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Uncovering the Maintenance of the Cover-up

The upholstery of a piece of furniture makes a huge difference to its appearance, longevity, feel and cost. Learn more…

By Nrithya Maria Andrews

Fabrics have a great way of working their magic on you. They play an important role in changing the look and feel of your room. If you have an old couch that has seen brighter days, don’t throw it away because you can change the type, pattern and colour any which way, for a seemingly new piece. Manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the convenience of being able to wash and toss upholstery into the washing machine. each material has its pros and cons, so choose wisely!

Choosing the right fabric
choose appropriate fabrics for your furniture. colour, texture, durability and maintenance make a huge difference to your experience. So keep these factors in mind. For example, dark or heavily printed synthetics would work well for areas of high usage; and exotic, hard to maintain silks should stay in an infrequently used area.


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Cotton: Cotton upholstery fabric is available in natural cotton and cotton blends. Cotton blends tend to be stronger and more durable than cotton. When covered with a stain-resistant finish, they hold up well around children, although they are susceptible to staining and wrinkling.

Leather: Leather is an expensive option, but is extremely durable and easy to clean. It is resistant to staining, and a simple wipe-down keeps it in good shape. Leather is a wise choice for high-traffic areas of the home. However, leather does feel slightly uncomfortable in extremely hot weather. For a more ethical solution, faux leather also works well.

Silk: Silk is extremely delicate and it is advisable to use only on pieces that are not used often. It stains easily and is best avoided in households with children or pets. The colours and patterns available in silk are rich, and the texture is extremely smooth. Choose Ahimsa Silk for an ethical option.

Linen: Linen is another strong and durable material that comes in a wide array of colours and patterns. Linen wrinkles and stains easily, and must be cleaned professionally. However, linen is certainly a better choice than silk for furniture.

Acrylic: Acrylic is a synthetic material that is strong, durable and less likely to shrink or wrinkle over time. Acrylic is also easy to clean, and comes in many colours and patterns. For a family with children or pets, consider using a high- quality acrylic fabric to upholster any furniture in a main room, such as the living room. Those with allergies might consider a hypoallergenic acrylic fabric for their furniture.


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When you know how to clean and care for your upholstered furniture, it will retain the look that made you fall in love with it in the first place. it pays to be consistent…

Avoiding sunlight and pollutants

Too much sun can damage your upholstery fabric, causing it to fade and even fray. Try to position it so that it doesn’t sit in the sun for extended periods of time. This is especially true for silks. airborne pollutants such as fumes from cooking or smoke can also harm your fabric.


The best form of fabric protection is prompt attention to spills. it is usually treated with soil and/or water repellents and some form of mildew inhibitors may also be used. While this helps with maintenance and care by keeping spills from being absorbed in to the upholstery fibres right away, it is not a substitute for prompt cleaning of a soiled piece.

Spot cleaning

While regular care does a lot for your upholstered furniture’s maintenance, accidents will happen. blot any spills immediately with a clean folded towel: never rub, but blot gently. always test in an inconspicuous area before you use any product for spot cleaning, and check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you need water-based or solvent-based cleaner.

Turning the cushions

You can extend your upholstered furniture’s life by periodically turning over the loose cushions. This maintenance method allows for an even distribution of wear and tear, and they won’t develop indentations right away. Fluffing them after you’ve cleaned them helps keep them in shape.

Use a dry microfibre cloth or the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to dust your leather seating weekly. For removing stains on leather, use a white cloth lightly wet with lukewarm water. Just allow the leather to air dry. For resistant stains, the best bet is to contact a professional.


Vacuum your upholstered furniture weekly for general cleaning and to remove surface soil. This also prevents dirt from becoming embedded into the fibres. You can also use a brush to gently whisk the dirt away. Make sure to always use a soft bristled brush.


To be allowed in the washing machine, upholstery fabrics have to pass two tests. They must be pre-shrunk and they must be colourfast. Here’s how you carry out these tests.

The pre-shrunk test: To find out if your upholstery is pre-shrunk, the best place to look is a manufacturer’s tag. if your upholstery is not pre-shrunk, washing in the washing machine will shrink the fabric and make it impossible to have the item fit back where it belongs.

The colourfast test: To find out if your upholstery is colour fast, take a damp white cloth and rub it on the upholstered surface. if colour comes off onto the cloth, a professional will need to handle the cleaning of your furniture.


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Calling a professional

it is best to have a professional clean your upholstered furniture every couple of years or so. experts recommend having this done on a regular basis and not wait to for it to get visibly dirty.


After you have handpicked your favourite fabric, it is important to also know how to clean it. cleaning codes are provided on the fabric to guide you how to handle it. it gives the consumer information about the proper furniture cleaning methods for specific fabrics. There are four letters in the code, immediately followed by furniture cleaning instructions. The code letters are W, S, WS, and X.

S: Clean the fabric sparingly with a dry-cleaning solvent that’s water free. Test for colour fastness, use sparingly.

W: Clean fabric with a water-based solution, such as mild detergent and water or foam upholstery cleaner. avoid over wetting.

WS: Depending on the stain, use water-based solution, dry-cleaning solvent or upholstery shampoo.

X: Fabric should be professionally cleaned only. You must vacuum or brush lightly to remove any accumulation of dust, dirt and debris. Do not use cleaning solvents or water-based products on fabric.

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Feature courtesy: BBC Good Homes, UK

Kundan Shah and Rajesh Shetty  loved this.
Tara Singhgreat ideas guys!