How to Care for Your Home’s Fabrics

When it comes to cleaning your fabric home decor items, each one has its own unique requirements. Your curtains offer distinct challenges compared to your sofa’s cushions. Different fabrics also require different cleaning methods and products, said Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home. “For example, cotton curtains will need to be washed with a mild detergent on a gentle cycle in cold water, while velvet draperies may need to be professionally dry cleaned,” she advised.

You’ll want to clean your fabric pieces every few months or so, especially when used regularly, such as items found in kitchens and bathrooms. Spot cleaning, of course, should occur as soon as staining happens since you don’t want discolorations to set in. It’s also important to blot the stain rather than scrubbing it, said Steven Zhang, co-founder of Tea Just. “This will help to prevent the stain from spreading or becoming more difficult to remove,” he said. “Additionally, you can try using a stain remover specifically designed for the type of stain you're dealing with — for example, red wine, grease, etc.

Here are some best practices for maintaining and cleaning your finest furniture, curtains and more.

how to clean your couch in the living room

Photo credit: Max Vakhtbovych/Pexels

General Cleaning:

First determine if this is an item you can clean yourself or if it is something a professional should tackle. This will depend on the fabric type and size of your piece. Stark advised to begin by checking the item’s tag. 

“In most cases, you can clean the fabrics in your home yourself,” said Karen Barrigan, a cleaning expert at Housetastic, a product review website. “However, if you have some staining on silk, linen or lace, it’s best to have these items cleaned by a professional. These fabrics are very delicate and could ruin if you don’t take the correct approach to cleaning.”

Sage Stone, co-founder and interior designer at Ever Wallpaper, recommends leaving the cleaning to a professional if you have sizable upholstered furniture pieces or throw pillows with complex patterns or intricate embroidery. Smaller items such as window treatments and throw rugs, however, you can probably handle yourself with the right tools and methods.

When it comes to spot cleaning, certain stains offer harder challenges than others depending on their composition, according to Stone, so always read the fabric label before removing any mark. “For general spot cleaning, use a damp cloth and mild detergent, but never use abrasive cleaners or solvents, as these can damage the fabric,” she said.

You can try specialized stain removers, vinegar and water solutions, or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mixtures. Avoid using bleach, ammonia or strong detergents since these can cause colors to fade or change. Always spot test in a hidden area to ensure the cleanser won’t damage your material. 

Deep Cleaning: There is a difference between general cleaning a fabric item and deep cleaning it. “General cleaning usually involves spot-cleaning any areas that may have accumulated dirt or other stains,” said Stark. “Deep cleaning involves a more thorough approach, such as washing all of the items in hot water or taking them to a professional cleaner.”

How to clean curtains

Photo credit: Carlos Caamal/Pexels

How to Clean:

Window Treatments: Keep in mind that some materials must be washed in a certain way, and some curtains require dry cleaning only, advised Barrigan. “It's very important before washing your curtains that you check the label to see whether or not they can be machine washed or what the recommended method of washing is.”

Start by vacuuming the curtains with a soft brush attachment, recommended Stone. Alternatively, Barrigan suggested shaking them outdoors. “You can then use a mild detergent and water mix (1:10 ratio) or an upholstery cleaner specifically designed for fabrics,” said Stone.

Barrigan advised to wash the curtains two panels at a time, using your washing machine’s gentle or delicate cycle and a cold wash. “If you can’t wash your curtains in the washing machine, these will need to be washed by hand in the sink or in the bath with a mild liquid detergent,” she said. Next, dry the curtains on a low heat setting or allow them to line dry outside.

Pillows: Start by shaking off any loose debris and dust, advised Barrigan. “If that’s not enough to remove all of the dust, you should then vacuum over the pillow to get everything off it.”

Next, clean the pillow with a damp cloth and a small amount of mild detergent, she said. Try not to scrub since you may damage the pillow, even if there are stains.

Machine-washable pillows can be washed in cold water on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent, according to Stone, who also recommends spot-cleaning non-washable pillows using a damp cloth and mild detergent before air-drying.

bedroom curtains and how to clean them

Photo credit: MW Studios/Pexels

Furniture Cushions: If you want to keep upholstery free from dirt and dust, try to vacuum it once each week, said Barrigan. Vacuuming regularly will help prevent small particles form embedding in the upholstery, which makes them more difficult to remove later.

Start the process by removing any throw cushions. “Take these outside and give them a good shake and a gentle bashing to remove the dust,” advised Barrigan Then, use the upholstery attachment to vacuum all of the visible areas on yourfurniture. Don’t forget to do the undersides and back of all the cushions. Barrigan suggests using a slow, sweeping motion while working from left to right.

For a deeper cleaning, get a bucket and add some liquid detergent with lukewarm water. “Then, use a white microfibre cloth to gently wipe over the upholstery, covering every area,” said Barrigan. Allow the upholstery plenty of time to air dry before using it.

It is recommended that every few months you sprinkle some baking soda over upholstered items such as your sofa, chairs and headboard to freshen them up, suggested Barrigan. “Allow the baking soda to sit for a minimum of 15 minutes,” she said. “Then, vacuum the baking soda away. This should help to remove any lingering odors from the fabrics.”

Featured image photo credit: Max Vakhtbovych/Pexels

Do you like DIY? Check out our article on refinishing your furniture.

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