We do invest a lot of emotion, as well as hard-earned cash into our upholstery. They provide a platform on which to sit round the table and dine with friends and family. They provide a place of comfort in which to relax or nurse an illness, or a safe position from which to drive a car. So it makes sense that we do try our best to maintain and look after them, but obviously with the heavy usage they tend to endure they can start to look worn and tired over time. So if your armchairs, car seats or sofas are beginning to look a little shabby, what more can you do?
1. Start with a thorough clean down to assess the issues
Vacuum your upholstery thoroughly, removing all dirt and particles from every nook and cranny using the various additional vacuum attachments. Next, give it a light wipe using some warm soapy water to remove anything loose on the surface and allow you to assess the issues clearly.
2. If you can remove the covers, do so
Most fabric-tailored sofas and chairs will have removable cushions, from which the covers can be unzipped and removed. This will allow you to treat these separately – soak, machine wash if appropriate (always check the label), and bring up to scratch in the same way as any other piece of fabric. This will also give you better to the other areas of the item that are physically attached to it.
3. Wash everything else down thoroughly if it is fabric.
Mix up a solution of warm water, detergent and washing up liquid and scrub the whole thing (it is usually prudent to test an inconspicuous area first). Be careful not to let too much water soak in to your chair or sofa – it will get into the stuffing which will take a lot longer to dry, and may not dry at all leading to mould growth and a ruined piece of furniture, which is not what you want to result from your cleaning! A good soap will usually do the trick for most stains and visible marks – if there is anything that is a bit more robust, try rubbing it with white wine vinegar first. White wine vinegar is a phenomenal natural cleaner, and if you dab a bit on to a tough stain it will usually break it down enough to be treatable. If not, your last resort is chemical products; a strong spot & stain remover should be able to tackle almost anything, but it is usually a last resort for most.
4. Leather upholstery is a whole new ball game
For those of you with leather upholstery, it does tend to me more robust and a little less susceptible to heavy staining. As long as you regularly hoover and wipe over with a slightly damp cloth you shouldn’t have too much in the way of problems, but if you do then your best bet is a specialist leather cleaning kit. Leather can be unpredictable, and it will not respond well to the majority of chemical treatments unless is has been specifically designed for leather. Therefore it is always best to go with a full cleaning kit, which you can find in any good supermarket and will provide all the tools you need to bring the item in question back to its best. They will usually contain a specialist leather shampoo, cloths and a protecting spray for application after cleaning.
If none of these things work, then call the professionals. Using industrial technology they can usually bring most pieces of furniture up a few notches in terms of appearance, but obviously their services do come at a cost.