6 tips to keep wood, vinyl and leather furniture clean

June 30, 2015

Our furniture sometimes gets lots of traffic — and sadly, looks it. These great tips will help your wood, vinyl and leather furniture look fresh and clean for years to come.

6 tips to keep wood, vinyl and leather furniture clean

1. Homemade wood polish

A simple polish made from two kitchen staples will leave wooden furniture with a nice shine and pleasant smell. Combine 625 millilitres (2.5 cups) of vegetable oil with 350 millilitres (1.5 cups) of lemon juice, mix well, then pour the solution into a 500 millilitre (16-ounce) spray bottle. Spray on finished wooden surfaces and polish with a soft cloth. Because the polish contains lemon juice, you'll have to store it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to six months. Non-hydrogenated oil won't congeal, so the polish will never need "thawing" before it can be used.

2. Vinyl solution

Though vinyl upholstery is durable, it has a weakness — body and hair oil can cause it to harden and even crack. To keep vinyl-covered furniture in good shape, clean it regularly, especially when it gets a lot of use. Dampen a cloth in water, dip it in white vinegar and gently wipe the vinyl surfaces to cut through oils. Now add a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid to a bucket of water, stir well and wash the vinyl with a soft cloth dipped into the soapy water. Rinse with a damp cloth and dry.

3. Stubborn stains

To remove stubborn marks from vinyl furniture (tablecloths, too), try rubbing the stain with a cloth dipped in milk. (Whether the milk is one percent, two percent or whole doesn't matter.) Then wash with soapy water as directed above and dry.

4. Paper towel fix

Whether someone was smoking on the sly or accidentally dropped a match on your fancy jacquard chair is irrelevant: You've now got an expensive repair to deal with. Don't despair! You may be able to blot out the char with paper towels. Wet a paper towel with distilled water and dab it on the mark (don't rub). Now blot it with a dry paper towel. If that doesn't work, put a drop of mild liquid laundry detergent on a wet paper towel and treat the spot. After a minute or two, blot up the detergent with a wet paper towel and then blot the area one last time with a dry one.

5. Stains on leather be gone!

Though leather is hard to stain, it can easily sustain watermarks. Just wipe these away with white vinegar — but only after testing on an out-of-sight area of the upholstery. To get rid of scuff marks, rub them with a pencil eraser.

6. Saddle soap

If you're lucky enough to own a sofa or club chair made of heavier saddle leather, take care of it not with expensive and fancy leather cleaners, but with old-fashioned saddle soap or baseball mitt softener. Treat once or twice a year, depending on how dry or humid your home is.

You guests will comment on how new your furniture looks — only you'll know you've had the same sofa set for ages, but keep it looking great with these handy homemade cleaning solutions.

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