After you’ve purchased the furniture of your dreams, you’ll want to take every precaution you can to keep it looking its best for many years to come. These product care tips come from Protection 1st, which offers a protection plan that ensures your purchase past the warranty deadline.

Avoid direct sunlight and extreme temperature changes. Sunlight can fade wood finishes, leather, and upholstery fabric, so protecting your furniture with blinds and drapes during the day will help your furniture last longer. Also, high temperatures will cause wood furniture to warp and bend, and it will make leather and fabric dry and brittle. Avoid placing furniture too close to a heating vent whenever possible.

Caring for Upholstered Furniture

To protect upholstered furniture, be sure to clean the furniture on a weekly basis by vacuuming both the cushions and under them. To prevent upholstery from becoming wrinkled or flattened, you should fluff and rotate the cushions regularly to help slow wear and to ensure that any wear is uniform.

If more drastic spot cleaning is necessary, be sure to follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s tag. The tag uses codes to tell you what cleaning methods are recommended. As with most spills it is important to clean them as soon as possible to prevent the stain from setting. Listed below are the codes currently used by the upholstery industry:

W: Vacuuming and light dusting recommended. You can spot-clean by using only the foam from a water-based cleaner (mild detergents or non-solvent upholstery shampoo). Spot test in an unobtrusive area; apply foam with a circular motion and a soft brush.

S: Vacuuming and light dusting recommended. You can spot-clean with water-free solvent or dry-cleaning solution. Must clean in a well-ventilated room and avoid any cleaning product with carbon tetrachloride. Spot test in an unobtrusive area.

Should be cleaned by professional furniture cleaning service.

W-S: Vacuuming and light dusting recommended. You can spot-clean with a mild solvent, upholstery shampoo or with the foam from a water-based cleaner. If using a solvent or dry-cleaning product, follow the directions carefully and use only in a well-ventilated room. Avoid any cleaning product with carbon tetrachloride. Spot test in an unobtrusive area.

X: Clean only by vacuuming and light dusting. Water and solvent cleaners may cause extreme shrinking, stains or disrupt the surface appearance.

Caring for Leather Furniture

If properly cared for and treated, quality leather furniture can last upwards of 15-20 years. When shopping for leather furniture, ask your sales representative whether the leather has been “corrected” or “uncorrected.” Corrected leather may have been sanded or buffed to erase imperfections in the animal hide, and is then usually dyed and embossed to produce a uniform grain. A urethane finish is then applied to protect it. While these leathers aren’t considered premium, they are the most stain resistant and therefore are more family friendly. Uncorrected leather is already in very good condition and therefore requires no buffing or sanding. These hides will showcase natural variations and each piece will have its own unique patina.

Because of leather’s tendency to absorb other dyes, you should avoid placing other printed materials on leather that can transfer and leave a stain. Also, you should follow a simple cleaning schedule and use a clean white cloth to dust every week or two to prevent buildup of regular household soil. If any soil does accumulate, use a damp, soft white cloth to wipe the leather surface clean. But before you apply any moisture to the leather, be sure to place a few drops of water in an inconspicuous spot to make sure the leather doesn’t absorb it. If the leather does absorb water, use only dry cloths. The final step in caring for your leather furniture is to clean every 5-6 months with a mild leather cleaner. After cleaning, apply a protective leather cream to keep it soft and supple.

Caring for Wood Furniture

Due to the damage done by sunlight to wood finishes, constant exposure to direct sunlight can cause dark woods to bleach while lighter colors may darken. The finish may even begin to crack and peel. Try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.

Some rubber lamps bases, cords and some plastics can harm the finish of a piece if left in place for an extended period of time. The best solution is to place a piece of felt or leather between the object and the surface to lessen the chance of damage.

The finish on a wood will affect how likely it is to be harmed by liquids, like glasses coated in condensation that are placed on its surface. You should always use a coaster or other insulator between your glass and the wooden surface because water can leave white marks or cause damage to the finish that has to be professionally repaired.

As with any furniture it is important to clean and maintain your piece. You should dust the piece regularly, but here are some additional tips based on the type of finish you have.

1.     Polyurethane finishes are relatively simply to care for and are often more water resistant than other finishes. To care for these finishes simply wipe down with a damp cloth periodically, then wipe dry.

2.     Shellac finishes are very sensitive to water and can become sticky if exposed to an extremely humid environment. Because of this you should either dust or vacuum furniture with this finish, while avoiding oil or damp furniture polishes.

3.     Painted finishes should only be cleaned with a mild soap and water on a damp cloth and then immediately blotted dry. Stripping and refinishing is an option you can consider but should only be considered if there is no other choice to repair the surface of the piece.

