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How to Care for Living Room Chairs

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Whether your living room chairs are upholstered in leather, fabric, or microfiber, they will require some care. Each type of material has different needs. Here are a few maintenance tips to ensure your chairs will last for many years.

Leather Chair Care:

  1. Clean your leather chair regularly with a commercial leather-cleaning product, which should be available where you buy other household cleaning products. Use a soft cloth and only wipe in one direction.

  2. Vacuum behind the seat cushion regularly.

  3. Buff away light scratches with a chamois cloth.

  4. Wipe up any spills immediately to prevent marks. If a spill is not noticed right away, wipe the stain with a clean cloth lightly dampened with distilled water.

  5. Keep leather chairs out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources to prevent sun-bleaching, cracking, and brittleness.

  6. Maintain the suppleness of the leather by using a leather conditioner once or twice a year.

Fabric Chair Care:

  1. Vacuum the fabric before there is visible dirt. Once you can see the dirt, it may already be ground into the fabric.

  2. Check the manufacturer's guide to see if the particular fabric you have requires special cleaning. Most upholstery fabrics are designed to be durable and cleanable, but you may need to follow particular directions to get the longest life possible out of your chair.

  3. Use a spray treatment to protect the upholstery on your fabric chair if you are concerned about staining. These protectors don't prevent all stains, but they can give you more time to clean up a spill. Test the spray on a hidden part of the fabric before using it on the whole chair to check that it doesn't affect the color.

Microfiber Chair Care:

  1. Vacuum your microfiber chairs regularly -- at least once a week -- to avoid ground-in dirt.

  2. Test any kind of cleaner in an inconspicuous spot first. Microfiber, more than any other fabric, can be a bit unpredictable.

  3. Check the care label for either a "W" or an "S." A "W" means that you can use water to clean it. An "S" means you can only use solvents, and water would actually stain your chair.

    Follow the Microfiber Cleaning Codes:

    • Water-safe chairs: Mix a drop of mild dish soap in clean water until it is sudsy, and use a clean, white cloth to dab it onto the microfiber. To rinse it, mist the area with clean water, dab with a clean cloth, and vacuum with a wet/dry vacuum. Thorough rinsing is essential because soap left in the fabric will attract more dirt, but you'll want to avoid getting water into foam padding.

    • Non-water-safe chairs: The best solvent to use on non-water-safe microfiber is dry cleaning fluid, which you can find at most hardware stores. Follow the directions on the package, and as always, test the microfiber in a spot you won't see.

  4. Treat stubborn stains by dabbing a bit of rubbing alcohol or clear alcohol (like vodka) on the spot with a clean, white cloth. Always test the microfiber first. Aerosol hairspray is a popular option because it is mostly alcohol, but other ingredients in hairspray may be a problem for some microfiber.

  5. Dry your cleaned chair with a hair dryer on the lowest setting to avoid spotting from the cleansers.

  6. Brush the chair gently with a soft nail brush or an old toothbrush if it feels stiff in the spots where you have cleaned it.

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