Less Is More When You Clean Furnishings - dummies

Less Is More When You Clean Furnishings

By Gill Chilton

There is no set frequency for deep cleaning furniture or upholstery. In fact, less is better. Surprisingly, water is frequently your furniture’s enemy number one.

Plain, simple, straight-from-the-tap water is a prime cleaning solution ingredient, but too much of it can ruin upholstery and permanently stain wood furniture.

Whilst deep cleaning removes grime and grease, it also subjects your furniture to extra wear and tear. Getting furniture too clean too often shortens the time it stays smart. In particular, stop to think before you clean something that’s new to your home or something that’s very old.

It’s a fact that years of accumulated dirt and dust can hold together fabric. Remove the soil and curtains – somehow, it always seems to be curtains – literally fall apart.

Keep the care instructions that come with sofas, flat-pack furniture, mattresses, and so on. Many of us hang onto the leaflets that come with electrical appliances but chuck everything else. The reality is that there’s precious little you can do for a tumble dryer if it breaks, except call in the repair person, but you’ll regularly want to refer to instructions on how to safely clean your sofa.

Whenever you think about cleaning a major item in your home, get the duster out first. This may be all it needs. When dry dusting isn’t enough, move onto damp dusting. To add the least water possible, simply spray water onto your cloth. The trigger bottle you use to mist houseplant leaves is perfect.

In many cases, you may want to follow up on your basic dusting with the appropriate vacuum-cleaner tool. For fabric and hard, flat surfaces, vacuuming always beats dusting in effectiveness. With sofas and curtains, slip on the upholstery tool; use the crevice tool for wood and metal shelving.

Only if dusting or vacuuming doesn’t shift ingrained dirt, or reveals a stain problem, do you move on to any other type of cleaning.

The big aim of cleaning is to take on the everyday light cleaning – all that dusting and vacuuming – more regularly so that you can keep the heavy cleans, which wear your furniture out as much as they do you, to a minimum. A few tips can make cleaning specific items easier:

  • Carry a tray with handles when you clean desks, tables, and shelves. With somewhere safe to store things, it takes only a moment to empty that table-top and so give it a really good clean. Dusting around is never the same!

  • Sticky fingerprints cluster on the sides of dining chairs and the edges of tables. Rub them away with a dampened microfibre cloth or soapy suds on a sponge.

  • Have a favourite piece that you’re really fussy about keeping clean? Get close and look at the surface from an angle rather than straight on and you’ll spot any marks you’ve missed.