Furniture Repair: Removing Stains And Marks From Household Furniture

When accidents happen, here is what you need to know to remove stains and marks left by food, drink, and other products.

Because household furniture is in constant use, it is subject to a lot of wear and tear especially when there are children around. When accidents do happen, here is what you need to know to remove stains and marks left by food, drink, and other products.

Removing Stains and Marks on Wood Furniture

Water stains, mildew, grease, ink, and cigarette burns are some of the most common stains and marks found on wood furniture. White marks indicate that water has penetrated the surface of the finish. An easy method of removing white marks is to use mayonnaise. Cover and rub the white mark with mayonnaise and leave overnight and it will magically disappear overnight.

Black spots and rings are caused by mildew and are more difficult to remove. The easiest method of removing black marks and rings is to use chlorine bleach or oxalic acid. Using either one of these will necessitate refinishing the piece, as the bleach will remove the finish as well as any marks.

To remove a mark caused by mildew, apply bleach and let stand approximately 15 minutes. Reapply if the mark is not completely gone. Let dry, and then rinse with a vinegar (acidic) and water solution to neutralize the bleach (alkaline). Be sure to cover up any areas you don't want the bleach to affect.

To remove grease stains from wood surfaces, try using a thick piece of absorbent paper as a blotter. Press a warm iron over the paper. Let cool. Repeat until the grease stain is gone. Applying mineral spirits will also work, but will remove the finish as well.

For ink stains on wood or metal try removing them with hairspray. Saturate the wood or spray the metal, blotting or wiping frequently until the ink is gone.

Cigarette burns can be removed by rubbing the spot with a polish specifically made to conceal scratch marks. Rub in the direction of the grain until the mark is gone.

Removing Stains on Upholstered Furniture

Simple stains can often be removed with a solution of water and a few drops of liquid detergent, rinsed with water and blotted dry. Some stains such as blood and make-up require more complex methods of removal. No matter what type of stain you are trying to remove, it helps to follow these general rules:

1. Always try to remove a stain right away, the longer it sets, the harder it is to remove.

2. Check labels to see if there are any instructions for cleaning.

3. Always test the stain remover in an inconspicuous place. When you blot it with a white cloth the color should not come off. If it does, the stain should be professionally cleaned.

4. When blotting stains, use a white colored material, for example cotton balls, paper towels, cotton cloth, or tissues.

5. Don't use chlorine bleach on fabrics such as silk, wool or spandex (or any fabric with stretchy fibers)

6. Don't rub the stain. Use the dab and blot technique.

7. Work from outer edge of stain into the center to avoid leaving new stains from wet marks.

8. Always use cool or lukewarm water. Hot water will set the stain.

9. If using chlorine bleach, do not allow it to stay on the fabric for more than a minute or two.

Upholstered furniture manufactured after 1969 is required to have cleaning instructions on the tag attached to the furniture you buy. The code letters on the tag indicate which cleaning method is appropriate for that particular fabric. The letter W means that the entire piece of furniture can be cleaned with a solution of water and mild detergent or an upholstery shampoo. The letter S indicates that the fabric should only be spot cleaned using a mild water-free solvent or dry cleaning product. The hybrid code letters W-S also refer to spot cleaning, by using a mild solvent, an upholstery shampoo, or a mild detergent and water solution. The letter X indicates that the fabric should be professionally cleaned and that do it your-self methods may cause the fabric to shrink or stain.

Many stains on upholstery fabrics can be removed using household products such as water, ammonia, vinegar, chlorine and non-chlorine bleach, liquid detergent, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, enzymes, or pre-soak detergents. Others (especially fat or oil based stains) may require specialized products such as glycerin, denatured alcohol, or commercially available dry cleaning solvents. Common stains can be removed from upholstery fabric using the following methods.

To remove stains from leather, first wipe up the spill, then dab with a solution of water and liquid detergent. Blot the excess. Continue until the stain is gone, and then let it air dry.

For mildew, apply an enzyme, blot, and then dab on a water and mild liquid detergent solution mixed with a little vinegar. If the stain persists, dab some bleach on the spot, and then blot again. Rinse with water and then rinse again with a solution of vinegar and water to neutralize the bleach.

Grease stains from food are often difficult to remove if not caught right away. Blot with absorbent paper towels, and then try a solution of half vinegar and half water, or use a citrus-based cleaner. If that doesn't work try the method described below for waxy or oily stains.

Waxy or oily stains from crayons, suntan lotion, make-up, and shoe polish can be removed by first applying dry cleaning solvent, then mineral oil. The next step is to use a grease remover, then apply dry cleaning solvent again. Repeat this until stain is gone. Let dry.

For protein based stains such as blood or vomit, blot the affected area, and then apply an enzyme for approximately 30 minutes. Rinse with a weak ammonia and water solution, followed by a weak vinegar and water solution. If the stain persists, dab hydrogen peroxide on the stain and rinse thoroughly with water.

To remove tea, alcoholic beverages, berries, or fruit juice stains, sponge the stain with water, then dab on a weak solution of detergent and water followed by a weak solution of vinegar and water. Rinse thoroughly with water. Next dab the stained area with rubbing alcohol and then an enzyme. Let sit for a half hour, and then rinse with water. If the stain persists, apply bleach for no more than a few minutes, and rinse with water followed by a vinegar and water solution.

Most ink or pen marks can be removed by saturating the stain with rubbing alcohol, non-aerosol hairspray, or denatured alcohol. Blot, and repeat as needed, and then rinse thoroughly with water.

Stains of unknown origin are the most difficult to remove and necessitate a comprehensive method of removal. First use a dry cleaning solvent. Dab a little mineral oil on the stain and apply dry cleaning solvent again. Continue until the stain is barely visible. Next, apply a weak solution of liquid detergent and water mixed with some ammonia. Rinse thoroughly with water and let dry. Finally dab some rubbing alcohol on the stained area. To ensure that the stain is completely gone, dab bleach on the area, and then rinse with water followed by a water and vinegar solution.

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