Upholstery cleaning is an important maintenance activity within the home because not only does it keep upholstered furniture looking nice, but it is also hygienic in that it helps to eliminate dust mites and dirt that can cause or worsen breathing ailments. So not only does regular care of upholstery prevent that relatively new armchair or couch from becoming the featured item of next year’s yard sale, it also keeps all who come in contact with the upholstered furniture free from unnecessary allergens.
However, upholstery cleaning involves more than simply shampooing and consists of more materials than just cloth. Upholstery can also include vinyl and leather, which requires their own unique care methods. It is important to follow the care instructions for each type of upholstery carefully to ensure its longevity and its beauty.
Using detergents on leather can do more harm than good. Using pure soap products to clean leather is ideal in addition to using conditioners to restore moisture and maintain that beautiful shine. Just like with cloth upholstery, leather can also be cleaned with warm water and dishwashing detergent. Apply only the suds and scrub with a brush with soft bristles and wipe clean with a damp sponge to get the job done. Doing this regularly ensures the longevity and the beauty of leather upholstered furniture.
Commercial cleaners designed just for vinyl upholstered furniture is ideal for cleaning vinyl, but it can be cleaned the same way that leather is cleaned. If using warm water and dishwashing detergent to clean vinyl, starting out by using baking soda on a cloth can yield great results. What isn’t a good idea is using oil on vinyl to make it shine. The oil can actually cause the vinyl to harden.
Most cloth upholstery can be shampooed at home except for those fabrics that state “Dry-clean only.” Spot-cleaning with a solvent or 1 cup of warm water mixed well with ¼ cup of dishwashing liquid is a great way to maintain upholstery. Applying the foam only to a small section at a time with a soft-bristled brush (clean, of course) will prevent unnecessary damage. After applying the foam, rinsing can be done by gently rubbing a clean, moist cloth on the upholstery. However, a good rule to keep in mind is to avoid detergents listing bleach as the first or second ingredient listed on the bottle.
If the job is a tough one and the entire piece needs to be cleaned, there are commercial shampoos that are easily obtainable. Warm soapy water may not do the job on a Kool-Aid spill, but it will help until a commercial shampoo is acquired. Wet stains especially can be damaging to upholstered furniture because prolonged wetness can lead to mildew setting in, which is not healthy.
Whether the upholstery is cloth, vinyl or leather, it is important to do such tasks as regularly vacuuming, damp-dusting with a cleaner that is recommended by the manufacturer, and occasionally treating furniture to the cleaning power of a professional. The above steps outlined for each type of upholstery is meant to make upholstered furniture look as good as it did the day it was purchased, keeping it from being a yard sale bargain hunter’s next restoration project. Upholstery cleaning also keeps those with breathing issues breathing easy. That way the furniture is happy and so are the people who have to live with it.
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