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How to Clean Furniture and Keep It Looking Brand New

When you add a new piece of furniture to your home, you want to ensure it will be a staple for years to come. Whether it’s a hardwood coffee table, an upholstered couch or your favorite leather chair, it’s a priority to keep your furniture looking new.

With a few simple steps, keeping furniture at its best is easy. Follow these instruction on how to make sure your furniture stands the test of time.

Leather Furniture Care

A fine piece of leather furniture is a prized item in many homes. Whether it’s a recliner, a couch or a unique chair, make sure your leather is kept in the best shape for years to come.

Thankfully, leather is one of the most durable and easy-to-maintain options on the market. It does, however, still require proper care.

Because it’s a natural material, leather has some unique characteristics. You might notice your furniture has different colors, grains and other natural markings throughout the piece. This is to be expected from a piece of leather furniture. Here are a few tips for proper leather furniture care:

  • Don’t use normal cleaners. Occasionally wiping your leather furniture with a damp cloth is all it should need to stay looking its best. Stay away from acidic soap, which can cause damage and will throw off the natural pH balance found in the leather. Soap also can make leather look aged and will discolor or weaken the leather over time.
  • Clean spills immediately. If left to sit, spots and spills can easily be absorbed by the leather, although leather will naturally repel most liquids on contact. Be sure to blot, not rub, excess spills with a clean rag or sponge. If stains don’t evaporate over time, use a clean cloth or sponge and a mild, non-acidic soap and rub back to front or side to side. Avoid rubbing in circles.
  • Use distilled water. Make sure you clean outside of the stained area to avoid any spotting on your leather. Use distilled water and wipe the leather clean with a damp cloth. Rub in one direction. Let it air dry and if the stain remains, you may want to repeat these steps.
  • Avoid acidic soaps. Keep in mind that acidic soaps also should be avoided for protected leathers. Blot liquids right away to avoid any staining. Rinse away any mild soap with a clean, damp cloth or sponge.
  • Avoid sun exposure. The sun can fade your leather furniture over time. One of the easiest ways to ensure your leather furniture doesn’t fade is to rearrange furniture at least once a year.
  • Keep bodily fluids away. Sweat and body oil can cause permanent damage to unprotected leather furniture by making it crack and dry out. Be sure to avoid flopping on the couch after a heavy workout so you can keep those stains at bay. You also can help keep oils away by putting towels where heads might rest, or buying arm covers to lengthen the life of the fabric.
  • Let the leather clean itself. Many stains will evaporate from leather over time. Oil or other grease stains can be wiped with a dry cloth and then left alone. It will either evaporate or dissipate deep into the leather in a matter of time. This makes leather a great way to furnish homes with pets or kids. Don’t believe the rumors that it will be easily damaged by your children or pets – unless either decides to use it as a scratching post.
  • Work out light scratches. Distilled water can help you lightly buffer out minor scratches on leather. Simply apply it to a cloth and buffer it out, or use your fingers.
  • Call a leather specialist. Deeper scratches or tears can be repaired by calling a leather specialist. Don’t wait too long to call for help because a tear can get worse over time.
  • Use a conditioner every six months to one year. Leather conditioners are a great way to ensure your leather furniture is cared for. Don’t feel like you have to use it once a month. About once every six months to a year is plenty to keep it looking fresh. The great thing about leather is that the more it’s used, the better it looks and the softer it gets. This is a great way to ensure leather furniture is used for decades.

Upholstered Furniture Care

Upholstered furniture comes with many benefits, such as increased levels of comfort and unique fabric designs. But upholstered furniture also comes with specific instructions for best care. Consider the following upholstered furniture care tips:

  • Avoid direct contact with heating and cooling. Keep upholstered furniture away from direct sources of heating and cooling units. This means keep it about 20 inches away from baseboard heaters to avoid dangerous situations and unnecessary wear.
  • Maintain ideal temperature. Ensure your furniture stays in environments where the temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees, with humidity at about 35 to 40 percent.
  • Vacuum regularly. Learning how to clean your upholstered furniture is the best way to ensure it stays in top shape. Dust, crumbs and other debris act as a natural abrasive. Vacuum regularly or about once a week to keep crumbs, pet hair and dust away.
  • Don’t worry about pilling. It’s natural for most upholstered pieces and doesn’t indicate that anything is wrong with the fabric. You can vacuum up the extra pilling or use a sweater or fabric shaver to return your furniture to its original glory.
  • Minimize pet hair. Use a lint roller to easily pick up pet hair that has fallen on furniture. Sweater brushes with a bristled head also work well to sweep up loose hairs and trap them in place. Vacuuming might also help with this problem. If your pet seems to be shedding excessively, it might be best to lay an old blanket on the couch or chair. You can also train your pet to stay off furniture.
  • Take care of cushions. Rotate your cushions by flipping them over about every few months. Cushions with zippers are a good indicator of a furniture maintenance tip right under your nose. Read the care instructions for cushion covers. Most cannot be thrown in the washing machine, but instead must be dry cleaned or otherwise specialty cleaned. Remove covers for spot cleaning and to make sure the cushion inside, or even the other side of the fabric, doesn’t become damaged.
  • Check for potential problems. Do you notice buttons coming loose or threads popping up here and there? Address these problems early on before they become bigger issues. Cut threads or tighten any loose pieces before you start to vacuum.
  • Test cleaning products. If you have a new piece of furniture, it’s important to determine what products are safe to use for cleaning. The tag on your furniture should have instructions for what is safe and what could potentially cause damage. No matter what you use, be sure to test it in a smaller area first.
  • Fluff it. Whether it’s your cushions or the back of the couch, be sure to fluff it to make it look fresh and hold its shape. This is especially true for upholstered furniture with down, feathers and fiber, which might require more frequent fluffing.
  • Prevent stains. The best way to protect furniture is to prevent stains. This can easily be done by keeping food and beverages away from furniture, or taking your shoes off before you sit on the couch. If your pet likes to sit with you on the couch, keep a towel or blanket nearby. Put it under your pet to keep body fluids or natural oils from staining the furniture.

