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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Caring for Upholstery

submitted by Barb Ogg, Extension Educator
This article appears in the July 18, 2004 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Upholstered furniture many times get neglected when it comes to cleaning. Without regular care, even the most durable upholstery will look old and worn before its time. To prolong the furniture’s life, The Soap and Detergent Association offers the following tips.

First on the care agenda is regular vacuuming. This simple operation removes the tiny bits of dust, food and dirt that can cause so much damage. When ground into the upholstery, these particles can make the fabric look dingy and cause premature wear. Use headrest and armrest covers to provide extra protection from body soils. If cushions are reversible, turn them over from time to time to prevent sagging and even out the wear.

To prevent fading, keep the furniture out of direct sunlight. If this isn’t possible, rearrange the room periodically. Most upholstery fabrics are treated with topical stain protectors. Check the furniture labels and hangtags. If the fabric was not treated, consider a home or professional application. Since all these protectors are applied to the fabric’s surface, they will eventually wear off. To extend the life of the fabric, the protector should be reapplied every few years.

When spots and stains occur, threat them immediately. To prevent the stain from spreading, always work from the outer edge of the spot to the center. Use a spoon to gently scrape off solids. Use a dry, white paper towel to blot up spills. Continue blotting, using a clean portion of the toweling, until the spill is absorbed. The next step is to use a upholstery cleaner. Before doing this, check the furniture care label, then choose a cleaner that is compatible with the care instructions or, if indicated, consult a professional cleaner.

Read and follow the label directions on the upholstery cleaner package. Before applying a cleaner to the spot, test it on an inconspicuous place for color fastness. For both testing and actual stain removal, apply the cleaner to a towel, then dab the stain with the moistened towel. Avoid over-wetting. It will only spread the stain. Blot, don’t scrub. Continue, working patiently until all the color from the stain has been transferred to the towel. When finished, blot the area dry or use a portable hair dryer.

By giving furniture attention from the time it is purchased you will have a product that will serve for many years.

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