Care and Maintenance of Furniture

Residential Interior Design

Care And Maintenance Of Furniture

Upon completion of a full-service interior design project, I want to ensure that my clients can maintain what we have created for long after installation.

If we’ve just completed a renovation or design project together you’ll know that it takes up a lot of resources and anywhere from 8 to 24 months from concept to completion. I’m therefore happy to share some handy tips I’ve accumulated over the years from my most trusted suppliers and trade partners. I invite you to refer to this checklist to help care for your newly designed space.

First and foremost, it is crucial that you discuss the proper care and maintenance of your (new) furniture with your cleaning person or cleaning company. Based on my experience, they don’t always know how to maintain certain materials, especially those that are more delicate to care for. Providing them with clear instructions can prevent costly accidents.

General Furniture Care Tips

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Below are a few simple, yet effective habits that can prevent damage to your furniture.

  • Do not use cleaning products containing ammonia, bleach or other harsh chemicals. If for some reason there is a need for these, ensure that the products are kept away from fabrics (e.g. sofas), wood (e.g. tables) and metal (e.g. side tables). Replace gloves and cloths immediately after use.
  • Always use coasters, placemats and trivets to protect surfaces from wet and hot items. This is particularly important for wooden and metallic surfaces. By keeping a set of (stylish) coasters nearby in those areas you are likely to enjoy a drink, will encourage people to use them.
  • Always protect items from direct sunlight when not in use with the help of curtains, blinds and shutters.
  • Do not leave newspapers or other printed material lying on (light coloured) surfaces.
  • Use felt pads for all furniture that sits on wood floors to avoid damage to the floor.
  • Always pay attention to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer according to the specific finish.

styling bookshelves with travel memorabilia

Wood Maintenance

Wood is one of the most popular materials in furniture making. It being a natural material, it will inevitably show some colour variations over time caused by sunlight. Also, be aware that expansion and contraction will occur with changes in humidity. Keeping more or less constant ambient humidity levels at around 40 – 60% will minimize seasonal expansion/ contraction of  the wood.

The below tips will also help take care of wood furniture and wood surfaces, so that you can ensure their longevity.

  • Avoid direct sunlight by protecting your furniture when not in use, e.g. use curtains and blinds.
  • Place wood furniture at least 30 cm from heaters.
  • Protect surface when using markers, crayons etc.
  • Avoid putting hot items such as dishes, pots or tea/coffee cups directly on the wood.
  • Always use placemats or coasters under beverages to prevent marks and (water) stains.
  • Keep pointed and sharp objects away from furniture to avoid damaging the surface and finish.
  • Attend to spills immediately (this applies to pretty much any surface). Do not wipe or buff, instead blot the area.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaning materials, such as kitchen sponges.
  • Regularly dust with a soft dry cloth.
  • Use a damp (not wet) cloth with a small amount of mild soap to wipe down. Immediately dry afterwards.
  • Untreated wood should also be wiped down with oil or wax at least once per year. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain. Rubbing the surface is not advisable, as it could damage the finish.

There are many types of woods and depending on the type of wood, its grain, its colour and also its finish, the care might somewhat vary. For example, reclaimed woods or kiln-dried Suar woods (heat finished woods featuring a very distinctive texture) are very porous and will easily soak up liquids, which causes the wood to swell or warp. The longer the spill sits, the deeper it can penetrate, so again it’s essential to dry spills immediately.

Interior Designer’s Insider Tip

You can also use mayonnaise to freshen up natural untreated wood surfaces. Yes, you read that right! I’ve tried it myself and it really works. This quick and easy trick will leave the wood looking fresh and vibrant. In my experience it works best on mid-tone wood colours, such as oaks. As it will slightly alter the colour, I suggest you first test it on a small area and leave it over night. If you like the result, then proceed to applying it to the entire surface.

This is how you do it:

  1. Apply mayonnaise onto a soft dry cloth and work it into the cloth.
  2. Then slowly wipe down the surface until the entire surface has a nice sheen to it.
  3. Leave overnight to dry and then wipe down with a damp cloth. Voilà!

rattan

Caring for Rattan Furniture

Rattan has always been popular in and other tropical climates. The material is currently experiencing a revival together with other natural materials in Europe and the USA. In order to ensure the longevity of your rattan furniture, please follow the below instructions:

  • Regularly vacuum with an upholstery attachment to remove dust.
  • Avoid exposure to heat, sharp objects and cleaning products.
  • Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  • Avoid and protect from direct sunlight to minimize fading.

award winning kitchen design Caribbean

Maintenance of Stones

Stone is a natural material and much like wood, doesn’t need a lot of care. Yet, damage can occur from water, alcohol, fire and acidic liquids and chemicals. PH neutral stone cleaners and castile soap are best.

