Caring for Furniture

Use these tips to care for your furniture and it'll look its best for years to come.

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Upholstered furniture
Dust and dirt act like sandpaper on furniture fabric, so remove it frequently. Vacuum upholstered furniture weekly; lift cushions and use the crevice tool to remove hidden crumbs beneath. Keep upholstered furniture looking new with these tips:

Flip, swap and rearrange. Being territorial creatures, most humans gravitate to their favorite places but when it's the same seat on a long sofa day after day, that preference will start to show. Flip loose cushions regularly, and rotate them on a multi-cushion unit. Similarly, rearrange upholstered furniture once or twice a year to distribute wear more evenly. Switch the position of a love seat and a sofa, or swap the positions of a set of chairs as the seasons change.

Arm caps. Places where bare skin or hair come to rest — armrests, chair backs, seat cushions — are subjected to higher levels of soil and abrasion. Protect high-contact areas of upholstered furniture with arm caps tailored to fit snugly over chair and sofa arms. Made from the same upholstery fabric, they're all but indistinguishable as they protect fabric from wear.

Slipcovers. In areas with hot summer weather, consider washable slipcovers. Traditionally applied to furniture during the warm season, slipcovers protect against sweat, suntan oil and other summer hazards.

Fabric protection. Spray-on fabric protectors coat fibers and protect upholstery from spills and stains. Fabric protectors can be applied at the mill as the fabric is processed, by the furniture retailer, or at home using commercial spray products. If you apply fabric protection yourself, read the product instructions and observe safety procedures carefully.

Caring for leather furniture
Leather upholstery can last for many years if looked after correctly. Follow these tips to take good care of leather furnishings:

Keep away from heat and light. Leather furniture is very sensitive to heat and sun damage. Position it away from windows, and from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and central heating vents.

Uncoated leathers. Furniture made from uncoated leathers should be dusted frequently. An art gum eraser may remove some stains or deposits safely, but do not use leather creams, conditioners or saddle soap on uncoated leather, since these products can change the color or appearance of the leather.

Coated leathers. Check with the manufacturer for recommended cleaning methods. Vacuum regularly to remove surface soil. Commonly, leather creams or conditioners may be used to clean coated leather once or twice or year. Test leather cleaners in an inconspicuous spot before using.

Avoid unsuitable products. Never use oil, furniture polish, dusting sprays or ordinary stain removers on leather furniture.

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Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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