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As the seasons start to warm up, it's time to think about refreshing upholstered furniture.

 

There's nothing like new upholstery to freshen up your fave soft furnishing for spring. A few metres of fun and flirty fabric can certainly breathe new life into a timeworn treasure, but how long it remains looking crisp and clean is entirely up to you. Follow this three-prong strategy to keeping soft furnishings looking fab year-round.

Preventative measures

  • If you are looking to buy new upholstered furniture, think about having it protected. Many furniture suppliers offer a ScotchGuard service for upholstered furniture, and whilst this doesn't stop stains, it goes a long way towards offering additional protection - as long as spills are attending to immediately.

  • Most of today's vacuum cleaners come with various attachments that can be used to vacuum soft furnishings on a weekly basis. By doing this you will not only prolong the life of your furniture, but you'll also stop dust from accumulating in your home. Having said that, the most effective vacuum cleaner for reducing dust in the home is one that uses water filtration rather than bags. This type of system traps the dust in the water filtration rather than re-circulating dust back into the home.

  • If a lounge suite has removable cushions, take these outside once a month for a good hand beating to remove dust that has built up in the fibres. If you can, rotate and flip cushions for even wear and longer life. For fixed cushions you can use the angle-tipped vacuum attachment to get into creases and folds.

  • One easy way to protect your upholstered furniture is the "No eating on the furniture" rule. If you can enforce this ban you'll avoid worry - and work - down the road. Take care of any spills or stains immediately by blotting with a paper towel. You'll find a detailed list of how to deal with stains on Home-Dzine.

  • Protect fabrics from the sun as much as possible. Fabrics should not be placed in direct sunlight because the UV light will cause the fibres to degenerate and colours to fade. Occasionally dyes can fade from impurities in the air as well, but protection from the sun is a good way to prevent premature loss of colour.

  • Cushions and pillows filled with down or similar cushioning material should be hand-fluffed and reversed regularly to retain their original softness and resiliency.

  • Whether your new upholstery has been fabric protected or not, you should follow the same basic guidelines in cleaning liquid spills or surface stains that cannot be brushed off.

First-aid for stains

  • The first rule of tending to a spill? Get to it quickly before it has time to set. Use a paper towel to blot up as much as you can as quickly as possible. Do not rub stains as this can smudge the spill into a larger stain - an effect that upholstery cleaning pros call "blossoming". Blot from the outside of the spill or stain towards the centre.

  • Before applying a cleaning solution of any kind, it's a good idea to test the colour fastness of the fabric on an inconspicuous patch of the furnishing. Apply the solution to a clean white cloth, and press against the test area firmly for 30 seconds. Examine the cloth for evidence of colour transfer.

  • Whether spot cleaning with a pH-balanced (neutral) detergent in a 1:20 water mixture or a commercial dry cleaning solution, where appropriate, finish by blotting with clean water.

  • Never overwet the fabric. Applying too much water or cleaning solution can spread the stain and saturate the padding underneath the upholstery, creating the perfect haven for mould, mildew and bacteria – all of which are far worse than a surface stain. Don't try to speed up the drying time with a hot-air dryer, either – heat merely sets the stain. Instead, merely blot the area dry.

The deep clean

  • If you own a wet and dry vacuum and cleaner you will be able to deep clean your upholstered furniture as and when required. If you don't , schedule an annual deep cleaning treatment to keep your soft furnishings in good condition.

  • When purchasing your upholstered furniture ask if the fabric is washable - if there are removable cushion covers. If you're unsure, give them a washing in cold water and hang dry them.

  • Some fabrics are dry clean only, so you'll have to arrange a regular professional dry cleaning. Have all the covers done at the same time just in case the colour fades during the dry cleaning process and to ensure any fading or colour variation after cleaning with be consistent across all matching fabrics.

  • When in doubt, or if removing the upholstery isn't an option, don't hesitate to consult a professional. Professional cleaning is also in order if there's been a large-volume spill. Underneath that surface discoloration, the stain penetrating the padding may be three to four times as large.

  • Never apply cleaning solutions to visible areas of your upholstery fabric without first testing on areas that are not visible. It is important to pretest for colour loss and fabric compatibility.

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