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Fabric coverings are highly adaptable, delivering style to suit a range of different environments including lounge, dining room and bedroom settings. From natural fibres such as cotton, linen or wool; to blends and popular synthetic compositions like microfibre; fabric is often chosen for its warmth, comfort and tactile qualities. Caring for your fabric furniture, including being mindful of environmental conditions such as fading from exposure to direct sunlight or appropriate selection for high traffic areas, is really important in prolonging quality and usability.
For general care, fabric furniture can be washed or dry cleaned. In both situations (including choosing the most appropriate method) it’s very important to follow the care instructions on the product label.
For spot cleaning, start by mopping up any excess liquid or lightly scraping off the substance. Gently treat the area with a damp cloth to remove the stain. Try not to over-wet the fabric (this can leave a water mark), or rub too hard (as this may remove some of the colour). Spot cleaning is fine for smaller stains, however it’s sometimes better to clean the whole area (e.g. an entire cushion cover) in order to achieve a more uniform outcome.
For non-oily stains dilute neutral soap and warm water, and dab on to the stained area, blotting dry with a clean towel as you go. Once the stain is gone, blot with plain water and quickly dry using a hair dryer.
Oily stains like biro or are harder to successfully spot clean. Clean whole panels using a professional solvent (make sure you test on a hidden section of fabric first) and the same method as above; or take the opportunity to professionally clean the whole piece.
The list of individual stains is almost infinite, but here are a few of the most common, and how to tackle them. These tips are not substitutes for professional cleaning, but can be great short term solutions.
Ink can be best removed by first applying glycerine. You can buy pure glycerine from most chemists, as it’s commonly used as the base for cosmetics and soaps. Apply a small amount of glycerine to the stain. After about ten minutes, dip a cloth into a mixture of neutral soap and warm water and gently dab the stain. Blot with plain water and dry quickly.
Acting quickly is the key to dealing with red wine stains. Gently soak up as much of the wine as possible before it dries, or seeps in to your fabric. Use clean, dry paper towels. Pour a small amount of white wine or plain water on to the stain and blot with paper towel. Apply a layer of table salt to soak up any remaining moisture, vacuuming off after 20-30 minutes. If the stain is on a removable cover, wash or dry clean according to the product care label. If not, blot with clean water and allow to air dry.
Allow the shoe polish to dry, then gently scrape off with a blunt object (e.g. a teaspoon). Use a sponge to blot the stain (do not rub), rinse and repeat until you have absorbed the mark. If necessary, combine a tablespoon of dish washing detergent and a tablespoon of ammonia with two cups of warm water. Blot the stain with a clean cloth dipped in this cleaning solution until removed. Finally, blot with clean water and allow to air dry.
Sponge the stain with plain water, then apply a small amount of glycerine. Finish by blotting with clean water and allow to air dry.
Fabric protection treatments
Common fabric protection treatments can help guard against moisture absorption, and help make spot cleaning more effective.