Fabrics & Furnishings
UpholsteryStep 1: Check the care tag. If there’s a “W” on it, upholstery can be cleaned. (If not, consult a pro.) Add two capfuls of Woolite or a neutral-pH dish soap to a bucket of cool water. Dip in a sponge, wring it out well, then rub a thin layer of the solution onto each cushion, starting with the dirtiest side.
Step 2: Balance the cushions against one another or a wall to dry. Put colorfast towels or white paper towels between points where pieces touch, leaving as much surface area as possible exposed to the air.
Step 3: Clean the body of the sofa or chair, wringing the sponge out well so you’re using as little liquid as possible. To prevent mildew growth, let all the pieces air-dry completely before reassembling.
Fabric Lamp ShadesStep 1: Make sure your shade is fabric. Velvet and silk need professional care. Gently roll the shade from side to side in a bathtub filled with a few inches of lukewarm water and two capfuls of Woolite, suggests Connie Rakower of New York City’s Just Shades. Use a sponge or a rag to distribute the solution evenly over the shade.
Step 2: Run a damp cloth or a sponge over the shade inside and out to rinse off the solution, then blot gently with a colorfast towel (droplets can leave water spots).
Step 3: Set the shade on its bottom rim on a clean towel placed on a flat surface and let it dry. Reaffix it to the lamp―and see things in a new light.
MattressesStep 1: Wash your mattress pad in hot water every two months. (If you don’t have one, you should get one. Mattress pads, especially the antiallergenic variety, significantly inhibit mites’ proliferation.)
Step 2: Use your vacuum’s wand or upholstery attachment to carefully go over the entire surface of the mattress, paying special attention to indented or buttoned areas, where dust lodges.
Step 3: Every other time you vacuum the mattress, flip it over and rotate it so the head moves to the foot. And vacuum newly exposed sides, too. This cuts down on uneven wear and helps keep mites at bay.
RugsStep 1: Place the rug facedown on an old (clean) sheet and vacuum thoroughly; if your vacuum has a beater bar, flip it to the lowest setting. Turn the rug over and vacuum the top side.
Step 2: Using a sponge or a clean towel dampened with plain water, gently blot dirty areas several times. Alternate with a dry towel to keep moisture to a minimum.
Step 3: Work carefully over the damp areas with a soft, clean carpet brush to raise the pile and expose the fibers to the air. The agitation dries them and lifts any remaining dirt.