How to Clean Your Sofa and Soft Furnishings
When we’re all at home our sofas are in full time use, as we perch, slouch, recline and relax in their welcoming depths. Reimagined as forts and pirate ships, wildlife hides and trampolines, it’s no wonder that stains begin to appear, from grease marks to spills and unidentifiable smears, our sofas have never been more needed or more abused, so, here’s how to show our soft furnishings some love and keep them clean and fresh.
Before we begin, it’s worth confirming that size matters. If you have a large stain always work from the outside in. That way you won’t be spreading it further. The following tips can also work on scatter cushions, throws, curtains and bedlinen.
Grease is the word
Grab the baking soda from the cupboard. Combining it with a little water make a paste and spread it on the stain. This helps to soak up the oil. Leave the paste on for at least 10 minutes then vacuum it away, blotting what’s left with a little vodka. Drunk all the vodka? You can use a soft toothbrush with a plain bar of soap and gently scrub. Finally, blot it clean with a damp kitchen towel.
Food for thought
For most food stains, dribbles, drips and drops, soap and water are best. Ensure you use a clean cloth or soft sponge and warm water with a plain soap bar. Do remember to test a little patch that is unseen before you begin. If your stain is from dairy, use cold water. If you’re not sure what the stain is (and we’ve all been there) always use cold water. If after gentle application and sponging the stain isn’t moving, use a small amount of bio detergent and let it sit for 30 minutes, before blotting with kitchen paper.
We’ve all done it and we never notice until the chocolate crumbs have melted into our cushions and sofa covers: the tell-tale smear that works its way into every fold and crevice… Happily, chocolate is actually better treated when it is completely dry, not fresh. Simply leave the annoying trace of your luxuriant night in until it is hard, then use a knife to carefully scrape it away from the fabric. If your fabric is fluffy, use your fingernails to carefully pick it out. Then use cold water (hot will just get you back to where you started) with a little detergent, dab on and leave for 5 minutes, then rinse with cold water and blot with kitchen towel.
Soak up as much as you can with some kitchen towel, as quickly as you can. While the spill is still damp soak and blot with plenty of cold water. Now, mix up equal parts of powder laundry detergent, water and white vinegar to make a thick paste. Apply to the stain and work in gently with a clean cloth. If the fabric is fluffy don’t rub too hard or you will damage it. If it proves stubborn you can get specialised stain-sticks to help remove the stain.
For wine and fruit juice stains use a little sparkling water and kitchen towel to blot. If all your sparkling water has gone into the spritzers, mix a tablespoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of laundry detergent in half a pint of cold water. Dab away with a clean cloth, then blot with kitchen towel.
Beer stains react well to being rubbed with an ice cube and then a mixture of a teaspoon of liquid detergent and warm water. Blot at the stain with a paper towel.
Polish can be very tricky to remove, particularly once it has dried, so act fast, or read fast in this case and check the material label if you can… If the fabric contains acetate, triacetate or modacrylic, acetone-based nail polish removers will react with them and even cause fibres to melt. If you have acetone-free remover great, but still test on a small area away from sight.
First of all, blot up the excess polish, don’t be tempted to rub, as this just pushes it further into the fibres of the fabric. Now, soak a clean cloth in your nail polish remover (if you can, see above) and dab the stain until it begins to lift off, working from the outside in. Once the colour stops transferring, use a little water to rinse. This may well be a cleaning professional to get a better result.
Again, tricky, whatever you do don’t rub, specialist fabric stain sticks are very handy here and blotting.
Accidents happen, if your beloved (or your pet) has been caught short, working a quickly as you can, rinse with a mix of half water and half white vinegar then blot for your life with a clean cloth or kitchen towel. Sprinkling baking soda over the damp stain can also help reduce any odour. Vacuum away the powder once it has dried.
Shaggy dog story
Pet hair is easily removed by donning rubber washing up gloves and working in a circular stroking motion, the hair will lift out of the fabric. Wash or dry-clean loose covers regularly, also remembering to turn and plump your seating cushions every few days. This will all extend their life and your enjoyment of one of the most used pieces of furniture in our homes.
And lastly, leather
Leather sofas enjoy a good regular dust and wipe over with a soft, damp cloth. Using a specialist leather cream or saddle soap will prevent stains building up and the leather drying out. It is also worth keeping them away from radiators and direct heat, to ensure a long and lustrous life.