Teja Lele Desai on how taking care of your couches, cushions and curtains need not be a big deal
What would a room be like without soft furnishings? No sofas, no couches, no divans…
The hard walls and corners may define our rooms but it’s the soft furnishings that make them into livable, homey spaces. Every home uses a wide range and variety of upholstery — on the sofas and couches, for the cushions and curtains, and more. It’s not easy to take care of upholstery, especially if it’s a home with young children and pets, but paying regular attention will keep your spaces looking good for a long time.
Clean furniture on a weekly basis, vacuuming cushions above and under. When vacuuming, check for loose buttons and threads, weak spots in the fabric, or debris that could clog the vacuum. Use the soft brush attachment and keep it clean and free of oily residue. Clean corners with the crevice tools.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning upholstery. Only use cleaners that are recommended or you may damage the fabric. Experimenting with cleaners and homemade solutions is not a good idea, especially when the stain or damage is huge.
Fluff and rotate cushions
Cushion interiors lose up to 25% of their volume in the first six months. Maintain the shape by shaking daily. Fluff and rotate the cushions regularly to prevent upholstery from becoming wrinkled or flattened and to ensure uniform wear.
No sitting on arms
As far as possible, avoid sitting on the arms of sofas and chairs as the upholstery will become distorted. Keep kids away from the arms as well. Jumping on the sofas needs to be discouraged — especially in homes with pets and children — to ensure that the cushioning and fabric don’t lose shape.
Away from sunlight
Keep upholstered items out of direct sunlight whenever possible to avoid fading. If the upholstery is near a window, control the light with shades, blinds, or draperies. Direct sunlight can damage the colour and there’s not much you can do except change the fabric.
Go for a deep-clean
Get your upholstered furniture deep-cleaned every six months. DIY works well, but commercial cleaners can get the dirt out really fast. If doing it yourself, remove all soap residue to avoid attracting dirt to the clean upholstery.
With a soil retardant
Use a cleaning product with a soil retardant to prevent future staining. If in doubt, check label directions or consult a professional cleaner about soil retardants. A professional treatment works well, especially in family homes.
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Slipcovers are super
In high-traffic rooms, remove slipcovers to spot-clean so that the upholstery underneath is not affected. Or else, put a clean folded towel under the slipcover to protect the upholstery as you spot-clean the slipcover.
Get pet hair and lint off
Keep furniture free of pet hair by using a clothes brush with either a bristle head or napped fabric head. If you’re in a hurry, wrap masking tape around your hand, sticky side out, to pick up loose hair and fuzz.
When it’s party time
When guests are over or a party is on, stash paper towels or a small terry towel nearby (may be under the seat cushions) to quickly deal with spills. Using the L-shaped tables on sofa arms gives them a convenient place to rest glasses and cups — helping avoid spills.
Get spills out
Never rub spills. That sets the stain. Gently blot as quickly as you can with a white paper towel or tissue. Coloured towels or printed paper towels may transfer dye or ink to the upholstery, so go with white tissues.
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