How to Clean and Disinfect Used Furniture

  • 01 of 05

    How to Clean and Disinfect Used Furniture

    Man and Woman at Open Air Sale
    Helen King / Getty Images

    Hunting for used furniture at garage sales, thrift stores and even on the side of the road can be fun, but before you bring an item home, give it a thorough cleaning. When getting used furniture and other home items, even from relatives or friends, you want to make sure you don't:

    • bring any germs or bacteria into your home
    • bring in something that smells
    • bring any unwelcome pests into your home
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Spray Furniture for Bugs

    Spray used furniture with bug spray before bringing item inside your home. Photo © Jami Delia

    Bugs and other unwanted pests like to burrow in old furniture that sits unattended. There is also the possibility of an item being infested with bed bugs.

    When getting used furniture, you sometimes don't know where the item came from or what's hiding in the cracks. That is why I take used furniture directly out to my patio (if you have a garage or work shed that's even better!).

    If the item has drawers, cabinets or any other compartments, make sure to either take them out or open them. Using a flashlight, take a good look at your item. Keep an eye out for any bug droppings or bugs themselves.

    • If you do find any dropping or bugs, spray your item with an all-purpose bug spray and leave it out in a well-ventilated area for at least 24 hours.
    • If you don't find any droppings or bugs, still spray your item. You not only want to make sure there are no bed bugs hiding, but also fleas, ticks or mites.

    If you have pets, use a pet-safe flea, tick, and insect spray. You can typically find this type of spray at a local pet store or the pet department at a large discount chain. You can also make your own homemade flea spray out of vinegar. If you're concerned about bed bugs, there are a variety of bed bug sprays you can purchase.

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  • 03 of 05

    Disinfect Your Furniture

    Wipe down used furniture with a rag dipped in disinfectant cleaner to remove any germs, grease or grime. Photo © Jami Delia

    After spraying the item with bug spray, make sure to wipe it down with a good disinfectant. You can use a variety of disinfectant cleaners or create your own, such as a solution of vinegar and water. For items with unidentified stains, odors, or any kind of sticky residue, try using an extra strength disinfectant cleanser.

    You can use

    • disinfectant wipes
    • disinfectant aerosol spray
    • disinfectant spray wiped down with a rag

    Use products that are safe for the type of furniture. For example, if your item is a silk upholstered chair, you may not want to douse it with disinfectant spray.

    For more information on properly cleaning and caring for certain kinds of furniture, refer to:

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  • 04 of 05

    Remove Odors From Used Furniture

    Spray used furniture with a solution of vinegar and water to remove odors. Photo © Jami Delia

    If any odors remain after disinfecting your item, don't grab the air freshener or fabric deodorizer. Although these items may help temporarily, they won't necessarily kill any bacteria that may be causing the smell. Since some mildew and musty odors are caused by moisture trapped in the item, the following natural and inexpensive solutions can help remove mildew and excess moisture:

    • Solution of water and vinegar - Not only is this solution safe for most furniture, it's also inexpensive (or free if you already have vinegar). Spray your item and let air dry for a few hours. Don't let the vinegar smell worry you. Once the solution dries, the smell will go away.
    • Baking soda - If your item has any cushions or fabric, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the area. Let the baking soda sit for a couple of hours and then vacuum it up.
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  • 05 of 05

    Remove Stains From Used Furniture

    Use rubbing alcohol and cotton balls to remove ink stains from furniture. Photo © Jami Delia

    Removing stains from furniture can be difficult. However, with a bit of elbow grease and some familiar household items, you can remove the following:

    • Crayon - If your item has any crayon stains on it, you can take a rag and rub a bit of WD40 into the area to remove the stain.
    • Ink - For ink stains, try using rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and gently rub on the area. This works well for certain types of leather furniture as well.
    • Rust - A solution of lemon juice and salt, mild dish soap, and ammonia or a store-bought rust removal product can help you remove rust stains from furniture.