You invested your time and money into getting the perfect designer furniture. Invest that same thought into caring for your new furniture to keep it looking great for years. Forget all of the expensive specialty cleaners and products. Furniture is actually very easy to care for with simple supplies. However, some furniture cleaning products can damage or dull your pieces. From wooden, French-inspired bedroom furniture to your perfectly comfortable leather sofas, follow simple cleaning tips to enjoy your favorite pieces for years.
The location of your furniture impacts the longevity of the piece. All furniture should go in a spot that minimizes damaging elements to extend the life of the piece. Exposure to extreme heat, sunlight or moisture puts furniture at risk for damage, especially if your high-end furniture is made of wood.
Follow these tips for placing your quality furniture pieces:
Avoid direct sunlight: The sun’s rays can damage wood furniture’s finish and upholstered furniture’s fabric. Direct sunlight can also fade any type of furniture. Because the sunlight will likely only hit part of the furniture, that fading will be uneven, making it even more noticeable. Position furniture pieces so the light doesn’t hit the pieces directly.
Use light control on your windows: If you absolutely can’t position your furniture out of direct sunlight, close the drapes when the sun is at its peak. Or better yet – install shutters, shades, or blinds to control the light, this protects your furniture from the harshest rays to minimize potential damage.
Place furniture away from heating and cooling vents: Extreme or constantly changing temperatures aren’t good for your high-end furniture. Heated air can dry out your items and cause cracking or other damage. An ideal temperature range is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, move the furniture away from any vents for your heating and cooling system, leaving at least two feet between the vent and the furniture. This also lets your HVAC system heat and cool efficiently by keeping the vents open and freely flowing.
Keep humidity in check: Extremely high or low humidity in your home can cause damage to furniture. Aim for humidity between 35 and 50 percent. Humidity outside that range means the furniture can expand and contract, which can lead to issues at the joints and cracking. Humidifiers or dehumidifiers can help control the humidity levels in your home.
Lift to move: If you feel like rearranging, lift each furniture piece instead of sliding it across the floor. This protects both your flooring and the furniture piece. Sliding furniture can put undue stress on the legs, weakening the structure.
Protecting Wood Furniture
Wood is strong and beautiful, but it is also susceptible to scratching, warping, splitting and staining if not properly maintained and handled. Anything you place on top of wood furniture has the potential to scratch the material, but you can take simple steps to minimize that damage and increase the life of your wood furniture.
Here are some tips for protecting wood furniture:
Place pads on decorative items: A felt pad on the bottom of vases, jars and other decorative items creates a soft barrier to prevent scratches. Self-adhesive felt pads are simple to install.
Lift items instead of sliding: Even if the bottom of items are padded, always lift items to move them to another spot. Small scratches are normal due to regular wear, but sliding things across wood furniture increases the risk of deep scratches.
Keep solvents and other chemicals away from furniture: Many chemicals damage furniture pieces. Keep cleaners, nail polish remover, perfume and similar items away from furniture. Avoid using sprays near the furniture as the droplets can travel to the furniture and cause spots of damage.
Watch for rubber, plastics and vinyl products: These materials may cause discoloration, softness or other damage to the finish when placed directly on wood furniture. Items like phones and appliances often have rubber feet that can cause problems. Put a pad between the item and the furniture to help protect the piece.
Never write directly over wood: If you need to jot down a few notes, place a pad between your paper and the table. The imprint of your writing can show up in the wood if you place the paper directly on it.
Wipe up spills immediately: Wood can handle a little dampness during cleaning, but large amounts of moisture damage the finish very quickly. Always wipe up a spill immediately to avoid the white spots that occur with prolonged moisture exposure. Blot the spilled liquid instead of wiping to keep the mess contained.
Don’t place damp objects on wood: Just like a spill can damage wood finishes, damp items can also leave marks or remove the finish. This includes cleaning sponges, damp clothes, and other damp or wet objects.
