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Natural Furniture Care

Keep wood, leather and upholstery looking their best with these tips.

| May/June 2017

  • Moisturize leather upholstery with a homemade lotion to help it stand up to everyday use.
    Photo by iStock/Manuel-F-O
  • Baking soda and corn starch can be used to freshen fabric upholstery.
    Photo by iStock/TomekD76
  • Create a homemade cleaner from coconut oil, vinegar and lemon juice to keep wood looking great.
    Photo by BanksPhotos

Maximizing the lifespan of favorite pieces of furniture, and keeping them looking good, is no easy task. The presence of toxins in many commercially produced cleaning products makes a tough job even tougher. According to the Environmental Working Group, fumes from some cleaning products can induce asthma, and may include low levels of cancer-causing substances such as 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde. While it is possible to seek out clean alternatives (see Truly Clean Cleaners), it’s also easy to create natural cleaners yourself that keep wood, fabric and leather in tip-top condition, without exposure to dangerous chemicals. Here are a few simple recipes and tips:

Leather

Leather, like skin, benefits from regular moisturizing. Well-treated leather will withstand its fair share of wear and tear. Try this recipe for leather lotion to help leather upholstery stand up to the rigors of everyday use:

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/2 cup white vinegar
• 1 to 2 drops food-grade orange oil

To use: Place ingredients in a glass jar with lid and shake. Apply the mixture to leather with a soft, clean microfiber cloth one small area at a time, and buff until the surface dries. Always do a test spot in an inconspicuous location before using leather conditioner all over a piece of furniture.



Upholstery

It’s a good idea to vacuum or brush upholstered furniture (for example, couch or chair cushions) regularly to keep dirt from getting ground in. Manufacturer-supplied care labels can also provide tips on how to clean upholstery — fabrics labeled code “w” or “ws” can be cleaned with water-based agents such as mild detergents or nonsolvent-based shampoos. Code “s” and “x” fabrics require volatile solvents or dry cleaning. Instead of employing dry cleaning chemicals, try this DIY method to freshen your fabric:

• 1/2 cup baking soda
• 1/2 cup cornstarch



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