4.     If your piece has an oil finish you should check with the manufacturer regarding suggested care. With a lacquer finish you should wax it once a year early on. As the piece ages you will see that it needs waxed less often because of the buildup from past waxings. You can wax as needed, it doesn’t need to be each year because waxing can restore shine and help protect your piece.

Any minor damage such as scratches or marks can be touched up with touch up sticks or scratch removers that can be found in many furniture or hardware stores.

These home remedies can also help with day-to-day wear on your wood furniture:


Buying Furniture with Young Children:

When you decided to have children, you probably didn’t realize you were signing yourself up to test your furniture against fruit punch, food spills, scraped knees, painted fingers, crayons, markers and other contemptible accidents. Sure, our grandmothers may have made their sofas last a few generations by protecting them with plastic covers, but who really wants to curl up on that at the end of the day? So what’s a parent to do? Are you doomed to suffer the destruction years with unsightly furniture, or are there furniture options that can hold up against the unnecessary roughness? Fabrics have come a long way in the last several years, and it’s a good thing too, since upholstered furniture seems to take the brunt of kids’ growing years. Two things to consider before buying are the Fabric Wearability Code and the fabric’s cleanability code.

Fabric Wearability

The Fabric Wearability Code is the government’s standard guide that indicates if a fabric is strong enough for your needs. You can find fabric wearability codes on manufacturers’ swatch samples at your furniture store. If you can’t find it, just ask a salesperson to help you. The standards for fabrics’ wearability are as follows:

Heavy Duty (HD) – If a fabric holds up to more than 15,000 double rubs it is classified as heavy duty. It will be stiffer and thicker than most fabrics, but there are some incredible new blends in this rating that seem to belie it because they are supple and soft enough. This would be a good choice for family room furniture.

Medium Duty (MD) – Medium duty fabric can withstand 9,000 to15,000 double rubs. The closer the fabrics get to 15,000 the stiffer they are. Medium duty fabrics are versatile and can be used for many purposes, and in family rooms as well as living rooms.

Light Duty (LD) – A fabric that can take anywhere between 3,000 to 9,000 double rubs, is classified as light duty fabric. These fabrics can withstand one to three years of regular use and are generally very delicate. They are suitable for pieces that get only occasional use, such as sofas that only get used when guests arrive, or an occasional chair that is used more for its looks than any function.

Delicate Duty (DD) – Delicate duty fabrics with 3,000 double should only be used on furniture that is purely decorative, or in pillows.

Fabric Cleanability

Knowing the cleanability code for your fabric helps you make smart decisions by knowing how you are able to care for and clean your upholstered piece. You will either find the code on the manufacturer’s label, or you can ask for it when you are selecting fabric for your sofa. Obviously, if cleanability is a huge issue for you, then you’ll want a fabric that gives you the most options for getting out stains. See the cleaning codes above.

Think Low-Maintenance and Well-Made

Whatever decorating style you choose, low-maintenance is a must. But low-maintenance doesn’t have to look cheap – think well made, durable, and easy to clean. For upholstery, leather sometimes seems like a luxury, but it’s actually very durable – it wipes clean and ages beautifully (as long as no permanent markers are involved). For fabrics, you’ll want something that is soft, but also washable. Choose those with a flat weave, which will hold up better than lightweight or looped fabrics. Easy-care, practically stain-proof choices include vinyl, “pleather,” ultrasuede, twill, denim, velvet, wool, felt, and other natural fabrics with a touch of synthetic fiber woven in for added toughness.

Be sure to buy the best furniture you can afford. It may seem paradoxical, but when you have children it makes sense to buy the best-made furniture you can afford because it will last longer. When purchasing upholstery, be sure to invest in the stain-resistant finish, or consider a sofa with washable slipcovers or zip-off cushion covers. And as a general maintenance rule, regularly clean your fabrics by vacuuming or light brushing. There’s no rule that says your style has to suffer just because you have kids. With today’s fabrics and leather options, it’s more than possible to put together roomfuls of furniture that can stand up to an active family life and still look fabulous!

Invest in Extra Protection

One of the best ways to take care of your furniture is to purchase a protection plan, like Protection 1st. It picks up where the manufacturer’s warranty leaves off. Manufacturers warranty against defects, but a protection plan can help you take care of accidental stains and damage. Stains caused by food, pets, cosmetics or ink are covered for cleaning when a plan is purchased. Damage in the form of punctures, tears or burns can also be repaired under such a plan. Some exclusions may apply, but a protection plan will help ensure the value of your investment nonetheless.