Slate

Slate is quite soft and porous and therefore slightly more delicate. Always use a lint-free cloth or mop. To keep black slate from turning grey, you can use small amounts of teak oil.

Marble and Travertine

Marble and other limestones should never be treated with chemicals. Lacquered versions are generally more stain resistant, but sunlight can turn the lacquer yellow over time. Do not place any hot items onto lacquered surfaces as it may cause for the surface to crack and bubble.

Granite

Granite is usually very scratch resistant, but can crack with extreme cold (e.g. outdoors in winter). Always wipe spills, especially oil spills immediately. Should the stone still soak up the oil causing a dark spot, you can use K2R spot remover. It may, however, take 1 to 3 months until the spot clears.

terrazzo finish

Terrazzo Maintenance

At the time of writing, Terrazzo is making a huge comeback. It is popular as flooring, small pieces of furniture, such as side tables and home accessories. Due to its multi-colour pattern it is quite forgiving, but still needs proper care.

  • Address spills immediately by wiping with a dry, soft cloth.
  • Dust regularly with a soft, damp cloth, followed by a dry one.
  • Avoid cleaning products with acid, vinegar, lemon and ammonia, as abrasive ingredients can damage the surface.
  • Protect surface when using markers, crayons etc.

Maintaining Concrete

Concrete has unique natural characteristics such as small open pores and slight cosmetic splits to the surface. To maintain the industrial appeal, please follow the below instructions:

  • Regularly dust with a dry, soft cloth.
  • Do not use furniture polish or ammonia-based cleaning products.
  • Keep out of direct sunlight and away from heat. There is concrete furniture suited for outdoors, but they must be covered or stored indoors during inclement weather.
  • Avoid direct contact between sharp objects and the surface.
  • Use coasters and trivets to protect the surface from wet or hot cups or dishes.
  • Address spills immediately by wiping with a dry, soft cloth.
  • Protect surface when using markers, crayons etc.

Lacquered Surfaces

These include wood finishes, faux concrete and faux limestone as well as high gloss surfaces.

  • Lacquered tops should be cleaned with a silicone free furniture polish.
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners or hardwax which will be harmful to the finish.
  • Never spray polish directly on the furniture, but instead spray onto the cleaning cloth.
  • Any spills should be blotted immediately. Avoid using a wiping or buffing motion.
  • Do not use abrasive sponges or harsh chemicals.
  • Use coasters to avoid staining (water, wine etc.)
  • Do not leave newspapers and other print material lying on the surface.

global aesthetics

Maintenance of Metals

Steel, Chrome, Brass, Bronze and Stainless Steel

Metal is a very popular and versatile material for furniture, lighting and surfaces. Metals should generally be avoided in humid climates, especially near the sea. Humidity and sea air will cause discolouration and corrosion. Even stainless steel will corrode in a matter of months if not weeks.

  • To maintain the material’s natural appearance, avoid sharp objects on surfaces.
  • Use coasters, trivets and placemats for protection against hot or wet items.
  • Address spills immediately by wiping with a dry, soft cloth.
  • Dust regularly with a soft, damp cloth, followed by a dry one.
  • Do not use cleaning products containing acid, vinegar, lemon and ammonia. Abrasive ingredients can damage the surface.
  • Metal surfaces are not scratch resistant. Do not use abrasive sponges, such as steel wool.
  • Nickel products require the light use of a proprietary silver cloth periodically.
  • Bronze and brass finishes can, if handled incorrectly, result in uneven patination, which is why it is recommended to use white gloves during installation and subsequent handling.

striking rug design and luxury decor

Glass Care

Glass is easy to clean, using a soft, dry, lint-free cloth and glass cleaner. However, do not place hot items on a glass surface as it may crack. Take care with ceramics and porcelain, as their rough surface can scratch the glass.

