Mother Earth Living

Naturally Clean Your Upholstery

Forget the dry cleaners and freshen your delicates at home.
By Ken Hoyt
September/October 2007
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Try these ideas for keeping your upholstery clean and fresh smelling without toxic solvents. You may find a manufacturer-supplied care label on new drapes, upholstery and slipcovers. Fabrics labeled code “W” or “WS” can be cleaned with water-based agents such as mild detergent or non-solvent-based upholstery shampoos rather than petrochemical solvents. Consider these labels when purchasing or upholstering furniture because they have the least environmental impact—and you can clean them yourself. (Code “S” and “X” fabrics require highly volatile solvents or professional dry cleaning.)

3 Upholstery Care Tips

1. Vacuum or brush furniture frequently to prevent dust and grime buildup.

2. To spot clean, make foam by whisking a tablespoon of mild soap with 1/4 cup warm water. Test the foam in an inconspicuous place. If the fabric color holds, dab the foam onto spots, but do not rub. Allow to dry completely, then vacuum thoroughly. Repeat if necessary.

3. Dust cushions with Dry Cleaning Powder (see recipe below) to freshen the fabric.

Dry Cleaning Powder

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch

1. Combine the two ingredients. Place in a shaker-top container such as a recycled baby powder container.

2. Shake a dusting onto any fabric surface you wish to freshen. Don’t over-apply, as too much powder can be time consuming to remove.

3. Leave in place 30 minutes or more. If the fabric has a heavy nap, gently brush it into the fabric.

4. Vacuum thoroughly to remove powder.

Note: Don’t add fragrant oils, which may harm the fabric.








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