After some time goes by, you will inevitably have dust, stains and even critters such as dust mites on your couch. If your knee-jerk reaction is to kick the couch to remove them that probably won’t work. If your reaction is to spray it with chemicals and then vacuum it, that might work; unfortunately, that often puts harmful chemicals on it and sends them into the air to breathe, ingest or touch later. The best thing is to clean it without dangerous chemicals to protect you and your family, as well as the environment.
Even if your upholstery doesn’t look dirty, it gets that way over time. Small dirt particles can infiltrate it and tear away at the fibers. That can take years off the life of your couch or chair. Additionally, microscopic bugs can burrow themselves into it, and they can get on you when you sit on it. Those are in addition to any potential germs that may take residence there.
Relax! Green Upholstery Cleaning is Easy.
Therefore, it is important to clean your upholstery often. Running over it frequently with a vacuum attachment helps, but periodically it needs a deeper cleaning, just as your carpet does. The important thing, though, isn’t whether you do it yourself or have a professional upholstery cleaning service do it for you, but how it is cleaned. The main issue is the solution that you or the company uses to clean it.
If you clean it yourself, you may be tempted to use a commercially prepared solution that you spray on the material. These products may contain toxins such as acetone, which may depress the central nervous system or cause epilepsy, or nitrilotriacetic acid, which is a possible carcinogen. You don’t want anyone exposed to these – man or beast.
Green Upholstery Cleaning – How to Green Clean Your Own Upholstery
The most important step to cleaning your own upholstery is to check with the manufacturer’s instructions. Certain materials require different cleaning measures. Good examples would be mixtures of rayon, polyester and velvet. The guidelines here based on foam cleaning are general and not recommended for all materials.
When it comes to cleaning your upholstered furniture, it is often safer and less expensive to do it yourself. The first step is to vacuum the cushions regularly – front and back, as well as all other exposed areas – and then brush them out with a soft brush. That will keep you ahead of the game.
Several times per year, after giving it a good vacuuming, it is time to give it a deeper cleaning. You can do this by making your own green cleaning solution. To make the solution, you mix 1/4 cup of biodegradable, environmentally friendly dish soap (not laundry soap) with one cup of warm water. Use a mixer to blend them together into a thick foam.
Use a soft brush to apply the cleaning solution. It is important that you do not get the fabric too wet. You just need enough moisture to help remove dirt – you don’t want a wet couch. Brush the solution into the fabric gently. Go back over the upholstery with a dry, neutral-colored cloth to remove excess moisture, and then allow the furniture to air-dry completely.
For spot cleaning, try using lemon juice, club soda, diluted hydrogen peroxide (3 percent mixture) or some combination of them. Always test any solution on a hidden part of the upholstery to ensure it doesn’t damage or change the color of the material.
Whether spot cleaning or deeper cleaning, it is always best to use cool water to keep the stain or dirt from setting. The exception would be grease stains, which require warmer water. For those, you can use a natural shampoo and water mixture. These stains may require more rubbing to remove.
What to Look for in an Environmentally Safe Upholstery Cleaning Service
Sometimes it can be more effective to hire a professional cleaning service, providing they are eco-friendly. They can usually do a deeper cleaning than you can do yourself. Those kinds of companies are more common these days, and it doesn’t take a lot of research to find them. You just need to know a few things to look for:
Do they use cleaners that are
- Readily bio-degradable
- Safe for children, pets and even plants
- Not emitting CO2 into the environment
Good companies take additional steps to protect the environment. For example, they run their vehicles on electricity rather than fossil fuels alone. Some take courses that certify them in environmentally safe cleaning procedures. Some have tools that require less water in the cleaning process. This not only saves water, but it allows the upholstery to dry before mold can grow.
In other words, if you encounter a company that simply says, “oh, yeah, we do all that,” look further. Find one that thinks like you do and takes pride in protecting the environment. By the way, after you find the right one, consider hiring them to do the natural cleaning of your carpets and drapes, too.
It is important to reiterate one thing: A good eco-friendly upholstery cleaning company that uses safe product to clean your furniture can save the life of your pet. Humans can tolerate a small amount of toxins – though the substances can add up to be harmful over time; but, small pets, such as birds and exotics, are not so resistant to them. They have tiny lungs and tiny systems that may be overcome with lingering and residual fumes.
Therefore, even when you find companies you believe are satisfactory, ask them straight away what cleaning solution they use. If you are not familiar with it, research it before you hire them. Get them to list those substances in the contract before you let them use them in your home.
One more thing: Make sure the company you hire does the work itself. It may appear the company is excited about protecting the environment, but it may hire a sub-contractor to do your ‘eco-friendly’ upholstery cleaning who isn’t as conscience. It wouldn’t hurt to get references, either.