Home Cleaning Tips: Furniture Steam Cleaning

Basic process for steam cleaning upholstered furniture, including tips for stain removal.

There are many advantages to using a steam cleaner to clean your furniture. For one, it is relatively easy to do and steam cleaners can be rented at your local grocery store. Steam cleaning is the easiest way to deep clean furniture because it uses vacuum like suction to remove extra water and reduce drying time. In addition, the steam and hot water kills dust mites and many common allergens that may be trapped in your furniture.

It is best to vacuum the furniture before steam cleaning to remove surface dust. Use the steam cleaner according to the directions on the machine. Store bought cleaning solutions usually work very well; just make sure you are using one specifically for steam cleaning. Also, if you are cleaning an area that has been steam cleaned before, you might want to spend a few more dollars to get some anti-foaming solution. This basically prevents extra sudsing that might occur from cleaning solution dried in the furniture from the last time it was cleaned. When cleaning, do not remove cushion or arm covers for separate cleaning because this may ruin the backing or cause shrinkage. It is a good idea to set up fans to dry your furniture once you have finished steam cleaning; this allows them to dry quickly and thoroughly, thus reducing the chances of mildewing.

Steam cleaning is easiest done with two people because most machines require regular refilling of the water reservoir. If someone is always standing by with water when the machine runs out, the process will go much faster than if you have to stop and refill each time. (This is particularly true for carpeting, but would be helpful for furniture also.)

Remember that steam cleaners do an overall and general cleaning job. They are great for dinginess and smells, but stains are more difficult to remove with a steam cleaner. If your furniture is stained, you should pre-treat the areas and try to remove the stains before steam cleaning. Again, commercial products usually work very well, but make sure you use one especially for furniture. Also, it is always best to do a test spot to make sure the cleaning product will not damage the fabric.

To remove urine or vomit stains from furniture before steam cleaning, use and oxidizing agent (such as Bio-Ox Citrus Concentrate). Blot the excess moisture with a clean cloth, then spray with Bio-Ox and let it sit for about five minutes. These products will penetrate deep into the soiled area to remove odor-causing bacteria in the furniture. Once the product has penetrated, use a clean cloth to blot the area firmly""do not rub. Continue blotting until the area is dry. At this point you can steam clean the entire piece of furniture. If there is still a smell, baking soda is a great neutralizer for odors. Simply dampen the area with clean water, sprinkle with baking soda, and rub in. Allow the baking soda to dry, then vacuum. Also, you might want to try a fabric refresher such as Febreze.

To remove ink or permanent marker, blot the area with alcohol or non-oily hairspray before steam cleaning. Permanent marker is easiest to remove when it is fresh; if you are dealing with an old stain, it may be impossible to remove it completely.

Though easily done at home, steam cleaning your furniture is a big job. Regular vacuuming of the upholstered area will keep your furniture clean longer and cut down on how often you need to steam clean.

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