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cleaning couch, upholsteryCorbis

Do you clean your upholstered furniture regularly? Don't wait until you can see the dust and dirt. Add this job to your weekly cleaning routine, and you'll save a hassle down the road.

First, take off the pillows and the cushions and use the crevice tool on your vacuum to really get into all those spots that hold the dust and dirt. If the cushions are not removable, dig your crevice tool into all the available seams and corners. Replace the cushions and look over the pieces carefully; if you see any spots or stains treat them immediately.

If you have a stain on a cushion, don't pull the cover off and throw it in the wash. This could cause damage and shrinkage. Unzip the back of the cushion and put a towel in between the cushion and the fabric cover; then treat the stain accordingly. Test any cleaning solution on a hidden part of the upholstery for colorfastness. It's a good idea to contact the furniture or upholstery manufacturer to see if you can get specific cleaning instructions for your particular fabric.

There are many types of stains -- namely protein-, oil-, dye-, and tannin-based stains -- each of which require specific treatment. For a generic spot treater, whip together two teaspoons of clear dish soap and a half a cup of water until it's nice and foamy. Use a damp white cloth to dab the mixture onto the stain. (Make sure that the cloth is white because it won't transfer dyes like a colored cloth could.)

When you can see that the stain has lifted, dab the soap out with a second cloth and clean water. For an even easier spot treater, try white shaving cream. Use very little on a damp white cloth to treat all kinds of mystery stains. When the stain is gone, dab with a second cloth and clean water.

To easily clean throw pillows, toss them in the dryer and set it on air or fluff with some tennis balls to freshen and dust in one step.

These tips should help your upholstered furnishings look and smell great -- and last longer too!


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