Friday, September 07, 2007

Cleaning upholstery without a machine

We bought two Norwalk chairs at a consignment shop four years ago. Apart from a handheld steamer, I hadn't cleaned the cushions at all. Now, a rich tapestry fabric hides a lot of dirt, but even I could see the peanut butter smears.

I had neither time nor money to rent a steam cleaner for the day. Instead, I filled up the bathtub with warm water, added Oxiclean Baby laundry detergent, and soaked the cushion covers. The water INSTANTLY turned brown, making me feel like the worst housekeeper on earth!

It took three more tubfulls to get clear water. I let the covers drip for an hour, then laid them on a sheet in the sun to dry. While you're at it, air the cushions in the sun, too.

Insert the cushions while the covers are STILL DAMP. Otherwise, the fabric may not fit back on the cushions after drying. Cotton may shrink more than synthetics.

This method did use a lot of water, but I'm very pleased with the result!


Carrie J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrie J said...

When I recovered my couch cushions, Here is a link.
I removed the back cushion covers to wash and restuff them. It worked very well. Replacing the covers while wet is a good tip. My covers are mostly cotton. They didn't shrink hardly any probably because I used lukewarm water.

Carrie J said...

I guess you have to click Open in another window, to get that link to open properly. I thought I had figured out how to do that. Oh well. If someone could tell me how to add a clickable link properly I would greatly appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

I bet the water didn't change color from dirt, but from fabric dye. Your after picture still looks bright and beautiful, though!

Anonymous said...

I love slip covers. I am lucky enough to know how to sew. I learned at my grandmother's knee...I will always have slip covers for my furniture because of dogs (we have 4) and kids (there are 12 in this house because of the day care)
Your right about putting the covers back on while still damp. I do that too. I am also washing my covers in my front loading washer. What a wonderful machine it is. Even my king size comforter fits into it..
I know your company will enjoy their time in your beautiful home. Have fun this weekend and enjoy the visit.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Debbie about the dye. Next time, if you put a little vinegar in the final rinse, it should set the color (that will help against the sun too). Using some kind of mordant is especially important with natural fibers.

Thanks for the tip about putting the cushions back in the covers. I would never have thought of it.


Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I'm another one who thinks the dye may have actually been what turned the water. Don't feel like a bad housekeeper because of it!

I love Woolite's Upholstery cleaner. I have a cat with a weak stomach, and a somewhat messy husband. Our couch cushions have received their share of messes, and Woolite's cleaner is fabulous. I highly recommend it for spot cleaning, although I did use it all over once when I thought the couch could use a bit of a cleaning.

MommyLydia said...

I LOVE OxyClean baby. I went looking for something to get off formula/breastfeeding stains and this stuff is magic. But since having it in the house are already learning it works for more than baby! (though my husband wonders how it is different than regular Oxiclean)

Anonymous said...

This was a GREAT post! My furniture is still pretty new, and my kids don't eat on it, but they're still kids, so I'm sure the cushions will need it soon. Thanks!