Basic Upholstery Cleaning

Tips to keep your furniture at its best
Upholstery Cleaning
Vacuum regularly with upholstery attachment tools—the broad-throated one to dislodge dust from flat surfaces, including cushions, and the crevice tool to reach the inner corners.
Vacuum regularly with upholstery attachment tools—the broad-throated one to dislodge dust from flat surfaces, including cushions, and the crevice tool to reach the inner corners.
Turn over loose seat and back cushions and throw pillows every few weeks to distribute the wear evenly. Unless you have a washable slipcover, never remove and wash cushion covers—the zippers are there solely to aid the "dressing" process as the piece is manufactured.
Cleaning codes
Many new sofas and chairs come with a care label indicating the type of cleaning required. The code classifications are "W," safe to clean with water or water-based cleaners; "S," dry clean or spot clean with dry cleaning solvents; "W-S," safe for water or solvent; and "X," clean only with brush or vacuum.
If the spot or stain is small and the fabric has a "W" cleaning code and has no stain- or soil-resistant finish, then you may try removing the spot yourself. Always pre-test the solution first.
Pre-testing a cleaning solution
Working a hidden area of the upholstery, such as the back side of a skirt or under a cushioned area, pre-test your dry-cleaning fluid or homemade cleaner. If the solution does not spot the fabric when you test it, you have a chance at success in removing the accidental spot. If the solution causes a problem on its own, do not proceed. Instead, blot out as much of the problem as possible and turn the job over to a professional, the sooner the better.
Professional furniture cleaning
In most cases, a professional's service will be needed to remove bad spots and stains and deeply ingrained soil. If a friend cannot recommend someone, consult the Yellow Pages of the telphone book under "Furniture Cleaning." Typical methods offered will be steam-cleaning, dry-cleaning and dry foam cleaning. Be aware that any cleaning procedure will destroy the original protective coating on your upholstery. You should apply a new stain-resistant finish; it won't be as effective as the factory-applied one.
Cleaning with homemade solution
Read the instructions on the tag to see what type of care is recommended for your fabric. If you can't find that information, have a professional clean the upholstery. It's better to play it safe than to ruin the fabric and need to have the piece reupholstered
For a homemade "W" class cleaner, mix one teaspoon of liquid dish or mild laundry detergent (with no bleach) in a cup of warm water. In another bowl, mix a tablespoon of ammonia with 1/2 cup of water. Pre-test, then dab the solutions alternately on the spot. Blot with a clean damp sponge after each step. When clean, sponge with clear water and blot dry.
Pre-treating slipcover spots
The arms and back fo washable slipcovers will probably pick up the most soil. If necessary, try pre-treating these areas after removing the slipcover from the furniture but before washing.
With a hand mixer, mix 1/4 cup liquid laundry detergent in one cup of water until it foams up to the consistency of whipped cream. Spread the suds over the soild area and gently rub them into the fabric. When you see the dirt lifting, scrape off the dirty suds with a spatula. Reeat if necessary.
Washing slipcovers
Slipcovers should always be professionally drycleaned unless they are clearly marked "washable."
Give your slipcovers a good shake outdoors before you put them in the washer and check to see if pre-treating for stains is needed. Always wash all the pieces at the same time (though it may take several machine loads) so the color stays even. Dry on medium to low heat; don't line dry because the weight of the slipcover may distort the fabric. Slipcovers will fit best if you take them out of the dryer before they are completely dry. Put the slipcovers on the frame or cushions while they are slightly damp. Smooth them into place, straightening seams and pinching pleats by hand or with a hand-steamer.

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