Use coasters every time: Heat from a cup of coffee or condensation from a cold drink can cause damage to your wood surfaces. Always use a coaster under any cup or mug to provide a barrier from the heat and moisture. If you have a wood dining table, cloth placemats under your dinner plates provide a layer of insulation between a hot plate and the wood tabletop.
Use hot pads: Additionally, any hot bowls or serving containers placed on a dining room table should have a pad placed beneath them to keep the heat from damaging the finish.
Use a table pad: If you don’t like the look of hot pads or placemats, you can purchase a custom-sized table pad to protect your table from heat and moisture. Decorative table cloths look great over a table pad.
Store leaves with the table: If your dining room table has leaves to expand the size, store the leaves within the table. If this is not possible, keep the leaves flat to prevent warping and store them in the same environment as the table to prevent differences in the wood.
Cleaning Wood Furniture
Wood furniture is relatively easy to maintain. Dusting is a key task to keep your custom or high-end furniture clean and damage free. Dust and debris left on the surface doesn’t just make the table look dirty. It can damage the finish with scratching, and any built-up debris can be difficult to remove. Use a soft, clean, lint-free cloth to wipe dust from wood furniture. Avoid using paper towels, as the fibers can scratch the wood surface. Wipe with the wood grain to help prevent scratching.
If your wood furniture needs a little more help, dampen the cloth slightly. It should not be soaked or dripping, as that much water will damage the wood’s finish. Moisten the cloth, and wring it out completely before wiping the wood furniture.
When water isn’t enough, use a mild detergent. This can help remove greasy spots or other stubborn areas on your wood. Wipe away all of the detergent when you finish cleaning. Never use abrasive cleaners or bleach, ammonia or solvents on your wood furniture.
Waxes and polishes often leave a cloudy look on wood finishes. They are not necessary, so skip those steps to keep your high-end wood furniture looking its best. Oils and other products that claim to “feed” the wood are also not necessary.
A non-silicone, non-wax furniture polish with a water base is typically safe for your wood furniture when used no more than three to four times per year. This can bring out the coloring and grain variation in the wood, which enhances the beauty of the piece. If you want to polish your furniture, check with the manufacturer’s recommendations to choose a specific product that is safe for your furniture pieces. Always follow the directions on the polish bottle, ensuring you don’t apply too much. We recommend Guardsman Wood Cleaner and Guardsman Furniture Polish if you wish to purchase these products.
Protecting Upholstered Furniture
Moving into the living room, your upholstered furniture needs just as much care and attention as your wood pieces. Preventing spills, stains and snags helps your high-end sofa and chairs stay pristine.
Try these tips for keeping upholstered furniture free of damage:
Fluff cushions frequently: If your high-end sofas and chairs have removable cushions, give them a fluff each day or as frequently as possible. This prevents the fill material from compressing and causing permanent creases or compression. If the cushions are attached, you can still fluff them to loosen the stuffing.
Rotate cushions weekly: Rotating cushions is another way to prevent uneven wear and compression, especially if you tend to sit in a particular spot. Flip and rotate cushions on a weekly basis if possible.
Keep sharp objects away from upholstered furniture: Everything from sharp toys to belt buckles can snag, puncture or tear your upholstery, whether fabric or leather. Keep those items away from your furniture to prevent damage. If you have young children, designate a play area away from the furniture to keep toys away.
Keep chemicals and items that can potentially cause stains away from the upholstered furniture: This includes things like ink pens, markers, nail polish and dark liquids. The newsprint from a newspaper can easily transfer to furniture as well, especially leather, so keep papers off your sofas and chairs.
Cut loose strings or snags: Pulling on a loose string can unravel a much larger section of your upholstered furniture. When you spot a loose piece, snip it cleanly with scissors. Tuck any remaining ends in so they don’t get pulled more.
Smooth out creases: After repeated use, furniture can sometimes start developing creases. Smooth out those sections to prevent long-term damage.
Sit on the furniture properly: Sitting on a chair or sofa arm puts stress on areas not meant to hold weight. Sitting on the front edge of furniture can also distort the piece. Sit back fully to distribute weight properly to prevent damage.
