When you purchase light-coloured furniture, such as the Duck Egg Blue Wingback Chair, you will be conscious of it getting dirty and losing its sheen. As much as you try to manage the antics of children and pets around your best chairs and sofas, there is always going to be times when you need to scrub it clean. You also need a way to get out that build-up of smells that comes with natural wear-and-tear.
Using abrasive chemicals on your furniture is not good for the material, nor is it stellar for the environment. Therefore, like you, we want you to get the most out of your new chair, but we also want to protect our world for future generations. Here we give you our best tips for cleaning your furniture without using any chemicals.
The first step in your conversion to chemical-free cleaning is to fill your cupboard with some natural essentials. There are a host of ingredients that you might use in other ways that will be a perfect solution to your cleaning woes.
Baking soda is a miracle product that can replace your scouring powder. First, it makes our cakes rise; we thank it for this. However, it is also a fantastic way to clean and remove odours without scratching your surfaces. The power of baking soda becomes logical when you realise it is a base ingredient of a lot of the toothpaste we buy. You can use it with a bit of water on your sinks, surfaces, tub, and your grill. It is excellent for removing odours from your drains. Pour a little down the plughole, turn on the warm tap, and it should free up any gunk.
Although you may feel your lemons are better used in your Gin and Tonic, they are also a natural bleach and deodoriser. If you take your lemon juice, dilute it with water and put it in a spray, you can use it to clean your stainless-steel items, as well as wipe down your wooden cutting boards. Also, if you spray the diluted mixture in your microwave, you can wipe it clean.
Vinegar can replace your degreasers. It is an acid, so it will eliminate your grease and combat your mould. Be aware: it is an either-or with baking soda. It is an exciting chemistry lesson to do with young children, as the vinegar causes the baking soda to expand. However, this is not so good on your surfaces, as you end up with a bigger mess than you started with.
The miracle of vinegar goes further, as it can replace your disinfectant, de-scaler, and combat some of your stains. You should use vinegar anywhere where you expect to suffer from mineral build-ups, such as your toilet or the tiles in the bathroom. You can also use it to remove stains from coffee cups and pots.
If you are worried that this will leave a lingering odour, mix in some essential oils with the vinegar for a perfuming effect.
Olive Oil can replace your wood polish. It only works on wood that is sealed; else the oil will be absorbed. However, on sealed surfaces, it can get an intense shine with a small amount of oil and a soft cloth. Also, it will do wonders getting the grime off an iron skillet – with some hard work with a stiff brush too.
Many of the other products listed here work so much better if you add a touch of salt to the mix. The salt is abrasive and will create friction to remove dirt. So, if you add salt to your olive oil, then your iron skillet will be cleaner with half the effort. The same when using vinegar – spray your oven with vinegar then sprinkle on some salt. Leave the mix for a while, and come back with a cloth, and the grime will lift away.
Although miracle products by themselves, if you learn to combine these household staples together, you can create some wonder cleaning materials. Here is some of the best alchemy wisdom collected by our team, helping you to work magic on your furniture.
You can sprinkle baking soda on your sofa and leave it to marinate for a while. By marinating we mean absorb all the smelly stuff out of the fabric. This will take a decent number of hours. But, later in the day, you can vacuum that baking soda away, and much of the negative odour will be lifted away too.
However, most of us do not have the time or patience to start a cleaning job in the morning that we then have to finish in the evening. So, grab yourself a spray bottle and fill it with:
2-3 tablespoons of baking soda
A few drops of scented oil, e.g. rose oil is lovely for the living room
Fill the container with warm water.
Once you have filled the bottle with your ingredients, shake vigorously. You need to shake for much longer than it feels comfortable, as you want the baking soda to dissolve and mesh with the other ingredients. Then, spray your upholstery. The mixture will soak in a little, meaning it will work quicker. The scented oil will work to mask the smell while the odour-eater gets to work. You will still have to vacuum the sofa later to remove any residue of baking soda – but people can even visit you while it is working, e.g. you can do it as a last-minute chore before your mum comes round and get away with!
If the smells and stains are ground into your upholstery and carpets, then you are going to need a more serious solution to get the job done. You will need some liquid soap, about half a tablespoon. There are many natural liquid soaps you can purchase to add some oomph to this mix. As well as the liquid soap, you need a quarter of a cup of white vinegar and ¾ cup of water.
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray this mixed solution onto your fabrics and rub. You should use a brush and a circular motion for the best effect. Once you have done the whole furniture/ carpet surface, you will need to switch over to clean water and keep rubbing until the suds are gone.
This is not to be used on delicate fabrics, as vinegar is acidic and so can be abrasive to some materials. You are looking to use this vinegar solution on durable fabrics, such as those found on most sofas. You might want to do a spot check first, before attacking the whole furniture.
If you have stains that you need to remove, then you should add one cup of rubbing alcohol to one cup of white vinegar.
It is fine to admit that you love the idea of all these tips, but you don’t have the time or inclination to be mixing up your cleaning products. Fortunately, the industry has leapt on the need for green products and offer quite a reasonable range. It is more than acceptable to go out and buy in these more natural products – there is no need to feel any more pressure than needed. Here is how you can make some changes without having to revolutionise your choices.
Non-toxic: when looking to buy soaps, look for the words “non-toxic” on the label. There is the Enviro-One Natural Soap that can give the option to clean without chemicals. Castile soap is another alternative. The keywords are non-toxic though, as there is no official meaning carried by the terms all-natural, eco-friendly or green.
Microfiber cloths: rather than using any form of chemicals, you could purchase microfiber cloths. These will help to capture particles on surfaces, ornaments, decorations and other accessories. If you can keep these additional items free from dust, you will reduce the need to use chemicals on the furniture.
Tea Tree and Borax: these are two natural cleaning ingredients you can use that are better than more processed and manufactured materials. You can use tea tree on your surfaces, and Borax as a replacement for laundry detergent. Be aware that both substances are toxic if ingested, so you need to keep them away from children and animals.
Now you are fully briefed on the types of cleaning products you can use, here are some tips for using them effectively.
One: Make sure you do a spot test before committing to cleaning the whole sofa or other large furniture items. Make sure the material is robust enough to cope with the chosen natural cleaning product.
Two: Be sparing with the cleaner, as it is easier to add more than it is to take some away. Start with a small amount of solution and work gradually across the surface of the furniture.
Three: If cleaning your upholstery, cover your flooring. You do not want to spend even more time cleaning your carpet of the material you just took off your sofa, for instance!
Four: Separate the parts of the furniture if possible. The way you treat the wood in a chair would be different from how you handle the fabric. It may be possible to take off the cover and so protect each part from cleaning materials that could do more harm than good.
Five: The cleaning tool is often as important as the cleaning material. Try different options, whether it is brush, a rag, a microfiber cloth, or other. It is best to work in a circular motion rather than scrubbing too hard backwards and forwards.
Six: Give some time for the cleaning material to work on your furniture. It will need time to work before you start scrubbing. Give it a dwell time of about 10 minutes before you start working at it.
Seven: Vacuum your furniture before you start cleaning. Then, when the cleaning is done and the furniture dry, vacuum it again.
We all would like to do our bit. Anything we can do to prevent toxic, processed materials getting into the environment the better. We may only be one person – but the world is made up of 8 billion people all thinking they are just one. It is possible to clean our homes using everyday products we can find in our kitchen. They are just as effective, but cheaper – they also do not cost the earth.
Edward is the managing director of Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs. He is an expert in quality, comfortable upholstered chairs.