Upholstered furniture such as sofas, armchairs and upholstered dining chairs can take quite a beating, especially if you have children and pets. After carpets and rugs, they’re probably the décor items most prone to dirt and stains.
Giving your upholstery a proper clean every now and then is recommended. But make sure you don’t end up damaging your furniture by accidentally making these common upholstery cleaning mistakes.
1. Scrubbing stains
Scrubbing at stains can drive the dirt further into the fabric fibres. If the stain is fresh, start by blotting it to draw the dirt out. This will also help keep it from soaking through to the foam underneath.
If the stain is older, you may have to use an upholstery spot cleaner or a steam cleaner. Excessive scrubbing can also damage the fabric fibres, creating a weak spot.
2. Soaking upholstery with water
Even plain water will leave watermarks on your upholstery if it gets too wet.
Soaking an area to remove a mark or dilute a stain is not recommended. Even once dry, there will be a permanent mark in the area that got wet.
If you need to clean large areas of an upholstered furniture item, use minimal water or rather use a steam cleaner.
3. Using the wrong cleaning products
Any cleaning product that is bleach-based or contains ammonia should not be used on upholstery.
At best, it will cause discolouration and at worst it could damage the fibres and even cause holes or splitting.
Always check what type of fabric your furniture is upholstered with and use the appropriate cleaner. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer (or leave cleaning your upholstery to professionals).
4. Using the wrong cleaning tools
Try to use soft microfibre cloths that won’t shed lint when blotting or spot cleaning.
While brushing off loose dirt is a good idea, hard bristle brushes can cause a lot of damage if used on more delicate fabrics. Use soft brushes where necessary and don’t overbrush.
For some fabrics, such as suede, you can get specialised brushes for cleaning.
5. Using fabric protectors incorrectly
Fabric protectors can prevent future stains and extend the life of your upholstered furniture by protecting the fabric from wear and tear.
Some of these fabric protectors can be applied at home but incorrect application, or using the wrong type of fabric protector, will have the opposite effect. If in doubt, rather have a fabric protector applied professionally.
6. Using too much heat
Certain fabrics, such as silk or blends that include silk, won’t handle extreme heat.
Steam is great for cleaning and disinfecting, but will cause damage to these types of fabrics. If you’re not sure if your sofa or upholstered furniture will handle steam cleaning, consult the manufacturer to find out the best cleaning method.
Professional upholstery cleaning
Professional cleaners tend to achieve better results than you can get on your own. They also know how best to avoid damaging sensitive upholstery fabrics.