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Not having the children sit down at the table for snacks fits in with the relaxed approach to child rearing that we have taken so far, but has resulted in some very colourful stains all over the house. Stains seem to always go brown in the end so I am anticipating a completely brown house by the time the kids grow up and leave home. The sofa and chairs come in for the most amount of food-abuse as they are favourite spots for watching baby-voiced psychedelic cartoons and canned laughter tv shows. As I’m not a fan of doilies on the sofas like my friend’s mum had in the 70’s (she had a plastic hall runner as well), we found ourselves with a multi-coloured sofa that bears no resemblance to the lovely piece of furniture which, some years ago, we bought intending it to last. Here is how I restored it to somewhere near its former glory:
1 – The sofa needs to be dust and dirt free before you can start on the stains. Use the vacuum cleaner with the nozzle rather than brush, which will just rub the dirt deeper in to the fabric, and remove all crumbs and dust particles. Dust particles can cause damage to upholstery so this is a once a month job for everyone, but a minimum of once per week if you, like me, allow your children to eat snacks on the sofa. Loose dirt, hair and food crumbs could also be removed with sellotape or a lint roller.
2 – Patch test an unseen area of the sofa with your choice of cleaner to make sure that there will be no visible damage to the fabric.
3 – Sticky stains need to be treated with a soft but abrasive sponge. Use a foamy-type of cleaner – it is important not to wet the sofa too much and to ruin the upholstery foam – and with gentle circular motions apply to the sticky patch. If it is only a spot, then baby-wipes might do the trick if caught immediately.
4 – Dried in liquids such as milk or yoghurt are best caught earlier as both can smell as they sour. These will require a slightly more liquid solution – you can use watered down carpet cleaner – and a sponge or soft cloth. Avoid soaking through the fabric.
5 – Both ‘3’ and ‘4’ type stains, after cleaning, need to be wiped over with a sponge dampened with water to remove residues of cleaner.
6 – Allow to dry naturally. You can use a fan, but I don’t advise a hair-dryer as you could end up with a stiffened patch of fabric.
7 – If all else fails and it’s necessary to reupholster your sofa, you can find other – cheaper – options than getting your sofa reupholstered by professionals. Companies like www.upholsteryfoam.co.uk offer foam cut to size that can be covered with fabric to match your sofa – perhaps you could just choose brown! You can decide to recover the whole piece of furniture in order for the fabric to match perfectly, or go for a contrasting colour or a pattern with some complimentary colours in it.
8 – Impose a ban on snacks on the sofa!