The Surprising Cause of Upholstery Stains

We naturally assume that kids and pets are the prime culprits of furniture stains. They can be messy, dirty, and sticky, and they are more concerned with the bounciness quality of furniture, not how supple and elegant the material is.

But, even though they are the primary cause for most stains, you and your dinner guests can damage your furniture just as much. How, you may ask?

By simply sitting on it.

No matter how clean you are, your skin is coated in a layer of oils that can rub off when you lean against another substance for a long period of time. If these oils aren't frequently removed, they can sink into the upholstery and cause long-lasting stains that typical store bought cleaners won't remove.

So, how on earth do you keep your couches clean? Don't worry. We've compiled the most common types of stains and their remedies to help your house stay in top shape. First though, make sure your upholstery can be cleaned using water. Typically the underside of furniture is marked with a W or WS. If you don't see one of these, your best option is to call a professional.

Water-based stains

This is the most common type of stain and includes spilling a drink, food, or sitting on the couch with wet clothes. These stains are easier to clean, by blotting up the spill and cleaning with water, club soda or water-based upholstery cleaners, and can be completely lifted if treated soon after the spill. Take care not to use too much water as the water itself if not dried completely can leave stains.

Oil-based stains

Oil-based stains are much harder to clean because they are not soluble in water, and therefore cannot be lifted with water-based cleaners. To clean these types of stains:

  1. Wet a cloth with water and a quarter tsp. of dish soap. Wring it out until it is just damp, and blot it gently across the area until all oil is removed.
  2. Wash the soap and oil out of the cloth and after wringing it out a second time, gently agitate the cloth over the area a second time to remove any remaining soap.
  3. Using a hair dryer on medium heat, dry the fabric until the stain disappears from the upholstery. Repeat the process if it is still there.

If you're really worried about spills and stains on your furniture, you might want to think about switching up your materials. Polyester blends, and solution-dyed acrylics are all durable and more spill-resistant, so look for these types of fabrics instead of silk, rayon, and rayon-polyester blends.

But, even if you do have sensitive coverings, stains and marks can be prevented with a quick sweep of the vacuum every time you clean your house.

To extend the life of your furniture, and to keep it looking pristine, manufacturers recommend having the upholstery cleaned every 12-18 months by a professional.

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