When you have a house full of kids and pets, it doesn't take much for furniture to look old and dingy. Dents, scratches, spills, and dust has a way of aging furniture and making it look much worse than it really is.
Fortunately, cleaning up and restoring the appearance of dingy furniture in time for the holidays really isn't that tough. All it takes is the right sort of cleaning tools and supplies and a little free time. Here's just a few pre holiday cleaning projects to get you started:
1. Clean the upholstery. One easy way to freshen up upholstered furniture is with a deep vacuuming. I use both the upholstery brush and crevice wand to vacuum not just the pillows, but also beneath the pillows, along the seams, the arms, and around the base.
To remove stains, a spot of liquid dishwashing detergent in a quart of warm water can work wonders. Dunk a clean washcloth into this solution, wring it dry, and then gently blot the stain in a circular motion until the stain is gone.
2. Apply a restorative furniture polish to wood furniture pieces. The hardware store is the best place to find a restorative furniture polish that can bring back the shine of wooden furniture. These high quality furniture polishes are also fantastic at masking unsightly scratches and will make tired old furniture look almost as good as new.
Found a water ring? Rub a bit of toothpaste (not gel) onto the ring, and gentle buff away. Follow up with some furniture polish to bring back the shine.
3. Knock off the dust from rattan. Cleaning rattan furniture starts with removing the cushions and washing them following the instructions on the tag. As far as the rattan itself, a good vacuuming with a round bristle brush attachment usually does the trick; for stubborn dust buildups, gently brush with a toothbrush.
4. Spruce up the leather chairs. Cleaning leather chairs is tricky business and it's always best to use the cleaning instructions that came with the furniture. Most newer leather can be cleaned easily with a mild moisturizing soap and water (do a test area first). For cleaning older leather furniture, a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to linseed oil is what most furniture specialists recommend. (For instructions, visit the section on "Leather Cleaning" at Mrs. CleanUSA.com).
5. Wipe fingerprints from painted surfaces. Furniture with painted surfaces should also be wiped off dust and fingerprints. I used a mild ammonia solution to clean these areas. For greasy fingerprint buildup, a drop of liquid detergent added to 1/4 cup of this ammonia water makes a terrific degreaser. f
6. Camouflage wood furniture dings. Sometimes wood furniture is so badly dinged and gouged that it may seem beyond hope. Inside of moving the end table or dresser to the garage until the holidays are over, try hiding those dings with Tibet Almond Stick Scratch remover. This product stains the exposed wood in the scratch so that gouges disappear like magic.
7. Polish up the furniture hardware. One area that is often overlooked when holiday cleaning is metal furniture hardware such as drawer pulls, knobs, and decorative hinge plates. To prevent damage to the furniture, I remove the pulls and knobs first and then clean & polish with a good metal polish. A soft, dry toothbrush can be used to brush away trapped dust around the hinges.
8. Add sparkle to glass tops. Most glass top furniture cleans up nicely with an ammonia based glass cleaner. To buff to a shine, a soft cloth and some elbow grease will do the trick.
Noticed some small surface scratches? Use a soft cloth to apply non-gel toothpaste or Brasso metal cleaner to the scratch, then buff gently until the scratch fades.
9. Shine up the table lamps. Table lamps and floor lamps come in all shapes and sizes, with each requiring different cleaning techniques. I always start by vacuuming the shade and the entire body of the lamp first using the small round brush attachment. When it comes to cleaning the lamp base itself, the right product for the material (glass cleaner, metal polish, etc.) will bring back the shine.
10. Fluff up old decorative pillows. The finishing touch is to freshen up your collection of scatter pillows. Most decorator pillows have laundering instructions on the tag, those that don't can usually be safely cleaned following the instructions in paragraph #1. To restore fluff, toss pillows in the dryer for a few minutes with a couple of tennis balls.
Adding a few new scatter pillows to the collection is a great way to introduce some different colors to your living room without spending lots of money. Red pillows or Christmas themed print pillows is an easy way to make your living room look holiday festive.