Expert Tips on Cleaning Every Type of Furniture

Man cleaning leather furniture

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Would you imagine that cleaning furniture might be one of the easiest housekeeping chores you'll face? If you've invested in expensive furniture or just picked up some pieces at a tag sale or estate sale, you'll want to do a few things to get and keep the pieces in good condition. Proper care and cleaning are important parts of preserving the pieces for years of beauty and use.

For years of beautiful furniture, keep any pieces out of sunlight and away from heat sources. These can dry out wood, paint finishes, leather, and rot upholstery fibers.

Have you ever made the shocking discovery of a stain on the back of a favorite chair or a watermark on the top of the desk in your guest room? You really can't blame anyone. But you can fix it. We'll help you find how to clean any piece of furniture and keep it looking like new.

Painted Furniture

  • Everyday care: Painted furniture is almost the easiest to keep clean. On a weekly basis, dust or wipe clean with a cloth dampened with water. Be sure not to leave water spots on the surface, as they'll dry and could leave permanent marks.
  • Special cleaning: If your piece of painted furniture has stains on visible surfaces or nicks and scratches on it, you'll want to make whatever repairs you can. Gently sand down any mars, taking care not to damage more painted finish than you have to. Carefully glue and clamp any loose joints.
    Match the paint as best you can or select a new color of paint and restore the piece to near-perfect condition. Add an oil finish for greatest protection.

Wood Furniture

  • Everyday care: Before you decide how to clean your piece of furniture, you need to determine what type of finish it has on it. You should find information about cleaners and conditioners for your wood furniture and information on getting built-up finishes off to expose the beautiful wood underneath. You should use a lint-free cloth to polish your furniture on a regular basis. Use just a little furniture polish on the cloth and rub the surface to get a beautiful shine. When choosing a furniture polish, use the same type for each cleaning, either oil- or wax-based, to avoid polish smudges. Wipe in the direction of the grain of the wood whenever possible.
    If you love antiques, you'll need to be aware of their special needs.
  • Special cleaning: When it comes time to remove built-up wax, use either mineral spirits or synthetic turpentine with a soft, lint-free cloth. Clean the entire piece with the product, not just the area that's soiled.

Leather Furniture

  • Everyday care: Because leather can dry out and crack, it is recommended that you keep your valuable leather furniture at least two feet from heat sources and out of direct sunlight. Clean the piece with a damp sponge or soft cloth and dust it regularly.
  • Special cleaning: For excessive soil, use a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1/2 cup water to clean with a soft cloth. Follow this by washing with leather saddle soap. Rub the furniture with a dry soft cloth.

Upholstered Furniture

  • Everyday care: Keep upholstered furniture out of direct sunlight as most fabrics will fade. Vacuum surfaces weekly. Flip cushions and pillows regularly so both sides wear evenly. For added safety, carefully apply Scotchguard to help repel spots and stains.
  • Special treatments: When it comes to cleaning, start out by wiping up any spills and spots as soon as you see them.

Wicker and Cane Furniture

  • Everyday care: The natural fibers of wicker, cane, and rush furniture tend to dry out, so it's important to keep these pieces out of the sun and away from heat sources. Dust regularly and vacuum often to get the dust out of the cracks in the finishes.
  • Special treatments: To restore the pliable nature and moisture to natural fiber seating, place the piece in a bathtub full of warm water or spray with a hose outside. This will help to retard the splitting of fibers and lengthen the life of your pieces.

If you take good care of your furniture, it will last for years and look great. Don't labor over it, but be consistent and careful when treating each type of furniture. You'll save lots of money and enjoy the furniture all through its life.