Blot liquid spilled on upholstered furniture: Don’t rub spills. Blotting lifts the liquid without spreading it to the surrounding upholstery. Place a clean cloth on top of the stain, allowing the cloth to draw the moisture out of the fabric. Cleaning spills immediately minimizes staining.
Cleaning Fabric Upholstered Furniture
Regular cleaning keeps your furniture looking like new and ensures it lasts longer to maximize your investment. Always follow the furniture manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your furniture. Specific fabric requires different care or may respond differently to certain types of cleaners. Following those established guidelines minimizes the potential for damage and extends the life of your furniture.
Also be sure to clean an entire piece at once. If you have multiple pieces in the same set, clean them all together. Over time, color changes may occur due to cleaning. Spot cleaning or only cleaning one piece can cause uneven color changes.
Vacuuming is an easy and effective way to clean your upholstered furniture. Use these tips as a guide:
Vacuum at least once per week: A weekly vacuuming schedule prevents dirt from building up and getting ground into the upholstery. This leaves your couch looking new and fresh while preventing unnecessary wear that can happen when the dirt gets in the fibers of the fabric.
Check for loose strings and buttons before you vacuum: Your vacuum could pull on any loose pieces and cause more damage. Repair the damage or avoid those areas while vacuuming.
Remove any large items on or in the furniture: Those large pieces can clog or damage your vacuum cleaner. Reach down in the crevices to ensure debris isn’t lodged in those areas.
Designate a soft brush attachment for use only on your furniture: Any dirt, oil and other residue on a vacuum attachment can stain and damage your upholstery. Buy a separate soft brush attachment used for cleaning your furniture to prevent this damage.
Attach the crevice tool to the vacuum to clean nooks and crannies: The crevice attachment is particularly useful if your furniture has attached cushions. Push the attachment down into the crevices to reach any crumbs and debris in those hidden spots.
If you use upholstery cleaner on your furniture, always test it first in an inconspicuous spot to ensure it does not discolor or damage the fabric before applying all over. Only use products recommended by the furniture manufacturer for best results.
A professional cleaning of your upholstered furniture is a good way to get a deep clean while ensuring your furniture isn’t damaged. These deep cleanings produce high-quality results to match the high quality of your furniture.
Cleaning Leather Upholstered Furniture
Your leather couches and chairs also need regular cleaning to avoid discoloration and damage. Leather is a rugged material, but it can be ruined when not properly maintained.
Clean your leather using these tips:
Dust your leather furniture: Use a plain, clean cloth without any cleaners or chemicals on it. Dust wipes off of leather easily, so a quick dusting is an easy way to freshen up your leather furniture.
Clean regularly, especially where bare skin and hair touch the leather: The natural oils and sweat on your skin and hair can degrade the leather.
Vacuum your leather furniture weekly: Just like fabric upholstery, leather needs regular vacuuming to stay clean.
Use only approved products: Check with the leather manufacturer to use only recommended leather cleaning and conditioning products. The type of leather can affect the types of cleaning products that are safe for use. We recommend Gaurdsman Leather Cleaner.
Handling Damage to Your High-End Furniture
Despite your best efforts to clean and maintain your custom furnishings, some wear is inevitable. Larger scratches or damage can also occur even when you are careful. Before trying to fix the damage yourself, do an assessment of the situation. Many repairs are better handled by a professional to ensure consistency in the finish.
Buy a Furniture Protection Plan
When all else fails, it’s great to have the back-up of a furniture protection plan. These plans usually cover all accidental damage to your furniture for five years. In most cases, if you have to use the plan even one time you’ve covered the cost of the plan!
Update Your Furniture
Does your furniture need a high-end makeover? Visit Davids Furniture and Interiors online for a selection of living room, dining room, office and bedroom furniture to fit your high-end style. Visit one of our showrooms in Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg or Mohnton to see the quality of our furniture selection in person.