for soil to settle. Many times it is simply dust and hair that are being removed, but it is still important. One exception is if you have pets; you may need to vacuum quite frequently to remove their hair or fur.
Most of the wear on upholstery will happen in very specific areas: on the armrests, specifically where are hands are, where we rest our head, and on the footrests. The wear happens here not only be these are used often, but also because we are oily beings. Not quite like Golden Retrievers, but still oily. Whenever you sit and rest on the fabric you are leaving a little of yourself. The natural oils produced on the skin rubs off on the fabric. Add to this sweat and you have a concoction that can weaken fabric. It must be removed to avoid becoming a problem.
Removing it requires a little patience. First, find out it the fabric is colorfast. You can do this by putting the cleaner you are going to use on white towel and rubbing each color on the fabric for about 10 seconds. Do this in an area that will not be seen, just in case there is a problem. For instance, the zipper side of a cushion or the bottom corner of a skirt or even the lower back corner of a chair. Look at the towel and see if any color has transferred to the towel. if it has, STOP! Further work may ruin the entire piece. Time to call a professional. If no color transfers, you can proceed.
In order to clean the fabric do not put any cleaner directly on it. First, most will run off and be wasted, and second, it may overwet the fabric. A better idea is to wet a white cotton towel with the cleaner and then gently blot the affected area. If you are worried about water spotting, take a spray bottle with warm water and lightly mist a larger area first, then do your spotting. After the cleaner is applied you can lightly agitate the area with the towel and you will see the oils and sweat begin to lift off. Do not overwet the fabric.
This works fine, but you still need a professional cleaning on a regular basis. It may be as often as once a year or more if you have pets and children. If it is not used often, it may be as infrequently as every 2-5 years. It should still be cleaned within this time frame even if it does not look soiled. It is still accumulating oils from the air and dust. It will make it last longer and look better.
As a side note, if you are looking to purchase a new piece of upholstery, make sure you consider the “cleanablilty” of the piece, not just the looks. If possible, get a piece of the material to take home and get it wet, clean it. It is bitterly disappointing to find out that a very expensive piece of upholstery will not clean up like you think! Or at all!
Keeping these things in mind will keep your furniture looking good for years to come.