Mirror

Mirror glass should be treated with proprietary cleaner, except on antiqued mirror glass where abrasive cleaning products should be avoided. Do not use any sharp items as it may scratch the mirror coating. Wipe with a lint-free, soft damp cloth.

Plexiglas and Perspex (acrylic glass)

These materials should be dusted with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. A damp cloth can be used if required, followed by a buff with a dry cloth. Do not use any cleaning products and never use micro fibre cloths to avoid scratches.

Caring for Fabrics

Soft Furnishing Care

The fabrics should be carefully selected to suit the use of the property and according to your lifestyle. Whenever possible select fabrics that are washable. Ask your interior designer, interior decorator, curtain maker or upholsterer to provide you with the care instructions for the fabrics used in your property.

taupe sofa and turquoise art

Upholstery Care

Ideally, the covers of your upholstery furniture, e.g. sofa is removable and washable. It is advisable to let a professional handle major stains and/ or washing of upholstery covers to help avoid irreversible damage. Nonetheless, by following the below guidelines you can avoid frequent washing or dry cleaning.

  • Avoid and protect from direct sunlight and exposure to heat, sharp objects and cleaning products.
  • Vacuum regularly with a soft bristle non-metallic brush to remove dust and grime and to prevent overall soiling.
  • Rotate, fluff and smooth cushions for even wear.
  • When cleaning a spill, blot immediately to remove spilled material. Evenly clean the entire panel in a seam-to-seam fashion. Do not just clean the spots or stains.
  • When an overall soiled condition has been reached and professional care is required contact a certified cleaning firm (e.g. IICRC Certifed) that specializes in upholstery cleaning.
  • The removal and washing/ dry-cleaning of seat cushion covers should be left to professionals.

Rug and Carpet Care

Rugs are made of many different types of materials. Wool, silk and cotton being the most common ones. Care and maintenance will vary depending on the material the rug is made of. Always refer to the care instruction provided by the manufacturer.

  • Vacuum at least once a week. Also, flip the rug over and vacuum the back regularly.
  • Take the rug outside every 6 – 12 months and whack the rug to remove dust and dirt.
  • Cover spills with a clean dry cloth and blot. Do not rub, as it may damage the pile.
  • If necessary, use a soapy solution (carpet shampoo or dish soap) to clean spills, blot with a wet cloth until all soap is out, then blot dry with a dry clean cloth.
  • Professional cleaning only. Do not machine wash.

Elitis Linen

Curtains and Blinds Care

The care of curtains highly depends on the type of curtain or blind and of course on the fabric they are made of. Always check specific care instructions with your interior designer, interior decorator or curtain maker. As a general rule of thumb, always dry clean lined curtains, because the fabric and lining may respond differently when washed.

If the curtain fabric is washable and has been pre-washed before the curtains were confectioned (something I always ask my curtain makers to do) then machine washing on a gentle cold cycle is possible, as long as the style is relatively simple (e.g. flat heading curtains) and made of a single type of fabric (no lining, no borders etc.). No matter the purpose of your curtains (sun protection, privacy, decor), I highly recommend to always pull your curtains close when the room is not in use or when you are away on travel to protect your furniture from direct sunlight.

Blinds

  • Please wipe clean with a damp cloth, then dry with a clean dry cloth.
  • Do not roll up blind when damp or wet.
  • Keep blinds lowered when the room is not in use to protect furniture from sunlight.

Lampshades

  • Lampshades, particularly silk lampshades, should be kept away from direct sunlight.
  • Dust and flock can be removed by gently vacuuming with a soft brush attachment or lightly dusting with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth.

The above checklist is not all inclusive, but will be updated as and when I receive valuable tips from manufacturers and vendors. Bookmark this article and make sure to share these tips on the care and maintenance of furniture and other home decor with your cleaning professional. This way you will be able to enjoy your home or home away from home for many years to come.

Warm regards,

Simone xx

 

Disclaimer: Please note that these are recommendations. Under no circumstances will I/ Global Inspirations Design be held responsible or liable in any way for any damages or expenses resulting thereof.

 

About the Author

Interior Designer and Blogger

Welcome to Global Inspirations Design’s Blog!

I’m Simone Aïda Baur and I invite you to embark on a design journey with me. My blog is your passport to global inspirations and where I share my passion and discoveries from the world of interior design.

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