Unless you cover your furniture in plastic, your upholstery will pick up dirt and dust just like every other surface of your home. In addition, even if you do not have small children the eventual spill from food or drinks will mar your otherwise perfect upholstery. Tips for cleaning upholstery can get quite complicated; however, I prefer the easy upholstery cleaning tips that I learned from cleaning a daycare when I was in college.
Reading cleaning codes:
The first step in learning how to clean upholstery the easy way is to learn the manufacturer’s cleaning codes. Typically, if the upholstery can be cleaned with water they will display a “W”, cleaning with solvent is “S” (of course “SW” would mean either solvent or water may be used) and “X” indicates that the fabric should either be dry-cleaned or professional cleaned. If you have removed the manufacturer’s tags or they are missing, be sure to do a small test in an inconspicuous place before using any cleaning agents, including water, to prevent damaging your upholstery. Remember that if the upholstery is more than 50% cotton, professional cleaning may be your best alternative if the stain is large or very noticeable.
Tips for cleaning upholstery:
• Remove loose dust, dirt and debris with a vacuum cleaner or duster before cleaning the upholstery.
• Steam cleaning should be used only if nothing else works. Steam cleaning will leave upholstery, and underlying padding, damp, which may cause bad odors or mildew.
• A mild homemade upholstery cleaner can be made by combining ¼ cup mild dishwashing detergent with 3 cups warm water. Gently brush the solution onto the upholstery being careful not to over saturate the fabric. Allow to sit for two to three minutes and wipe with damp sponge to remove suds. TIP: Start with the weakest solution possible and increase the detergent if necessary.
• For stains and spots, a commercial upholstery cleaner may be purchased at home improvements stores. Be sure not to use one that has harsh chemicals or toxins. Search for green, eco-friendly upholstery cleaners that cleanses and deodorizes upholstery.
• Baby wipes are great for cleaning upholstery easily and quickly.
Some of the best tips for cleaning upholstery are those that teach preventative care. It is easier to clean spots on upholstery that is cleaned on a regular basis. Upholstery should be lightly brushed and vacuumed once per week to keep dirt from penetrating the fabric.