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Furniture Care Guide

Knowing how to properly maintain your furniture is important for both protecting your investment and keeping cherished pieces in top shape.


Whether you’ve purchased a new upholstered sofa, a beautiful wood dining table or a glass hallway stand, caring for furniture properly is important, yet sometimes goes overlooked. This guide will show you how little work is actually involved with maintaining your furniture’s good condition. Whether your aim is keeping an expensive investment in great shape or making sure future heirlooms are well-loved, this guide has you covered with some quick tips.

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Furniture Care

Wood Furniture

  • Use coasters, trivets and placemats for beverages and dishware (both room temperature and hot) at all times. Use coasters with felt or cork bottoms to reduce water rings.
  • Use a soft, dry and lint-free clean cloth to polish wood furniture on a weekly basis.
  • Don’t place newspapers or magazines directly on your wood furniture. The ink from these items can bleed onto the finish and damage the wood.
  • To remove water rings, rub with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and cooking oil, following the direction of the wood’s grain.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Polish with a soft, clean cloth.
  • Don’t use abrasives or harsh chemicals (e.g., ammonia) on wood furniture.
  • If you clean with a furniture polish make sure it does not contain a high amount of alcohol as it can damage wood finishes.
  • To remove substances like gum or melted candle wax, apply an ice cube for just a few seconds until the substance chills and hardens. Wipe away melting ice water to prevent water spots. Remove as much of the substance as possible with your fingers and gently scrape away the remainder with the dull edge of a butter knife. Finish by rubbing the spot briskly with a cloth coated in cream wax.

Upholstered Furniture

  • Applying fabric protector gives your piece added resistance to spills, but immediate cleaning is still needed as a best defence.
  • Keep upholstered pieces out of direct sunlight as ultraviolet rays cause most fabrics to fade and sometimes fray.
  • Turn over loose cushions periodically.
  • Vacuuming should ideally be done weekly to remove abrasive substances that can damage the fabric.
  • Using a brush/upholstery attachment, carefully vacuum the surface to remove dust and small particles.
  • Don’t place newspapers or magazines on upholstery. The ink from these items can bleed onto the fabric.
  • It is important to deodorize your upholstery on a regular basis. Deodorizers which use enzymes are effective at removing odour caused by a number of sources.

Many furniture manufacturers provide cleaning codes and instructions which list the preferred spot cleaning method for upholstered furniture (click here). If these aren't provided by the manufacturer feel free to contact a Sears upholstery cleaning expert. Below are some tips to assist you if you are confident cleaning upholstery and furniture fabrics on your own.

  • Don’t remove cushion covers or arm caps for separate cleaning as this may damage or destroy the backing, cause colour changes and promote shrinking.
  • It is recommended that you first test any cleaning product on an inconspicuous or unseen area. Do not use strong detergents or chemicals.
  • When a spill occurs blot (don’t scrub or rub) the spill with a cloth as quickly as possible to lessen the spread of the stain.
  • These easy-to-find items are helpful for cleaning and removing stains in upholstered furniture: white cloths; eye droppers and squeeze bottles (ideal for targeting stains and limiting the contact cleaning liquid has with the surrounding fabric); spray bottles (ideal when you don't want to completely soak fabric); medium bristle brushes such as a toothbrush; and soft bristled brushes (such as a clothes brush).
  • To prevent rings it is important to clean spots starting from the outside, gently working towards the middle of the affected area.

Leather Furniture

It is surprisingly easy to maintain leather furniture. Some scratches, “barbed wire” cracks, wrinkles and markings will appear on genuine leather over time and should not be considered a defect. These are natural markings and do not affect the quality or durability of your piece. With this noted there are steps you can take to maintain your leather pieces. It’s important to remove spills immediately using care/cleaning products designed for leather furniture.

  • Dust leather furniture regularly. Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool attachment to clean seams and corners.
  • It is recommended that you keep your valuable leather furniture at least 2 feet from heat sources and out of direct sunlight.
  • Clean weekly using a damp sponge (excessive water will distort leather) or soft, lint-free cloth. Wipe gently, taking care not to rub.
  • Don’t place newspapers or magazines on your leather furniture. The ink from these items can bleed onto the leather.
  • Use a moisturizing, oil-free soap. Test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure that the soap will not discolour the leather. As noted above, work into leather gently. Rinse by blotting with a damp cloth or sponge. Blotting during cleaning is key to removing excess water.
  • For more serious stains it is a good idea to contact a professional.

Glass Furniture

It goes without saying that you should handle and treat glass furniture with plenty of care. Always be mindful of its breakable and sometimes fragile nature.

  • Use cork coasters to keep tables from scratching and use decorative placemats under items placed on glass furniture.
  • To prevent scratches do not slide rough or uneven objects across glass.
  • With care, periodically rotate accessories on your glass furniture.
  • Buff glass pieces with a soft clean cloth, bathroom tissue or paper towel. Microsuede fabrics also make excellent cleaning cloths.
  • Do not clean glass without first rinsing off excessive dirt and debris.
  • Clean your glass table with mild solutions only, as abrasive cleaners may cause scratches. A milder detergent, mixed with warm water is often enough.
  • If “going green” is important to you a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar in warm water is an effective cleaning solution.
  • Apply your cleaner with a spray bottle and let it soak to loosen dirt.
  • Dry immediately with a dry lint-free cloth.

Environmental Conditions

Before active care even begins, maintaining a hospitable environment for your furniture is the first step you should take. Ambient factors such as humidity, light and temperature affect the condition of furniture – wood and painted pieces in particular. Maintaining a constant balance of temperate conditions that are not excessively dry or humid is essential for preventing damage. Keep wood furniture away from heating and air conditioning sources to prevent moisture loss. Areas that are too dry can cause your wood furniture to shrink, split or become brittle, while too much moisture can lead to mildew and mould. With this in mind, avoid placing furniture in steamy bathrooms, laundry areas and near other sources of humidity and excess moisture. To learn more about preventing mould from infesting furniture click here. Keep your furniture out of direct sunlight if possible to prevent light damage. For the most part, light damage takes the form of discolouration, bleaching and fading.