Your living room sofa is the one piece of home furniture that immediately catches the attention of people who walk into your flat. Its cleanliness and condition says much about your personality and hygiene.
Same goes for the seats in your car. Your passengers begin forming impressions about you even before they settle down on the seats.
So it's important to try and keep your upholstery clean. But how do you do it? Here are a few simple tips to make cleaning upholstery a snap.
First, determine what kind of material your car or furniture upholstery is made of. The cleaning solvents you use for fabric upholstery may be completely unsuitable for - and even damaging to - leather upholstery, and vice versa. Check the labels of the cleaning products to verify what materials they could be used for.
You also need to have on hand other cleaning tools. A hand-held brush is splendid for scraping food debris, hair clumps, and dust from most types of upholstery. You may also need a small dustpan or bin to throw the dirt into afterwards.
A compact portable vacuum cleaner with interchangeable nozzles would be useful for sucking up particles from hard-to-reach areas. Also be armed with some paper towels and cloths to wipe off excess cleaning solutions, and a little spray bottle of water for rinsing.
Once you've got your materials on hand, begin by removing pillows and seat cushions. Prep your furniture for cleaning by scraping off dried debris with a brush and spatula; remove liquid spots with paper towels.
Vacuum off any loose particles. Once these are removed, you can perform the rest of the cleaning process. The next part of the process depends on whether you are cleaning leather or fabric upholstery.
Leather is generally more resistant against spills, so you can easily wipe the mess off with a damp cloth. Leather is also much easier to maintain than fabric, because you can use ordinary soap and water for cleaning it.
If you prefer to use specially formulated cleaners, follow instructions on the can or bottle to ensure thorough cleaning. Avoid using the solution on metal parts of the furniture, as these may cause corrosion.
Allow the sofa's surface to dry completely before you let anybody sit on it.
Water mixed with a light soap or liquid detergent can usually clean stains from cotton or polyester furniture. Massage the mixture into the fabric with a towel or a soft brush, lifting the fabric up slightly to minimize wetting the cushion, until the stain is removed. Do this gently to avoid ripping the fabric. Then dry the area with a hair blower.
For more delicate fabrics (such as satin and velvet) or for more persistent stains, use commercial dry cleaning solutions. Zealously follow the instructions to get the best results.
Afterwards, allow the area to dry completely. You might want to put out pillows and cushions under the sun to dry.
Other helpful tips
Make sure you have enough ventilation in the area because some cleaners can have very pungent odours.
In lieu of commercially prepared solutions, you can make your own solution by mixing a small amount of dish detergent (enough to cause light suds) with one cupful of water. This is not only cheaper but also gentler on your lungs. What's more, you can always use the leftover solution for washing your dishes or your car.
After you clean up your upholstery, the next step is to keep it as clean as possible for the longest time possible. Keep dogs off the couch, and cover your seats with a light blanket when you are not using them. Training your children in the proper use of furniture will also help tremendously.