Renting furniture makes life easier when you’re in a transition, but it does come with the responsibility of keeping it in top condition. If you don’t know how to keep your furniture clean, you can find yourself in a bit of a mess—both at home and with your rental agency. Here are a few tips for cleaning your furniture and preventing accidents.

1. Avoid the Mess

The best way to keep your furniture clean is to prevent messes from happening to begin with. Don’t eat or drink on hard-to-clean surfaces like beds or upholstered chairs and sofas, and use stain-protecting sprays on upholstery as an added protective measure. Keep both fabric and wood furniture out of the sun, extreme heat, and humidity to avoid cracking, fading, warping, or mildew, and use tablecloths, placemats, and coasters to keep tables and other surfaces free of damaging moisture. If you’re a pet owner, you can drape slipcovers over fabric furniture to keep them from shedding all over it (slipcovers are easy to remove and wash). Protect your furniture now and you won’t have to fret so much later.

2. Stick to a Cleaning Schedule

Keeping to a regular cleaning schedule ensures that dust, hair, dirt, and other unwanted substances do not accumulate and damage surfaces over time. For example, frequently vacuuming upholstery prevents the buildup of hair and dust. By rotating and fluffing pillows on both fabric and leather couches, you can also prevent uneven wear and tear, and flipping cushions helps retain their shape. Once a habit takes hold, it’ll be much easier to keep your furniture clean consistently.

3. Take Care of Spills Promptly

Despite all efforts to prevent them, sometimes accidents happen. The best course of action in these cases is to simply clean up the mess as soon as possible so stains can’t set in. There are best practices for different kinds of spills, however. When wine gets on the couch, don’t just scrub it with the nearest sponge. Find a soft, absorbent cloth and dab—don’t rub—the spot to absorb as much as possible before spraying any kind of spot cleaner. Be careful when scrubbing in general, no matter what the substance is. It’s best to scrub gently, especially on less durable fabrics like pillows.

4. Know Your Furniture

As you may have guessed from the previous tip, different types of furniture require different methods of cleaning. Do your research. Do you have wood, vinyl, or metal chairs? Polymer? Granite? Leather? It’s important to understand which products will work on which surfaces, because cleaning products that are safe for some furniture could be damaging to others. Warm, soapy water will work on wood, laminate, vinyl, and metal surfaces, but water should be used in moderation and not left sitting. Abrasives can be harmful to wood, laminate, polymer, and metals, and detergents and bleach should not be used on outdoor seating cushions, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), or laminate. For granite and leather, a damp cloth will suffice for mild cleaning.

5. Test Products First

Done your reading, know your furniture, and still unsure of whether a product is appropriate for a particular surface? Test it first. Use it on a small, hidden area, namely on the back or underside of a piece of furniture, so that if it doesn’t work properly, no one will notice any discoloration.

COVID Cleaning
Disinfecting surfaces is just as important as basic cleaning these days. The arrival of COVID-19 threw us into a cauldron of changes in work, human relations, and daily living, and now we are in the middle of a pandemic—everything we do is tempered by that fact. In addition to the furniture cleaning tips above, keep in mind these extra tips from the CDC.

Follow these five simple suggestions and you’ll have far less headache to deal with later when returning your rental furniture. Stay comfortable!

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