Upholstery, Carpets, and Drapes Need Attention, Not Chemicals

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Last month, we talked about cleaning hard surfaces on the boat, and this month it’s soft goods such as upholstery, draperies and carpet.

Dust settles on upholstery and fabrics just as it does on hard surfaces. It should be removed regularly with vacuum cleaner attachments: the upholstery nozzle, brush and crevice tool. However, if you are cleaning down-filled cushions or pillows that are not lined with down-proof ticking, always use a soft brush by hand because vacuuming could pull the down out through the fabric.

Vacuuming will remove some dust but it will also scatter dust around so remember to vacuum the surrounding area when you are finished.

Different fabrics require different types of care. Here are some guidelines for cleaning window treatments and upholstered furniture.

Canvas, jacquard, and rayon: Run a dry-cleaning sponge over the fabric in short, even strokes to lift out dirt. Be careful on jacquard because delicate threads can pull and snag.

Add 2 capfuls of mild detergent to a bucket of cool water. Dip in a sponge or cloth, wring out well and go over the fabric with long even strokes. Use as little liquid as possible to prevent mildew.
Allow to air dry.

Leather and Vinyl:

Vacuum the piece of furniture using a soft brush on a low setting.

Slightly dampen a microfiber cloth with water and rub the soiled areas. Water can remove dirt and it won’t permanently discolor the leather.

For deeper cleaning consult a professional. Use leather cleaners and protectors with care, if at all, because they can stain some leathers.

Pile fabrics (such as chenille and corduroy) and wool:

Vacuum the piece on a low setting with the upholstery brush, using long horizontal strokes. Do not use a hard brush attachment as this can pull on fabric and snag it. A dry cleaning sponge or a slightly dampened cloth can be used to lift dirt.For deep cleaning, consult a pro. Slipcovers of cotton and linen:

Remove covers and machine wash them on a delicate setting, following care instructions that are on the label, which is usually attached near the zipper. Hang to dry.

Slipcovers of silk:

Hand wash in a sink filled with warm water and a capful of detergent. Or have them dry-cleaned. Hang to dry.
Slipcovers of suede:

Do not use any moisture on suede, since it will be permanently stained. Use a product recommended by the manufacturer.

For deep cleaning, consult a pro.

Carpets and rugs. Oriental, antique or delicate rugs:

Be careful with these valuable, delicate items. Do not vacuum them because suction from the vacuum can loosen threads from the weave. Instead, sweep gently with a soft nylon broom.

Water and cleaners can stain, so always consult a specialist about any cleaning that needs to be done.
Natural fibers (such as wool, sisal and sea grass):

Vacuum on high power with a brush with a beater bar attachment.

To remove ground-in dirt, push the vacuum over spots several times.

Carpet cleaners can stain or bleach out areas, so use a cloth dampened with water to get out any spots.

Blot dry and then allow to air dry.

If water does not get the stain out you will need to do a little detective work. It is important to know what type of stain you are dealing with, as specific solutions are used on different types of stains. Using the wrong solution can permanently set the stain.

Never apply stain remover directly onto the carpet; apply to a clean cloth instead and use the cloth to carefully work on the spot. If in doubt, consult a professional cleaner.

Synthetics (such as nylon, polyester and polypropylene):

Vacuum and spot-treat with water. Synthetics often have a stain resistant finish applied, so water is usually enough to release spots and stains without using any cleaner.

Blot treated spots with a towel.

Use a soft carpet brush to raise the pile of the carpet. This exposes fibers to the air so they will dry faster.

Generally speaking, when it comes to cleaning upholstery and carpet, keep it simple if you can. Always try using a cloth slightly dampened with water to gently lift spots out. Do not rub too much as this will grind in the stain.

Commercial spot removers can do more harm than good, so use sparingly, if at all. When in doubt, consult a professional cleaner.