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How to Care for Four Popular Types of Furniture

New furniture is a significant investment. You want to be able to enjoy your home comfortably and you want your furniture to keep its fresh, new look. Here are a few tips to cleaning and caring for your new furniture to ensure it has a long life.


Wood furniture does best in low humidity and away from heat or air conditioning vents. Ultraviolet and fluorescent light can cause chemical changes in the wood or finish. 

Clean: Avoid using all-purpose cleaners or harsh chemicals like bleach or alcohol unless your wood furniture has a plastic coating. These are bad for the environment and may damage, stain, or strip the finish from your furniture. 

A soft cloth dampened in warm, soapy water is usually enough to wipe away dirt and grime. Wring the cloth until nearly dry then clean the areas. Make sure to turn the cloth over frequently for a clean side to avoid rubbing dirt into the furniture. Immediately wipe everything dry with a clean, dry cloth.

Lamb’s wool dusters have lanolin in them, which trap dust and are ideal for dusting carved or turned wood items.

Polishes and Furniture Oils: These products protect wood but do not create a protective sealant. Use them sparingly, rubbing a small amount into the wood, working with the grain. 

Commercial sprays and liquid furniture polishes often contain silicone oils, which will offer some protection. However, most products that contain a lot of oil will allow fingerprints to show easily, leave a residue, or trap dust.

Furniture wax: Wax creates a hard finish and does not smear. It is more durable than sprays or furniture polishes. Wax can offer protection for anywhere from a few months to a few years. 

Spills and Care: Wipe up spills quickly as liquids can stain or damage wood surfaces. Many furniture stores carry wood-repair kits for dealing with minor scratches and damages. 


Most fabrics are prone to fading. Protect upholstery from direct sunlight. Vacuum upholstery frequently and flip cushions and pillows regularly to make sure both sides wear evenly. 

Spills: When spills do occur, blot the spill as quickly as possible. Avoid rubbing and spreading the liquid and stay away from colored towels or printed paper towels when cleaning upholstery. Some of the dye may transfer to the fabric. 

Club soda is useful for general stain removal. Dab the stain with a clean cloth. Another household cleaning item is vinegar. Put a little on the stain and let sit for about 15 minutes then clean it with water and a clean rag. 

Cleaning: Most upholstered furniture has a care instruction label attached. Be sure to read it carefully before using any cleaning products. Always test cleaners in an inconspicuous spot. 

Avoid soaking the fabric with upholstery cleaner and be sure to remove all soap residues as this will attract and trap dirt. 

Applying Scotchguard or silicon-based soil retardant to upholstery will help guard against stains and spills. 

Most furniture manufacturers recommend using a professional upholstery cleaning service once every 1-2 years to help prolong the life of your furniture.  The tips provided here will keep your furniture clean in between those cleanings.


Since leather is a natural product, aging brings out its natural patina and adds beauty and character over time. Leather “wears in” while fabrics “wear out”.

Everyday Care: Leather can dry out and crack. Keep leather furniture out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Use a damp cloth to clean leather regularly. A vacuum removes dust and crumbs from seams and crevices. 

Wipe up spots and spills quickly with a clean cloth or sponge. Use a damp cloth and warm water to clean any sticky spots and let the area dry. Be sure to avoid soaking the area with water as this will cause more damage. 

Minor scratches can be buffed out with your fingers or a chamois. 

Deep Cleaning: Every 6 to 12 months, deep clean and condition the leather. Avoid using soap, detergent, or chemicals. Make a solution of ¼ cup white vinegar and ½ cup warm water. Use a soft cloth to wipe the leather furniture clean. 

Afterward, use a saddle soap or a leather conditioner product to treat the leather. Never use polish, wax, or oil cleaners on your leather furniture. 


Wicker is beautiful but the tight weave makes cleaning and care a little difficult. Wicker is a natural fiber and tends to dry. Keep wicker and cane furniture out of direct sunlight and away from heat and cooling vents. 

Everyday Care: Dust often and use a vacuum to clean in the cracks and folds. Cover outdoor wicker furniture when it’s not being used to prevent fading. For hard to reach crevices, use compressed air to blow out dirt and dust or a toothbrush to scrub hard-to-reach places. 

Resin wicker is less vulnerable to rot and splintering. Soap and water is usually all that is needed for regular cleaning. 

To clean bamboo, rattan, or willow wicker, brush or vacuum as much of the furniture as possible. Use a soft brush and warm, soapy water for deeper cleaning. If necessary, add one or two tablespoons of ammonia to the soapy water.

Wicker made of paper or twisted grass is more fragile. Simply clean it with a damp rag, being careful not to saturate the wicker. 

Prevent Mildew: Wicker is susceptible to mildew. Make sure wicker pieces dry completely after cleaning by placing them in the sun or in front of a fan. 

Murphy Oil or another mild, oil-based soap diluted with water will remove mildew. However, avoid sitting in wicker chairs for a few days to prevent oil stains on your clothes. 

Using these simple cleaning methods regularly will keep your furniture looking clean and new and allow you to enjoy your investment for years to come. 

This post's content was provided by ServiceMaster.


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