Inspiration and Ideas From Our In-House Experts & Customers

10 Steps to Clean Your Upholstered Furniture

Remember that wonderful feeling when you’ve just purchased your brand new furniture, and it sits pristine and beautiful in your home? It’s exactly what you wanted, and it looks even better than you had hoped. That new couch, those lovely dining room chairs, that fluffy ottoman.

Unfortunately, though, people actually use this furniture you’ve so carefully selected, and it seems that in no time there are slight stains, faded color, pet hair, and other imperfections that mar the appearance of your once perfect room.

This can be especially challenging with upholstered furniture, that fixed fabric that says “clean me!” with no easy way to accomplish the goal. With slipcovers, it’s as simple as throwing it in the wash. With leather, often as easy as wiping it down. But the upholstered stuff can be tricky.

If your teenagers or grandbabies or beloved bichon frise are leaving your beautiful couch a complete mess, here are some easy tips for getting that once pristine piece looking brand new again.

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How to Care For Your Leather Furniture

There aren’t many things as warm and cozy as high quality leather furniture. And while it’s prized for being durable, leather furniture requires upkeep if you want to prolong the life of your piece.

However, even though leather is durable, it’s also absorbent in nature, so cleaning is not as easy as wiping down with a wet cloth. Couches and chairs are used day in and day out, with hardly a thought to the grime that builds up on them. Over time, dirt settles into leather furniture and causes it to lose it's distinctive scent.

If you don’t clean your leather correctly, the leather could be stripped of its natural oils and left cracked and dry.

Let’s take a look at 5 steps to caring for your leather furniture. Then we’ll give some stain-specific cleaning hacks and general must-know leather care tips.

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5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Upholstered Furniture

I was visiting our production manager's home the other day where I found him restoring an antique chair. It wasn't a big job--nothing that couldn't be take care of with some wood stain and fabric. This got me to thinking about just how long a piece of modern furniture will last.

A well constructed piece of upholstered furniture will last decades. If you think about all the materials that go into the construction of a chair or sofa there is not a lot that will degrade quickly. Wood frames, steel springs and foam cushions will last longer than most people. Relatively speaking, the fabric is the only part that has potential to wear out quickly. No mater how heavy the material, upholstery fabric is subjected to a lot. I'm not talking about stains and spills, but the constant friction generated when a person sits. Being a woven material, it is bound to eventually fray and break down.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Fabric fashions come and go just like clothing. So if you take steps to care for your upholstery, you'll be able to make it last until you tire of it and are ready to have it replaced or reupholstered. Here are five ways to prolong the life of your furniture:

  1. Vacuuming - Most people vacuum their floors, but rarely do their upholstery. It's a good idea to vacuum your fabric covered furniture once per week. This removes surface dust and dirt before it becomes embedded in the fibers. It also decreases wear from the "sandpaper effect" which occurs from friction between the body, dust and the fabric.

  2. Turning Cushions - If your sofa, love seat or chair has loose cushions, flip them on a regular basis. This will allow the fabric to wear evenly and keep the piece looking newer for a longer period of time.

  3. Avoid the Sun - The UV rays of the sun are just as damaging to fabrics and finishes as they are to skin. Keep upholstery out of direct sunlight when possible. If you can't keep it out of the sun be sure to use blinds, shades, curtains or have the windows treated to block UV radiation.

  4. Use All of Your Furniture - I'm sure that in almost every room there is one piece of furniture that gets used the most. You have a living room that may be filled with many different types of furniture and the only piece that ever gets any use is the sofa. Make a habit of sitting in the less frequently used furnishings. The same goes for the dining room. If you always sit in the same couple of chairs rotate the chairs around occasionally. You can still keep the same spot--just use a different chair.

  5. Consider Fabric Protection - Fabric protection can be a life saver, but don't rely upon it solely. It will help block absorption and ease the removal of stains, but it's not an invincible plastic cover. You may especially want consider fabric protection on light colored natural fabrics, but it is probably unnecessary for dark fabrics made from synthetic materials. Ultrasuedes and microfibers are particularly stain resistant and may not need any additional protection.

Following these guidelines will help you get the most from your upholstery. As I said before, fabric will eventually wear out. It is inevitable fact of nature, but how much life you get from it is up to you.

One last thing I'd like to mention--before you clean any stains or dirt from fabric be sure to look up the cleaning code. Every fabric on our site has a cleaning code and it explains the best treatment to use. Some fabrics can be cleaned with soap and water, others need solvent based cleaners while a few can only be professional cleaned. If you use the wrong cleaner serious damage could occur such as fading. As always, if you ever have any questions about cleaning upholstery from Carrington Court feel free to call one of our design consultants (828.396.1049) and they'll be more than happy to assist you.

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Faux Leather A Good Choice if Price and Cleanability A Concern

Nothing beats the soft, supple feel of genuine aniline leather. That's why Carrrington Court offers over a dozen leather colors. However, there are many circumstances where leather may not be the best choice for dining chairs. In those instances we recommend looking at faux leathers. These fabrics have come a long way in recent years, offering simulated grains and textures that mimic the real thing. Some advantages of faux leathers are:

  1. Cost - High quality leathers are expensive and can increase the price of a dining room chair exponentially.

  2. Maintainability - Leather is easy to clean under most circumstances, but faux leather is made of urethane and polyester and is easy to clean with simple water-based cleaning solutions. In many cases a spill will wipe right off with a damp rag.

If you're torn between the real deal and the man-made alternative, you'll probably want to consider the following:

  1. Do you tend to redecorate often or are you planning to move? If you're not sure you'll stick with your dining chairs for very long, faux leather may be the way to go. You'll save hundreds of dollars and won't feel guilty in a couple of years when you decide to take your room in a different direction.

  2. Do you have young children? It'll probably be much easier to clean up a spilled juice box or a PB&J accident with the faux than with leather.

  3. Do you have pets (especially cats)? While faux leather will not fair any better to cat claws than the genuine article, at least you won't be out hundreds of dollars and you may be able to repair the damage more easily and at a lower cost.

As I already mentioned, faux leather dining chairs offer a very reasonable facsimile. You still miss out on the feel and the patina that leather offers as it ages. At the end of the day, the good news is that you have choice!

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