How to Take Care of Your Furniture?
Styczeń 31, 2009
Caring For Upholstered Furniture
– Preventative maintenance is your best bet for keeping upholstery looking new: vacuum
it regularly using a specialized attachment (most vacuum cleaners come with upholstery
attachments). Applying a commercial stain-guard treatment such as Scotchgard can
also help prevent future accidents from becoming permanent stains.
– Sometimes the fabric of your upholstery can snag when you vacuum it. To remedy this
problem, put a piece of nonmetallic window screen between the fabric and the vacuum
– In the event of a spill, blot it with an absorbent towel (cloth or paper) immediately.
Since most upholstery is relatively thick, it takes longer for things to sink in. If you take
care of a spill right away, there’s less chance that it will stain.
– Turn over loose cushions and throw pillows every few weeks to evenly distribute the
wear. To determine what kind of stain removal method is best for your upholstery,
check the furniture tag for one of the following letters:
S – means to use solvent only and spot-clean in a well-ventilated room.
SW – means to use either solvent or water-based cleaner.
X – means vacuum only.
to make the “dressing” process easier during the furniture’s manufacturing.
– If you have slipcovers, they should always be dry-cleaned unless they are specifically marked
“washable.” To clean your upholstery:
– Remove loose cushions and throw pillows, and loosen the dirt with a handheld brush. After
that, vacuum both sides of the cushions and pillows using an upholstery attachment.
– Vacuum all the furniture’s surfaces: the back, sides, arms, skirt, and cushion platform.
Replace the cushions.
– Mix ¼ cup of mild laundry detergent with one cup of water. Using an electric hand mixer, mix the
solution together until it foams up and reaches the consistency of whipped cream. It should form
– Before tackling a large surface area, test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area, such as
the bottom hem of the back. If you note any discoloration, fading, or shrinking, toss out your suds
and have the job done professionally.
– If the spot-test proved to be okay, it’s safe to do the rest of the piece. Dip a clean cloth in the
suds, spread them over a small area, and gently rub them into the fabric. You will see dirt
collecting in the suds as it is drawn out of the depths of the upholstery; use a scraper or spatula to
scrape the dirty suds away.
– Repeat in other areas until you’ve cleaned the entire piece.
– Allow the furniture to dry overnight. If possible, aim an electric fan or two at it and let them speed
the drying process.
– When you are cleaning the fabric, be sure not to rub too vigorously or the fabric could pill.
– If you have a spill that is made of grease or caramelized sugar, use a solution of 50% water and 50%
white vinegar to spot-clean the area.
– Greasy stains may also respond to baking soda; sprinkle it on the stain, leave it overnight, then
vacuum up the next day.
Caring For Leather Furniture
– Give the leather an occasional once-over with a soft cloth lightly dampened with warm water; this will
help take care of the buildup of body oils that can accumulate on leather’s surface.
– Use a clean paintbrush, preferably one with medium to stiff bristles, to lift dust from pleats or tufted
– Keep your leather furniture out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Prolonged exposure to sun will
cause it to fade and crack.
– Leather furniture should also be kept a minimum of two feet away from radiators, vents, and any
other heat sources.
– Use products such as saddle soap sparingly, because they will break down the leather over time,
taking years off of your furniture’s life.
– If your furniture is made of suede, split cowhide or sherling, be sure to treat the whole piece with
water repellant after purchase. These types of leather generally don’t have a protective finish, and
stains can be impossible to remove. A coating of water repellant ensures easier stain removal.
– Before you clean your leather, test out a small, hidden spot to make sure it’s washable. If the leather
doesn’t absorb the water, it’s safe to wash; if it does absorb the leather, then don’t wash it. Just keep
it frequently dusted and wipe it down with a barely-damp cloth from time to time.
– To clean dirty leather, mix mild dish soap with water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution lightly onto
the leather, then buff with a soft cloth. You can also make a solution of mild soap flakes (such as
Ivory Snow) and water; dab only the suds onto the leather, using a damp cloth, and then dry with a
good for the finish. To remove mildew from leather, mix one cup of rubbing alcohol with one cup of
water; dampen a cloth with the mixture, rub the affected area, and leave it to dry.
– To remove ink stains, spray the area with a little bit of hairspray and wipe it immediately with a clean
cloth. Ink stains can be hard to remove, so if you’re wary of this technique, call in a professional.
