Your furniture get a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis, and dirt and stains are inevitable. Spills happen in the blink of an eye and once the spaghetti sauce hits the cushion, the clock starts. The first thing you should know when that happens is to blot the stain, do not scrub or rub or the stain will worsen. In the interest of making those furniture investments look well-cared for and last as long as possible, you have to keep up with them with regular maintenance. Arm yourself with knowledge about your particular furniture materials and always have the appropriate cleaning products stocked in the house. There should be a tag attached to a cushion that tells you what materials you are working with and some basic cleaning instructions. Some common codes on the tags are:
W- for water, which means you can use a water-based cleaning product
S- means the piece should be cleaned with a ‘solvent’ or water-free product, like a dry-cleaning solvent. Water could leave rings or altar the dyes in the fabric. Be sure to read the label on the product you choose.
WS – it is safe for both water-based and solvent solutions. This is something to look for when purchasing furniture, especially if you have children or pets and anticipate a fair amount of usage because it opens up your options for cleaning methods.
X- This means you have a difficult piece. Both water and solvents are questionable and you should definitely call in a professional.
If there is no tag, and with all DIY upholstery cleaning in general, you assume the risk that your products may have a negative affect no your furniture. I recommend calling a professional for advice and definitely testing the selected product on an out-of-site area to see how the material responds.
Before cleaning your upholstery, go over it with a vacuum. It is important to get all the loose dirt, dust and hair up before applying any sort of cleaner because those particles, when wet, can turn into stains. This will also help you see the existing stains and stubborn dirt spots that will need attention. Make sure to use the vacuum attachments to get down into the crevices of cushions.
Next, you should use a steam cleaner. You will want to consider all the costs involved with this item and decide if you want rent or purchase one. If you think you will use it frequently, I recommend purchasing a steam cleaner, which usually range from $40-$150. Although the cost of a bottle of cleaner will surprise you (usually $15-$20), continuous rentals can add up over time as well.
For newer stains, visit the A-Z Stain Removal guide for instructions on how to attack every possible stain under the sun.
For larger overhauls or older, more delicate pieces, calling in a professional upholstery cleaner company might save you time and energy and will give you peace of mind knowing the job is done thoroughly and properly. Chem-dry is a process that is safe for all kinds of upholstery. It uses a carbonated solution where the tiny bubbles “explode dirt and grime off the fibers surface.”