Furniture Tips: Cleaning Up the Mess

In our last article we talked about some quick fixes for wood furniture. Here are a few tips for cleaning up your fabric furniture.

Blood, dried

Let’s start with a Big Nasty, both for what causes it and what a mess it is to clean up. Take a mild detergent (something non-bleaching and non-alkaline, I like Dawn) and combine one teaspoon with one cup of ice water.  Dampen the stained area with this mixture. Blot the mixture up.  You should begin to see some of the stain coming up.
Next, take one tablespoon of ammonia and combine this with half a cup of ice water.  Again, dampen the stained area with this mixture. Blot the mixture up.  You should see more of the stain coming up. Last, use plain, clean ice water and sponge the area lightly.
Blot at the dampened area again.  Hopefully your stain has been removed.
Alternate:
Try a small amount of peroxide on the stain. You should exercise extreme caution with peroxide, however, because while the peroxide will remove the blood, it can also bleach your material.

Blood, fresh
Wet a sponge with either club soda or plain, cold water and immediately sponge at the area.  Go from the outside of the stain to the inside.  Dry with a clean towel or blot with very absorbent paper towels.  You may need to repeat this a few times to get it all out.

Butter, Cheese, Food-based Grease, Margarine
Note: Water can cause this stain to set and become nearly permanent.  Try other methods of cleaning before applying water.
Put some dry-cleaning solvent on a sponge and blot at the stain. Next, take one teaspoon of a mild detergent and mix it with a cup of barely warm water.  Dampen the stained area with this mixture. Blot the mixture up.  You should see most of the stain coming up.  Repeat if necessary. Last, when you’re satisfied that the stain is gone, use a clean sponge and water to dampen the area and remove all the remaining detergent.  Blot dry.

Candlewax, Crayons
Note: Water can cause this stain to spread further, particularly if the wax is still warm.
The biggest problems with wax are that it resists any type of water based cleaner and it rarely sits on the surface, going deep into the rug or fabric.  Since so many candles also include dye, using heat might cause the wax to spread further and for the dye to actually set in the material. First, using a butter knife (or other dull metal or hard plastic), carefully scrape as much of the solid mass as you can. Next, put ice in a plastic bag and place on top of the stained area.  You should leave this here for at least five minutes.  This will make the remaining wax brittle so that you can continue to scrape at it with your butter knife. Hopefully you can remove most of the wax this way. Now you can attempt to remove the last remnants of wax by warming it with a hair dryer and continue scraping the wax off with the butter knife.

Candy, Chocolate, Coffee, Colas, Fruit, Gravy, Juice, Milk, Salsa, Tomato Juice, Wine
First, take one teaspoon of a mild detergent and mix it with a cup of barely warm water.  Dampen the stained area with this mixture. Blot the mixture up.  You should see some of the stain coming up.
Next, take a third of a cup of white vinegar and mix it with 2/3 of a cup of water.  Dampen the stained area with this mixture and blot it up. Repeat the first mixture, again blotting the area.  When you’re satisfied that the stain is gone, clean thoroughly with plain water, making sure to remove all of the detergent.  Blot the area dry.

Of course, this doesn’t scratch the surface (if you’ll pardon the pun) of all the things I’ve spilled on my furniture. It is worth saying that none of these methods work as well as hiring a professional cleaner…but they’re easy to do. We’ll tackle a few more next time.

If you have questions about any of these articles, or suggestions for future columns, you can always drop me a line at ken@olyfurnitureworks.com.