It doesn’t matter if you have a big home or not. Everyone has furniture. Even smaller homes and apartments will be filled with furniture made of all different materials and fabrics. In this post we’ll be offering some top tips to clean furniture so you can achieve the very best results.
You might not have to clean furniture as often as benchtops and floors, bathrooms and kitchens, but it does need a thorough cleaning from time to time. While this post won’t go into massive detail, it will cover the best ways to clean some of the most common furniture materials and fabrics.
Cleaning Wood and Timber Furniture
Natural timber is timeless and quite beautiful. Even a lot of the manufactured woods – such as MDF – can look really stunning these days.
So what are some cool tips for cleaning and looking after timber furniture, natural or otherwise?
More often than not you can simply dust your wood and timber furniture, or even run a damp cloth over it regularly. Depending on the finish, furniture polish can give fantastic results on wood, but it can leave a build up of film over time.
If the wooden surface isn’t painted, highly polished, lacquered or oiled, it could be porous and absorb stains and grime, much like grout will between tiles.
As an example, if you have a timber table top that happens to be a little porous and has suffered staining, it’s going to require a bit of deep cleansing.
Remove any surface dust first to avoid staining the table even more, then mix up a solution of warm water and a dash of dish washing liquid. Detergent for washing dishes has some great grease busting qualities, and you’ll often find stains on the table are somewhat oil-based.
You might need to increase the amount of dish detergent, depending on how badly embedded the staining is.
Don’t use a wet cloth when you do this, just a damp one.
Another tip is to either use baking soda or toothpaste to remove stains. This has proven to be really effective for lifting off and getting rid of those coffee mug rings often found on wooden table tops.
The Best Ways To Clean Fabric
Many dining chairs, lounges, sofas and armchairs are covered in fabric. The problem with most fabrics is they are porous, are prone to staining, and also allow the build up of odours.
Let’s see what we can do to counteract all that.
One obvious thing is to treat any spills on fabric immediately. Don’t wait for them to dry and set. Before you do anything, check any manufacturer’s tags on the furniture first to see what their recommendations are for cleaning.
Spills can often simply be attacked with a cloth dampened with water first. If that doesn’t mop it up, try a mild detergent if the manufacturer doesn’t advise against it.
It’s always wise to test a cleaning product on a portion of the fabric that’s not as visible first, just to see what the results are.
I always find drying out the stain with some paper towel is good after treating it with water or detergent, as it really absorbs the moisture. Heavy duty Chux works well for this purpose too.
Apart from immediate spills, another way to remove stains and really freshen up the fabric on your couch, chairs and so on is to use a steam cleaner purpose built for the job. The steam loosens the particles without the need for a lot of water of detergents, and can be one of the cleanest, least messy and most effective ways of cleaning fabric furniture.
After treatment with hot steam, the fabric also dries quickly so you can use the furniture piece again sooner rather than later. Steam also freshens up the smell of that piece of furniture.
Generally you should always vacuum your furniture before attempting any form of liquid or steam cleaning. This removes loose and obvious debris, lessening the chances of actually making the fabric even more sullied.
Many vacuum cleaners have a number of handy attachments that are awesome for cleaning couches and chairs.
Baking soda mixed with a little water is another great stain buster for fabrics. Always test first on a less obvious piece of fabric, as baking soda is a mild form of bleach.
To remove odours from fabric covered foam underlay furniture, you can sprinkle carpet deodoriser on the fabric, let it sit for a while, then simply vacuum it off.
Another option for drying the fabric after cleaning with a solution or a damp cloth is to use a hairdryer. The faster you can dry a wet patch on the fabric, then less chance there will be any water marks left behind from the cleaning process.
Cleaning PU Leather and Vinyl
PU leather and vinyl are extremely similar. While vinyl is a synthetic material attached to a fabric backing, PU leather is also a synthetic material, but it’s attached to a layer of lower grade leather as a backing, giving it added strength and longevity.
Most of the time all you’ll need to do to clean PU leather and vinyl is to run a cloth dampened with water over it, then towel it dry. Occasionally, just a light warm soapy water mix swabbed over the furniture will really freshen it up, but make sure to rinse off with clean water after, then towel dry.
PU leather and vinyl is very simple to clean and look after and doesn’t really attract any odours. Don’t use any oil based substances on it though, as the oil will actually dry out the vinyl surface and cause it to crack and tear.
What About Genuine Leather?
Genuine leather is worth looking after. Not only is it expensive, but if you take care of leather, your furniture will last you for many, many years.
The good news is that leather is actually quite easy to take care of. Add in the fact that it’s super luxurious and you’re on a real winner when you own genuine leather furniture.
There are specialist leather cleaners on the market for effective leather cleaning and odour removal (not that leather really attracts odours much).
Usually, on a semi regular basis, you can clean leather and freshen it up with a damp cloth, then dry it off. If you do happen to get any stains on the leather, warm soapy water will usually do the trick to remove them. It’s not like cleaning fabric.
Also try a mix of olive oil and white vinegar in a spray bottle. After spraying the leather, buff off with a clean, dry cloth. The vinegar kills bacteria to reduce odours, and the olive oil will keep the leather soft and supple.
You need to keep your leather furniture moisturised.
Cleaning Metal Surfaces
Metal, whether painted or not, is very easy to clean. Pretty much just a damp cloth to remove the build up of dust is all you need to do.
Most metal surfaces are coated or treated so they won’t rust or tarnish, no matter what kind of metal or alloy it may be.
Even still, it’s always wise to dry off the metal with a clean cloth after running the damp cloth over it.
The only real exception to any of the above would be cast iron or wrought iron. Fortunately most furniture isn’t made from either of these nowadays, but even if it is, the metal surface has usually been treated or coated so it doesn’t rust.
The great attribute of laminated furniture – which is usually table tops and counters – is it’s extremely easy to clean and take care of. Simply spray the surface with a mild cleaning agent and give it a good buff.
Often just some plain water or a mild detergent is all that’s needed.
So what if the surface somehow gets stained?
It really depends on the nature of the stain. Many stains can be removed with a gentle cleanser, unless the laminate surface has been damaged, in which case there is nothing you can really do. For more stubborn stains, make up a paste of baking soda and water, apply it to the stain and just let it sit for an hour or so, then carefully and gently remove it.
Don’t rub at the stain with the paste, because baking soda is slightly abrasive and can scratch the laminate surface.
For things like ink stains, acetone or alcohol might be required. Keep in mind though, that these substances are quite harsh and could cause discolouration of the laminated surface. Always test first on a more obscure section of the furniture.
Cleaning Natural Stone Counters and Table Tops
Granite is a lot more hardy than some other natural stones that may be used for countertops in the kitchen, or used for table tops.
However, most natural stones don’t like acidic spills, such as alcohol and citrus juices, so always be sure to clean these up ASAP.
Generally just your typical spray ’n’ wipe type cleaners or some soapy water will be enough to do the trick with most natural stone furniture surfaces.
Bleach can be employed to remove some mild stains, but any stains that are etched in deeply may require grinding by a professional and resealing of the stone’s surface. Bleach is also really good for removing any build up of cooking oils and so on.
Most furniture surfaces are fairly easy to maintain if you stay on top of things and mop up spills as soon as they occur.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and test areas of cloth in obscure areas first before attacking the main fabric areas.
Most of the time a cloth dampened with water is all that’s required to keep your furniture looking and smelling fresh and dust free.