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Cleaning Your Furniture
We’re back to begin deep cleaning your various types of furniture without a steam cleaner. But before we start Spring cleaning your furniture, don’t forget to start your laundry first. Then you want to run through the house with a laundry basket, gathering things like dishes, toys, books and other out of place items to put in their proper places. Finish off with a quick straightening of each room, such as making beds, straightening throw rugs, fluffing pillows on the sofa, and so on.
After the house has basic orderliness, it’s time to do some actual cleaning. This time we want to dust and clean our furniture.
When we clean our furniture, we have to use the correct techniques for each type of surface. A multitude of different materials contributes to the beauty of our furniture, whether antique or modern. This blog post is aimed at taking care of more modern furniture, since antique furniture is a specialty in and of itself.
The main surfaces I want to talk about today are upholstery fabrics, leather, solid woods, marble, granite, quartz, and laminates. Each of these surfaces needs a specific technique.
This method is for upholstery which is labeled with a code W or WS. The label is usually beneath the cushions on your sofa or chair, sewn into a seam. For a code S, you can vacuum and spot-clean, but skip the suds-in-water trick talked about below. If it has a code X, you should vacuum it only. If that is not sufficient, you need to hire a professional to do a deep clean.
Cleaning Your Upholstered Furniture
Let’s start by gathering some tools and materials. We will be using a vacuum with an upholstery attachment, some white lint-free cloths, a quality clear soap, a soft large cleaning brush, and a large bowl or a bucket.
I usually gather up my vacuum with the upholstery attachment, some glass cloths OR light colored microfiber cloths, Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds OR Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Castile Soap in liquid form, a soft cleaning brush, if I have one, or a silicone brush, and a large stainless steel bowl I reserve for cleaning.
Step by Step Cleaning
The first step is using the vacuum with the upholstery attachment to vacuum from one end of the furniture piece to the other. If the fabric has a nap, be sure to vacuum along the fabric in the same direction to keep the nap lying smoothly. Use short strokes that overlap so that you cover every inch of the fabric.
Next I remove any cushions and use the soft brush to brush dust and pet hair out of seams or tufted areas, or in button-decorated spots.
Using your vacuum with the upholstery attachment, vacuum under the cushions. This helps remove the dust and hair swept out of the nook and crannies above.
In the bowl or bucket, mix 1/2 teaspoon of the soap into a quart of cool water, whipping up as much suds as you can. You will actually use the suds, not the water, to clean the upholstery. You don’t want to wet the fabric any more than absolutely necessary.
Dip the soft brush into the suds (not the water) and apply it with the brush from one side of the piece of furniture to the other. Continue doing so until the entire piece has been covered.
To finish the cleaning, use the glass cloths or light colored microfiber cloths to rub the upholstery in the same way. Change the area of the cloth used as necessary.
Let the upholstery dry completely. Then you can enjoy your refreshed and clean upholstered furniture fully.
Cleaning Furniture Made with Laminates
Often used for table tops and bookcases, laminates are a favorite of many for their items that see everyday use. Laminates are formed by layering resins and paper products, which are then melted and compressed into a tough but decorative sheet. This sheet is then cut to size and applied with special glues, to cover particle board or other bases.
Cleaning laminates is often as simple as using a damp microfiber cloth. Wipe down the surface, moving along the grain if there is one.
If more cleaning is required to remove grime or grease, use soap and warm water with your cloth. Rinse with a clean damp cloth and allow the piece to dry before use.
Just remember these points: you want to be sure to avoid using any ammonia-based cleaner, as it can cause damage that creates a cloudy look on your laminate. There are laminate countertop polishes you can use to recover shine, but be sure it is NOT made with silicone. Silicone causes buildup on your surfaces.
Cleaning Solid Wood Furniture
Your laminate surfaces should look lovely now.
Solid wood furniture is also best cleaned with a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water and then wrung out as much as possible. This picks up the dust without just pushing it around.
If a deeper clean is needed, you can add a bit of soap to the warm water and wash it again. Don’t use a detergent, as they tend to make the wood dull-looking.
If the wood still seems grimy, mix 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar into a cup of water and dip your cloth into the cup. Remove as much moisture as possible from the cloth and rub the grimy spots gently.
Cleaning Furniture with Marble Inserts
Marble is a beautiful stone, but it has its weaknesses. Its beauty is too often marred by stains and etching. I think we all know what stains are, but what is etching? Well, it’s when an acidic substance like tomato sauce, vinegar or alcohol is dropped on marble and left there. The acid reacts with the stone surface and leaves a dull, somewhat darker spot or ring where the substance landed.
It’s a good idea to use a sealant once a month after gently cleaning the marble surface. This leaves a surface that is easily wiped clean with our famous microfiber cloth and warm water.
If stains do occur, it is best to consult an authority about the proper solution. A good online resource is The National Stone Institute [LINK TK].
Cleaning Granite Furniture Tops and Countertops
For granite, such as granite countertops, a bit of sal suds or unscented castile soap in warm water and a soft cloth will clean it easily. Do be sure to rinse with a warm, damp cloth and then wipe dry with another soft cloth to avoid water spots and streaks. Also, be careful to keep acidic substances, like lemon juice and vinegar, off the granite.
Cleaning Quartz Countertops and Inserts
Quartz is pretty tough stuff, although there are a few bad ideas here. Don’t use scouring pads or scouring powder (such as Bon Ami). Make sure chemicals such as these don’t land on your quartz surface:
- nail polish remover
- commercial drain cleaners
- oven cleaners
- dishwasher rinse agents
- full-strength bleach
If they do, wipe them up and rinse with clear water immediately.
To clean the quartz safely, mix one-half cup of white vinegar into two cups of water and pour into a spray bottle. When needed, spray it on your countertop or insert and allow it to sit there for a minute or two. Use a soft cloth to wipe it up.
Cleaning Leather Furniture
You can clean your leather furniture in different ways, depending on the type of leather involved. However, you should never use the following on leather:
- saddle soap
- furniture polishes
- abrasive materials
- any cleaners with caustic ingredients.
Top of the line leather furniture is created with aniline leather. Leather that is colored with special soluble dyes is called aniline leather. The finish is more delicate than that of other leather types, but the texture and feel of the leather is most natural of all the types. For cleaning, however, I suggest hiring a professional. This furniture is worth using a professional service, and they should have the right knowledge and tools to do it correctly.
Semi-aniline and pigmented leather are tougher and more easily cleanable. On these, you can attempt a gentle cleaning. For these leathers, take a look at the brands of products that are often suggested by furniture manufacturers. Some of these include Lexol, Mohawk, Leather Master and Leather Magic. Be sure to read and follow the instructions for each product you use.