Preservation 101: How to Keep Your Furniture Looking Like New
Use Best Cleaning Practices for Your Furniture
Not every cleaning agent has all-purpose applications. So choose the right type of product for your furniture’s material. Wood, for instance, as an organic material needs care if you want to preserve it. “Teak oil [often made from tung and linseed oil] is a great preservative for wood,” said Alessandro Gazzo, content creator for Emily's Maids in Dallas, Texas. “It keeps it healthy.”
Keep water away from those wooden surfaces. That means taking care when you mop because the wood will absorb its moisture and that can cause it to weaken or rot over time. Some furniture finishes, like polyurethane, help protect against spills, according to Gazzo, so choose pieces that experience high traffic, such as your coffee or dining room tables carefully. Other items won't require as much protection (mirror, armoires, closet doors or open shelves).
Keeping the material in mind is also essential for upholstery, according to Alex Varela, general manager of Dallas Maids. The most common upholstery materials are cotton, linen and leather—and each have different challenges.
“Cotton is one of the most widely used natural fiber for furniture,” said Varela. “This material can be susceptible to stains. For most messes, Varela suggested mixing ¼-cup of vinegar and ¾-cup warm water, then scrubbing lightly in a circular motion with a microfiber cloth.
Linen also stains easily, and it wrinkles. Varela suggested using baking soda to clean it. “Just sprinkle it all over your couch (always test before in a small, hidden area!), let it sit for 20 minutes and then use your vacuum cleaner. Baking soda will deodorize and sanitize your surface.”
Leather is organic material so take care with it. Avoid any cleaning product with chlorine; instead look for specialized products and tools (i.e., a leather brush and a leather conditioner). “A good rule of thumb is that you should use conditioner at least once a quarter,” said Varela.
Rug Care—Shearing and Cleaning Tricks
Sheep are not the only thing that finds renewal with shearing. Certain pile rugs benefit from removing the faded ends at the top of the pile. “The pile of a hand-knotted rug (and certain machine-made rugs) will be anywhere from ¼-inch high to one-inch high,” explained Ben Tavakolian, rug master at Behnam Rugs. “The longer the pile of the rug, the better the results from shearing will be.”
Shearing will remove the pile’s faded ends. “A rug with a very low pile may not have noticeable results from shearing, but most hand-knotted rugs have a pile that is long enough to shear (over ¼-inch tall),” said Tavakolian. So handmade and machine-made rugs woven with knots work well, but flatweaves that do not have a pile cannot undergo shearing. Some rugs like tufted rugs are suited for shearing, but since the cost often exceeds the rug’s value, it’s not recommended.
With rugs, DIY isn’t a good idea. It’s better to leave this to the professionals—something that should be done every three to five years. “Ideally, you should take your rug to a rug cleaning company that uses brushes, paddles, squeegees, or a combination of these tools to clean your rug,” offered Tavakolian. “Call and ask the company if they use machinery to clean rugs. If they do, don't work with them. The machinery that is used to agitate the fibers during cleaning can affect the integrity of your rug and cause the fringe, binding, or even the body of the rug to unravel.”
You should also avoid carpet cleaners. Tavakolian said that these companies leave soap behind that can cause color bleeding and dull the rug's finish. They also use machinery more appropriate for tough synthetic carpets. For minor stains, you can use a mild dish soap and water. Don’t be tempted to use anything else even if the bottle states it’s rug-safe.
Letting Sunlight In Without Fading Your Décor
We all love the sun—but, oh, how its rays can damage things. Preserving drapes and curtains is not easy because they are exposed to that bright light all day long, which eventually discolors them. “To avoid this, you need to choose your materials wisely in the first place,” suggested Gazzo. according to Gazzo. “Your outdoor curtains or curtains exposed directly to sunlight need to be made of fabric resistant to UV. They won't last forever but they do have a longer life than regular curtains.” Blackout curtains can also prevent sunlight from damaging your décor. They work well in the bedroom, protecting your furniture and facilitating your sleep with a pitch-black room and no distracting wisps of light to bother your slumber.
UV window protection keeps the UV rays out—making your curtains and furniture last longer. These are sold as a film that you apply over your glass, explained Gazzo.
Limiting the amount of sunlight your furnishings receive helps increase its life. Rotating items also preserves them. Tavakolian recommended rotating your rugs every six months or so to even out fading from the sun. If the rug is outdoors, he suggested rotating it every two months.
Keep Outdoor Furniture Clean and Covered
Outdoor furniture might seem low-maintenance since its made to withstand life in the outside world, but even the most durable and weather resistant materials need care sometimes.
Here are some things to keep in mind, according to Jordan Collins, handyman and home improvement expert at Two Lions 11.
- Use furniture protection—Sunlight, salt water and wind can all destroy your furniture. Be sure to cover or store those chairs and sofas off-season.
- Preserve your metal furniture with periodic cleaning—Get rid of those rusty stains by using a wire brush, applying a cleaning agent (make sure it is specifically designed for metal surfaces). Then rinse and dry fully before using again.
- Increase the lifespan of wicker furniture—Wicker needs regular cleaning. You can use a sponge or a microfiber cloth and water mixed with liquid soap—and then gently clean it so your don’t break its caning. Make sure to repair anything that comes loose.
Choosing the right fabric and materials for your garden furniture is one way to ensure it will withstand the test of time, offered Thomas O’Rourke, an editor at Horticulture magazine, who recommended looking for strong and durable pieces, like stainless steel framed furniture, and choosing waterproof fabrics to cover the frame. For timber options, he said that hardwoods are generally preferred since their high natural oil content make them incredibly resistant to weather damage. “Hardwood options such as teak and ipe should … last a minimum of 15 years, even with very little protection. While these options are more expensive, they will last longer which means greater value in the longterm.”
Shearing photo from: Behnam Rugs. All others from Pexels.
For more about preserving furniture, see our blog post about the differences between indoor and outdoor fabric and how choosing the right product ensures your furniture will decorate your home for years and years.
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