Maintenance tips for fine furnishings
So you’ve finally furnished your dream apartment. The floors are pristine, all surfaces are sparkling, and the perfectly arranged furniture would make Elle Décor jealous. It’s a beautiful feeling – however, despite the wishful thinking, it doesn’t last. Many people have little to no idea how to optimally clean the variety of fabrics and surfaces that adorn their home. Simply Spotless is here to help, giving you the rundown on tips and techniques to keep your shiny new apartment as shiny as possible, while avoiding some very common mistakes!
Tip 1: Proper tools are imperative
One thing you should make sure you have ready to go in your home is a cleaning kit. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – for tools, the basics will do. Here are the staples every home should be prepared with:
Tools of the trade
- Clean, soft, white cloths for dusting – it is imperative that they are clean. Don’t just spread dust around!
- White paper towels – you always need more of these than you think, so stay stocked.
- Lambs wool duster with extension rod – far superior to a feather duster.
- Good vacuum cleaner with flexible hose and without a beater bar—they’re not necessary, and they can hurt your carpet!
Tip 2: Familiarize yourself with the capabilities of products
Now that you have your basic cleaning tools, it’s time to familiarize yourselves with the products. A little research may be necessary here.
How to Use Products
Delicate finishes and fabrics can be easily irritated by harsh cleaning products. Therefore, you should always test cleaners in an inconspicuous spot before using. If you notice any damage or discoloration, do NOT continue use or you run the risk of ruining your furniture, carpet, or surface.
In general, it's best to select products that are made from naturally derived ingredients, such as baking soda, coconut oil, and salt. Remember, “less is more” when using cleaning products—you don’t need to over-use for optimal results, plus it’s more cost effective! NEVER spray products directly onto surfaces. Spray products onto your handy cleaning cloths to avoid over-saturation.
Tip 3: Understand Your Furnishings
It may seem self-explanatory, but all surfaces and finishes have different characteristics, and will respond differently to different products and tools. Could you imagine a museum using a vacuum to dust off rare and expensive Picassos? Of course not. In this section, we’ll talk you through optimal tools and products to use for the variety of different items in your home. Remember to always test in an inconspicuous spot first with any new product!
Different finishes require different care
Wood Stain Finishes
For anything wood-stained, you should use a clean, soft, dry cloth for general dusting. Gently wipe the surface, turning it often, to pick up dust, and remember to always wipe furniture in the direction of the wood grain. Have a surprise spill? Spilled liquids should be wiped from the surface immediately with a soft, damp cloth to avoid stains.
Furniture with a lacquer finish should be dusted regularly with a soft, dry cloth. NEVER use oiled or treated cloths on lacquered finishes. To remove more stubborn fingerprints and smudges, finishes can be wiped with a damp (not wet) cloth, followed immediately with light rubbing from a dry cloth. You can always protect with a liquid wax or polish to maintain a gloss – but never a glass cleaner! This will make it look cloudy.
Painted finish furniture requires regular dusting with a clean, dry cloth. Wipe the surface lightly, taking care not to remove the finish. Take note that painted dry finishes do not have any sealant, leaving the wood open to absorb any spillage – so clean any spills right away. This also means these surfaces can crack and chip easily, so whenever possible, lift objects from the top surface rather than dragging them across the surface of the finish when moving them.
Tile and Stone Finishes
Regularly dust all tile and stone finishes with a soft, dry cloth. When selecting a product, check the list of chemicals to be sure your product doesn’t contain solvents or acetone - these will strip the finish and leave your floor looking lackluster. Dust gently, so as not to rub the finish off when trying to remove smudges. Also, NEVER use a metal brush – these are too harsh, and will scratch the stone finish. Not fun.
Upholstered furniture should be vacuumed on a regular basis, as dirt and dust on upholstered furniture acts as an abrasive and can accelerate the wearing of the fabric. A small handheld vacuum will do, or the flexible hose on your regular vacuum works fine. Pillows and cushions should be routinely flipped over and “fluffed” back to their original shapes – this will help to extend their useful lives! To prevent fading, never expose upholstery fabric, especially silk, to direct sunlight for any lengthy period of time. Also, do not leave newspapers or other printed material lying on upholstery in order to prevent possible “bleeding” of ink into the fabric. Remember that denim can also bleed into upholstery fabric so take care not to sit directly on furnishings with new denim that hasn’t yet been washed – denim stains can be a pain to remove.
For normal use, dust and vacuum weekly and avoid direct sunlight! Leather furniture is best not placed near windows or under skylights, as it is prone to fading under these conditions. Also look out for direct exposure to heating vents, as these may cause damage by drying out the leather. Frequent dusting is the only way to clean most leathers with limited surface protection. Be careful — uncoated leathers readily absorb liquids and oily substances, so a clean cloth is best! Avoid over-saturating the leather with lotion or water, and never leave either lotion or water on the leather surface for a long amount of time.
Prevention is always best with leather, as stubborn stains may be impossible to remove. In the case of a spill, immediately wipe down the surface using a continuous sweeping motion in the same direction. Due to its sensitivity, leather creases may create blotches called pressure marks. Leather is tricky, but makes a great addition to your home – so treat it with care!
Window treatments should be vacuumed on a regular basis to maintain their original shape and to avoid discoloration for dust and dirt. To prevent fading, consider supplementing with a protective film to windows, or simply shop around for attractive shades!
As always, spills should be cleaned up immediately and any stains should be treated with a spot remover to prevent permanent discoloration. Carpets should be vacuumed regularly with a vacuum without a beater bar. Also, your mother was right, always remove shoes when walking on carpets – shoes track in all kinds of dust and dirt, which is abrasive and messy!
Tip 4. Know when to call in an expert
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ll find yourself out of your league. Or, your home cleaning method will be effective, but with some unwanted side effects. Fortunately, if you generally take good care of your surfaces and finishes thoroughly and often, and pros can always come in and treat nearly any stubborn stain or damaged surface. A common example is spot cleaning a particularly challenging stain yourself may cause a ring around the stain, or fading here and there. In this case, it’s best to have the entire piece of furniture or cushion cleaned by a professional cleaning service to ensure uniform color. You may also consider a yearly contract with a top quality service provider. In many cases, it can be worth it to feel proud of your clean, comfortable living space.
There you have it! Hopefully with these basic guidelines you can be on your way to forming a regular and efficient cleaning routine for your home. Consistency is key, and when you are able maintaining these habits, your home will always look spic and span!