– To remove grease stains, sprinkle some talcum powder or cornstarch over the stain; let it sit for a few
hours, then dust off the powder.
– To remove gum, freeze it using a plastic bag full of ice cubes; when it has hardened, gently pry it
loose from the surface. For any residual gum, heat the area briefly with a hair dryer, then wipe with a
– To remove salt stains, such as those from sweat, mix a solution of three parts vinegar to one part
water. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe the stain away.
Caring for Wood Furniture
– Protect wood furniture from excessive sunlight; too much can dry and even bleach the wood.
– Keep the furniture in a place that is neither too humid nor too dry. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier, if
necessary, to make a neutral condition. Too-humid environments can cause the wood to warp, while
too-dry environments can dry out the wood.
– Don’t place your wood furniture near air vents.
– If you’re going to put decorative items on top of the wood, cover the bottoms with felt to prevent
– Always use coasters under glasses, and protective plates under your plants.
– Clean up spills immediately, especially if they’re alcoholic or acidic. Wipe them with a clean cloth that’s
either dry or only slightly damp. If you use a dampened cloth, be sure to swipe over the area with a
dry cloth once you’re done cleaning.
– Dust your wood furniture regularly using a soft rag. Cloth diapers – clean ones, of course! – are
actually ideal for this purpose, as are old cloth napkins and terry towels. For an extra shine, forgo the
cotton dusting rags for a commercial polishing cloth. These are soft and have a flannel-like nap.
They’re usually yellow and can be found with the cleaning supplies in most stores.
– When cleaning and polishing, always wipe with the grain of the wood.
– It’s important to know the finish of your wood furniture in order to determine how to clean and care
for it properly; it’s the finish you’re actually cleaning, and not the wood itself. If you aren’t sure what
kind of finish your furniture has, try the following tests on a hidden piece of the wood:
– Rub a few drops of boiled linseed oil (available at hardware stores) into the wood. If it beads up,
the wood has a hard finish, and if it absorbs, the wood has an oil finish.
– If you determine that your wood furniture has a hard finish, identify which hard finish it has by
rubbing acetone on a small area in a circular motion. If it’s lacquered , the lacquer will dissolve
within thirty seconds. If it’s a shellacked or varnished finish, it will turn sticky within a minute or
so. If it’s a polyester or polyurethane finish, it will shed the acetone like water and remain
– When you polish your wood furniture, be sure to select a product that’s appropriate for the finish. It
will tell you on the label. Some polishes are labeled “multi-finish” and can be used on any type of
– Always use the same brand of polish; different brands, when applied over the top of one another, can
cause a dull or cloudy look.
– An oil finish should be protected only with an oil-based polish.
– If layer upon layer of polish has dulled the shine of your wood furniture, the buildup can be removed
by using a commercial wood cleaner (make sure you don’t confuse this with a wood stripper ). Wood
cleaners are simply a mild solvent combined with oil, and will dissolve built-up polish and dirt. You can
make your own by mixing two parts olive or lemon oil with one part vinegar or lemon juice; apply it
with a soft cloth, and then wipe it clean.
– To remove alcohol spots, you can rub the spot with paste wax, silver polish, or boiled linseed oil, and
then re-wax. A dab of household ammonia on the spot will work on some finishes; put a few drops of
the ammonia onto a damp cloth, rub the spot, and then wax immediately afterward.
– To remove minor surface burns, you can use the same treatment described for alcohol stains. You can
also dip a cotton swab into some paint remover and gently rub the affected area to remove any
charring (you may even have to scrape the surface a little bit). Use one or two drops of clear
fingernail polish to fill in the depressed area.
– To remove candle wax or gum, chill and harden the substance by holding an ice cube over it for a few
seconds (make sure that you immediately wipe up the water droplets left behind by the melting ice).
With your fingers, gently remove as much of the gum or wax as you can, and scrape off what’s left
with the dull edge of a butter knife. Saturate a cloth with cream wax, and rub the spot.
– Grease stains can be removed by a couple of different methods. One is to place a blotter over the
spot and press it lightly with a warm iron until the blotter absorbs the grease. Or you can saturate the
spot with mineral spirits, and place talcum powder, sawdust, or a cloth over it to absorb the grease as
it’s drawn out.