Hardwood Furniture Care

The ways to clean hardwood furniture can seem daunting. You might be afraid that it will stain or crack. Maybe you’re always tossing coasters under the sweaty glasses of guests. Trust that your efforts have not been in vain. Follow these wood furniture care tips to further protect your furniture and ensure it will be around for years to come:

  • Dust often. Dust can easily build up on hardwood furniture, becoming unsightly and taking away from the natural beauty that hardwood brings to a home. Use a light dusting spray or a cloth damp with water to keep your hardwood furniture clean. Be sure to wipe in the direction of the grain. Wipe away any moisture with a dry, lint-free cloth.
  • Let the wood breathe. Because wood is a natural element, it needs to breathe so that odd marks or stains don’t suddenly seem to appear. Avoid plastic, rubber, vinyl or cork on your hardwood furniture. Some plastics have harsh chemicals that can damage the wood finish, leaving behind indents, discoloration and sometimes even remove the finish. Sometimes plastic pads on the bottom of alarm clocks, vases, picture frames and other decorative items also can damage the wood.
  • Find alternatives to protect your wood. Try to keep plastic tablecloths or placements away from wood furniture, or use them for only a short time. Using felt, leather or other fabric is a better alternative for protecting your wood. If you do keep items on top of your hardwood furniture, move them around every few weeks to let the wood breathe.
  • Avoid scratches. Be sure to pick items up when you move them around the table. Sliding them can cause scratches in the wood that are tough to remove or can ruin the finish. Try not to hit the wooden legs of tables or sofas with the vacuum. Small scratches can be touched up with a specialty pen or wax of the same color. Furniture polish should be applied afterward to give it a clean, shiny finish.
  • Avoid spills. Any spill should be promptly wiped off the table to avoid white spots that can ruin the finish. Medicines, perfumes, chemicals and some cleaning products also can cause the finish to wear off, often leaving stains that are tough to remove. Keep liquids away if you can. Avoid direct contact with coasters, table pads or vanity trays for dresser tops. If any chemicals get on the hardwood furniture, blot it and don’t rub.
  • Give water marks time to evaporate. Over time, water marks can evaporate. If they remain after a month or more, take oil or mayonnaise and apply a small amount to a clean cloth. Rub the oil against the grain. Wipe it dry and polish and your mark should be diminished or gone. This practice also helps with removing heat stains.
  • Use polish and wax. Many modern finishes don’t require the polishing that older furniture does, but it’s still a good idea to do so. Polishing and waxing makes wood look shiny, clean and new. Beeswax formulas are good for open grained woods, while covered grains with finished surfaces will look best with a silicone/wax polish. Avoid over waxing or over polishing your furniture. Once a month or so is usually often enough for most pieces.
  • Call a professional. If damage remains, call a professional to treat the wood and refinish it to its original state.

Marble Furniture Care

Marble furniture adds a distinguished look to any home. While most stone pieces, such as marble, granite, slate and other items are durable, they still need to be regularly cared for to ensure they last a long time.

  • Protect the surface. Use coasters under beverages, especially if they have alcohol or some sort of citrus juice inside. Alcohol and citrus can cause damage to the surface of marble furniture. Use hot pads under hot dishes or a tablecloth or placemat under dishes that could scratch the marble top.
  • Clean with water. Nature’s simple cleaning product, water, is the best way to care for marble furniture. Use warm water on a clean cloth to wipe up spills. Dry it completely. Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners, such as bleach, ammonia and even vinegar. Because most marbles are protected with a coating, they should be easier to care for. To restore a natural luster, invest in a marble polish or wax.
  • Practice everyday maintenance. Maintain a routine to ensure you stay on top of potential wear and tear or future problems. Quality furniture is an investment, and many pieces can last a lifetime or be passed on to younger generations when they start to furnish their own homes.

Outdoor Furniture Care

Looking to keep your outdoor furniture looking brand new as well? Check out our comprehensive guide on outdoor furniture care to keep metal, teak, wicker, plastic and upholstered outdoor furniture looking its best.

Keep these furniture maintenance tips in mind the next time you’re in the market to buy. Visit INTERIORS HOME to find the best options for decorating your home.