WE GET IT: CLEANING ISN’T THE MOST EXCITING THING IN THE WORLD.
If you’re not already in the habit of cleaning your furniture regularly, the prospect of adding another task to your list of things you do not want to do is a hard ask. It’s much easier being lazy—well, at least in the short term.
In the long term, neglecting to spend a few minutes cleaning your furniture every now and then is going to cost you a lot of money unnecessarily. Dining tables which could’ve lasted longer than you may crack and split in ways which leave you no choice but to replace them. Add to that the guilty conscience of contributing to the global waste crisis, and all of a sudden a little bit of time and elbow grease doesn’t seem so bad!
We’re not going to pretend that cleaning is fun (but if that’s what you think, more power to you). Rather, in this blog we’re going to give you an overview of tips and tricks to clean your furniture and get the most bang for your buck. We’ve organised it into general tips, then some specific tips for fabric, timber, and natural stone furniture, so feel free to skip around to find what you need.
GENERAL TIPS FOR CARING FOR FURNITURE
Always talk to the salesperson about how to care for any piece of furniture you buy. You’ll want to know what products to use when, where, how, and when to call in professionals for cleaning and maintenance (e.g. dry-cleaning).
If you’ve bought your furniture online (which more of us are doing these days), there should be cleaning and maintenance information attached to the product you’ve bought. All of our furniture products, for example, have links to brochures which give you an overview of the product and how to care for it.
Then comes the bit involving time and effort: forming good furniture-cleaning habits. We here have the most success by thinking of furniture cleaning as an activity inseparable from other housework (like vacuuming, mopping, cleaning glass, etc), and so we do it at the same time. It adds a few minutes to our routine but by this point we do it almost unthinkingly, and our furniture stays in top condition.
Oh, and make sure you tighten your screws and bolts regularly. Having furniture spontaneously come apart is no fun.
Prevention is the best cure, right? For any fabric furniture or accessories you might have (e.g. sofas, armchairs, upholstered dining chairs, bed headboards and frames, cushions, and so on), we recommend using Guardsman fabric protection at the time of purchase. It comes in three different sizes: mono (perfect for a new armchair), single (perfect for a new ordinary sofa) and multiple (which you’ll need for something like a fabric bed frame). When applied correctly, it protects your fabric furniture against all accidental stains and damage, and comes with a five-year warranty.
If the preventive solution you want is for outdoor fabrics (including things like umbrellas and hammocks), Guardsman’s Weather Defence fabric protector will do the trick.
For those looking for a post-stain solution—and trust us, it happens to the best of us at some point—Warwick's Halo Fabric Spot Cleaner is really the best way to go. It works like magic to remove most small stains, but if you’ve got a larger or more serious stain then professional cleaning is a must. That said, you should have your fabric furniture cleaned by a professional once a year anyway.
While these fabric cleaning solutions sound pretty serious, most of your cleaning and maintenance work will be low-effort and common-sense. Giving your fabric a quick vacuum on a low-suction setting once a week or fortnight will do much to keep your furniture in top condition. And to minimise pilling, discolouring and fading (which, by the way, will happen regardless of what you do), keep your fabrics away from sunlight, heating, and fumes coming from sources such as chimneys and cigarettes.
SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TIMBER
When thinking about timber furniture, it’s useful to compare it to skincare. Dry timber, like dry skin, is obvious to see and feel, and needs moisturiser lest it cracks and splits. Meanwhile, if your timber is quite oily—most likely after you’ve just applied orange oil to it—you’ve got to take care not to apply too much product lest you’re left with a residue which feels gross to touch and leaves oily marks on things.
Generally speaking, timber is dry and dries more over time. This is particularly so for reclaimed timber, which many of our collections are made of. As such, it’s important that you “feed” the timber for nourishment and to enhance the look of your furniture (and to do so all the time, not just for special occasions!).
Our recommended product line is Howard. For 50 years, Howard Products have been developing non-harmful, natural and low chemical content products which are free from nasties like ammonia, spirits, and silicone—a.k.a., they’re tried and true, kid-friendly, and they smell nice!
For general maintenance of varnished and natural timber products, there are fewer products more useful than Howard’s Orange Oil. Just spray or apply to a clean cloth and wipe away. Bonus: you can also use it to clean your kitchen benches and stainless steel at the same time. Being orange oil, though, it does have a strong citrusy scent. You won’t need to light a candle for a while!
Every now and then (or if your timber has some more serious blemishes), you should apply Feed-N-Wax or Wood Conditioner to restore your furniture more fully. Note: you CANNOT use these two products on painted timber surfaces, such as the signature ivory wash of our two-tone collections like the Byron and Tuscan. For these, you’ll want to use Clean-A-Finish only.
RESTORING YOUR TIMBER’S FINISH
If you want to restore the finish of your timber, your best bet is (funnily enough) Restor-A-Finish. Gone are the days where you have to strip and re-varnish all of your dining chairs! Now, all you need to do is pour some Restor-A-Finish into a clean white cloth (or superfine steel wool for tougher jobs) and rub it into the surface of your timber furniture. We stock it in mahogany, neutral, cherry, golden oak, dark walnut, and ordinary walnut, which covers most timber finishes. Note: as a wash, the Restor-A-Finish works by filling in an existing base colour. Don’t treat it like a paint!
DISGUISING SCRATCHES, GOUGES, ETC.
Should your timber furniture suffer minor damage—say, if your kids decide it’s a good idea to scrape the corner of a metal ruler along one of your timber tabletops—we recommend you fill it in with a Millers Scratch Fix Pen. This range comes in light, medium, and dark browns to blend with most furniture stains, and are tried and true, easy solutions that we trust, love, and recommend to all of our customers.
We’ve saved the easiest for last! If your furniture is made of (or has some component made of) granite, marble, or other natural stone, your best bet is simply Howard’s Granite and Marble Cleaner. You’ll never look back.
In summary, we stress once again that your best point of contact is our team members, or the brochure on the website if you’re looking for a refresher about your particular product. If you’re still stuck, please feel free to send a message to us via Facebook or Instagram, or contact our Head Office directly.