– If ink is spilled on unsealed wood furniture, the stain can be impossible to remove. However, if your
furniture is sealed, you can usually get the ink off without it leaving a lasting stain. Use an absorbent
cloth and blot – don’t rub – consistently turning the cloth to a “fresh” spot to prevent smearing. Then,
clean the surface using a damp cloth (don’t forget to dry!) or a cream wax.
– To remove nail polish, soften it by rubbing with a cloth saturated in mineral spirits. If the furniture has
a hard finish, apply paste wax with a piece of very fine steel wool in the direction of the wood grain. If
it’s an oil finish, simply apply a little bit of oil. Do not use nail polish remover – it can quickly damage
– To disguise minor scratches, you may only need a coating of paste wax. If that doesn’t hide the
scratch, try the following:
– Break a nut ( Brazil , butternut or walnut) in half and rub it into the scratch.
– Use a brown crayon or shoe dye to color the scratch (yes, really!).
– To remove white water rings, use one of these methods:
– Rub with paste wax and very fine steel wool.
– Rub the spot with a lint-free cloth moistened with camphorated oil, and wipe it immediately
afterward with a clean cloth.
– Mix two or three drops of ammonia with some hot water. Dip in a small piece of cheesecloth,
wring it out well, and rub the spot.
– Place a clean blotter over the spot and press gently with a warm iron.
– A note for those who have pianos: the ivory keys will yellow with age. Slow the process by exposing
the ivory to light – leave the piano keyboard open as much as possible. Clean the piano keys by
simply dusting them. If more extensive cleaning is needed, you can wipe them down with a cloth
dampened in mild soapy water, then with a cloth dampened with water alone, and dry them
antique wood furniture, but leave anything else to a professional.
– When dusting antiques, use a flannel rag; it will collect the dust without needing chemical cleaning
– Treat a “sticky” drawer slide by adding some soap or beeswax to help it glide more easily.
– Use a soft paintbrush to dust gilded areas or carved wood details.
– For antiques with a hard finish, use paste wax, either beeswax or carnauba wax. Beeswax is softer
and more nourishing, while carnauba is a tougher and more durable wax. You can find either type in
hardware stores, and they come in varying shades to blend in with the tone of the wood (you can also
purchase clear wax for painted surfaces). Apply the wax with a flannel cloth.
Caring for Outdoor Furniture
– To keep plastic lawn chairs opening and closing with ease, fill an eyedropper with vegetable oil and
squirt it into all the joints.
– If the aluminum on your lawn chairs has corroded, polish it lightly with fine steel wool.
– Left untreated, teak furniture will turn gray. Sand water spots with a light sandpaper, and rub with
baby oil once annually to maintain the teak’s color.
– Outdoor fabrics such as hammocks and cloth chairs are generally machine-washable, if you use the
gentle cycle and a mild detergent. If the items are white, it’s okay to add bleach. Hang the items
outside to dry, but to avoid shrinkage, you should replace the fabric onto its frame before it’s
– Patio umbrellas can be cleaned with a soft-bristled brush and a solution of mild soap and cold water. If
the frame is made of wire, use a spray lubricant to keep the joints working. If the frame is wooden,
restore the shine with paste wax.
– Spot-clean acrylic cushions with a sponge dipped in mild soap and water; rinse with plain water
afterward (remove the cushion from its frame before cleaning).
– If you have a problem with mildew in your acrylic cushions, mix one cup of bleach, two cups of
detergent, and one gallon of water. Spray the entire cushion, saturating well, and let it sit for thirty
minutes. Scrub it with a sponge, rinse it with clean water, and allow it to dry. To prevent future cases
of mildew, avoid storing your cushions in plastic bags or wrappings; plastic doesn’t let the cushion
“breathe” and if there’s the tiniest bit of moisture present, mildew will form.
– Resin furniture can be cleaned simply by spraying it with a garden hose and letting it dry. Scuff marks
can be removed with a gentle abrasive, and mildew can be removed using the same
bleach/detergent/water solution as used for the acrylic cushions.
– Wrought iron, steel, and aluminum frames can be washed with a mixture of mild soap and water. Most
metal frames these days are rust-resistant, but if yours isn’t, you can protect it by using paste