Interior Decorating Information

Upholstery Upkeep

Upholstered armchairs and sofas are comfortable and attractive additions to any home. When neglected, however, upholstery can quickly turn into next year's yard sale's featured item. Help the upholstered furniture in your dining room, living room, family room and bedroom last for years and years, by getting to know the ABC's of upholstery preventative and corrective care.

Stop Damage Before it Occurs


Allow common sense to dictate what you should keep from harming your upholstered furniture. Sunlight will fade upholstery, so keep your upholstered couches, armchairs and ottomans away from the window, or else well-shaded. Put your newspaper on a coffee table or side table, to avoid ink damage to your upholstered furniture.

Other items that can cause permanent damage include dark-colored sheets and blankets, for when damp or wet, the dark dyes on these fabrics can rub off and ruin your upholstery. Finally, paints and polishes, such as nail or shoe polish, should never be used on upholstery. Make sure to cover your upholstered furniture when painting your living room, dining room, or bedrooms!

Keep it Clean!

1: Vacuum, 2: Damp-Dust, 3: Professionally Clean

Cleaning upholstered furniture is easy as 1, 2, 3. First, Vacuum as often as possible. Second, damp-dust arms and headrest areas with cleaning solution recommended by the manufacturer. Third, indulge occasionally in professional cleaning for maximum dirt and dust particle removal.

Here's a tip for keeping your favorite chairs & couches clean: Don't be fooled by the zippers on those cushions: the cushion covers are NOT meant to be removed and washed separately! Before you vacuum, remove the cushions. Beat them, rotate them, then vacuum them.

911 Emergency Care

Blot, scrape, vacuum. Read label, match spill with remedy.

Spills happen. The key to avoiding a permanent stain is to react in the manner most appropriate to the type of spill. For liquid spills, don't rub the spot, BLOT. Use a fresh, clean paper towel. For food or solid spills, first lift as much of the spill as possible with a dull knife or a spoon, scraping gently towards the center. For powder or cigarette ash spills, don't add a liquid or rub. Instead, vacuum up the spill.

When remnants of the spill still remain, use a fabric cleaner. Here are some guidelines:

Check manufacturer's label for cleaning instructions and recommendations. Codes on the labels are as follows:

W=water based cleaning agent;

S=water-free solvent;

WS=water based or water-free agent okay;

X=clean only by vacuuming or light brushing.

Test water or cleaning agent in a hidden area of the upholstered furniture before applying to the stain.

Be patient when applying cleaning agent. Go slowly to avoid causing a ring or spreading the stain. You may need to use several doses, blotting each time with a clean paper towel. Only blot, never rub.

Use a fan or cool blow dryer to speed up drying process, working from outer edge of spill to inner. If velvet, use a brush on fabric before it dries. If a stain remains, call a professional cleaner.

A-Z Home Stain Removal Chart:

Look it up. And remember, don't rub, BLOT!

Dry Cleaning Solvent (Energine®, Carbona®, K2r®): Protein/Enzyme Laundry Detergent (Era®) - Dilute with 30 parts water: Distilled White Wine Vinegar - Dilute with 9 parts rubbing alcohol

Ashes/Soot Alcoholic Drinks Alcoholic Drinks
Butter/Margarine Ashes/Soot Candy
Cake/Frosting/Margarine Blood Felt-Tip Marker
Candle Wax/Margarine Cake/Frosting Fruit Juice
Chewing Gum Candy Ink
Chocolate Ketchup Jam/Jelly
Coffee Chocolate Lipstick
Cosmetics Coffee Shoe Polish
Crayon Cosmetics Wine/Kool-Aide
Dairy Products Dairy Products
Gravy Egg
Grease Feces
Ink Fruit Juice
Lipstick Gravy
Mayonnaise Ice Cream
Milk/Formula Jam/Jelly
Oil Mayonnaise
Salad Dressing Milk/Formula
Shoe Polish Mud
Tar Mustard
Vegetable Salad Dressing:
Soft Drinks

Protect, clean and care for your upholstered sofas, chairs and loveseats using these tips and guidelines. With a little attention, the upholstery in your living room, dining room, family room and bedrooms will look fantastic for a long, long time.

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When Yale graduate, BatSheva Vaknin is not writing helpful and insightful articles like the one you just read from, she writes plays, screenplays and short stories. In fact, she has just completed her first novel.

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