Kids are rough on furniture and upholstery. They put their shoes on the couch, jump on the chairs, pull off the loveseat pillows to make forts, drip juice on the wood table.
Most living areas have pretty standard types of furniture, but each requires different care and cleaning routine. We'll talk about each of these in turn: upholstered furniture, leather furniture, wood furniture, and pianos.
This furniture and upholstery cleaning guide can help you keep these big-ticket items looking presentable.
The good news is that even though the big ticket items in your home get plenty of abuse from the little bodies who reside there too, you can keep furniture nice - and clean.
Furniture and upholstery cleaning tips to protect your investment:
No matter how many house rules you have about no eating in the living room, someone will eventually spill juice on your sofa. It's just one of those things a Mom can count on. Another reason to make furniture and upholstery cleaning a priority in your home.
Clean upholstery spills with a clean cloth. Blot, don't rub! These cleaning codes for upholstery can provide more specific cleaning tips:
If you look at the tags on your sofa cushions, you'll see either a W, S, WS, or X. (If your upholstered furniture doesn't have a code, test a cleaner on a hidden spot first or call a professional upholstery cleaner.)
These furniture and upholstery cleaning codes tell you how to clean the upholstery. Here's what they stand for:
W = Water-based cleaning agent. Clean with a water-based product such as a little foam from a mild detergent or nonsolvent upholstery shampoo. Use as little foam and water as possible to do the job; you don't want to get the upholstery too wet.
S = Solvent. Clean with a mild water-free dry-cleaning solvent. Use just a little, and make sure you have plenty of ventilation. Don't put any water on it.
WS = Water-based cleaning agent or solvent. Depending on the stain, you can use a dry-cleaning solution, the foam of a mild detergent, or upholstery shampoo for upholstery cleaning.
X = Don't clean it yourself. Hire an upholstery cleaning professional. You can, however, do basic funiture cleaning youself, such as vacuuming or brushing off surface grime.
By the way, zippered cushion covers do not mean you can remove the covers for cleaning separately. The zippers are there to provide a tighter fit. If you clean covers separately, they may shrink, tear, or discolor. It's deceptive, I know. I've bought couches myself on the mistaken notion I could clean the removable covers.
There are two main types of leather: protected leather, which has a finish, and unprotected leather, which is natural or unfinished.
Most furniture is covered with protected leathers because they are durable and stain resistant. Protected leathers are fairly puncture-resistant and don't rip or tear easily. And unlike fabric upholstery, leather gets better with age. Leather is also preferable for people with allergies because you can remove all dust from its surface.
To preserve your leather furniture, keep it at least two feet away from heat vents or other heat sources. Don't expose leather furniture to direct sunlight or it could dry out and crack.
Each week, wipe leather with a soft cloth. Each month, clean it with a gentle cleaning agent, such as liquid Ivory dish soap mixed in lukewarm water.
To prevent problems with wood furniture, always use coasters and trivets. Put felt under bowls and figurines on furniture to prevent them from scratching the wood.
Protect wood from direct sunlight, which can dry out and bleach the wood. Keep wood furniture away from heat vents. Protect wood tables with tablecloths.
Your wood furniture cleaning routine depends on the type of wood (solid or veneer) and the way it's been treated or finished. When you take care of wood furniture, you're really taking care of the finish, and there are various types.
The wood can have a soft oil finish or a factory-applied hard finish. A layer of polyurethane can even protect it.
Dust wood weekly with a very soft cloth or feather duster. Wash wood once a year. Dampen a cloth with a mild soap solution and wipe the wood. Rinse then wipe dry.
A few times a year, polish natural woods to keep them from drying out. Always use the same kind of polish. If you use oil polish one time and wax polish the next, it could cause a cloudy finish. Avoid silicone finishes because they are hard to remove and can build up over time. They also show smudges more.
Laminates, varnishes, and sealed wood surfaces do not need polishing. Just wipe them off with a damp cloth.
Generally, you should treat pianos with standard wood finished as you would any wood. Many pianos, however, have high-gloss finishes, which are sealed at furniture factories to protect the wood.
This seal prevents polishes and waxes from penetrating the wood, so using polishes only muddies the shine. All you need to do to keep a high-gloss piano gleaming is to rub the surface with a piece of damp chamois and then buff it with a dry chamois.
Keep dust out of piano keys by closing the cover after use. Clean the keys occasionally by rubbing them lightly with a little toothpaste on a cloth. Then wipe off with a damp cloth and dry.