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How to Remove Stubborn Stains from Furniture

Last Updated Apr 11, 2011 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

Your furniture is one of the most expensive purchases that you make for your home so it’s only natural that you want to keep it looking as good as possible. 

Unfortunately, just through everyday use it can have stuff spilled on it, causing stains that can be very difficult to get out. 

Don’t despair however as we’ve put together a guide to help you remove those stubborn stains from your furniture. Read on for more.

Removing Stubborn Stains from Upholstery

  1. The first step in removing the stain is to blot the excess stain and not soak it. 

  2. Next, you need to determine exactly what type of stain it is so you know the best way to get rid of it.  If it is a greasy stain, blot on a bit of rubbing alcohol or dry cleaning fluid. Keep doing this until there is no more transfer of the stain onto a clean white cloth or paper towel. 

  3. The next step is to use dishwashing liquid and water to blot the stain, starting from the outside and working your way in.

  4. If it is a makeup stain, use a bit of rubbing alcohol or dry cleaning fluid on the stain and blot it dry straightaway.  If it is still there, use vinegar and warm water on the stain and then blot dry straight away.

  5. If it is an ink stain, use rubbing alcohol on the stain and then dry the fabric. Keep doing this until the stain is removed and then use white vinegar and warm water to “rinse” and then blot the fabric dry again.

  6. For other stains such as juice, wine or tomato sauce, wet the fabric and allow to soak for one minute. Blot the area dry with a paper towel. Repeat the process until the paper towel is clean.  Next use dishwashing liquid and warm water on the stain until no stain can be seen on the paper towel.  Finally, use club soda or tonic water on the stain.

No matter what type of stain it is, after following the stain removal process specific to your type of stain, blot warm water on to the area and dry with a paper towel. You then brush the area dry with a clean towel.

Removing Stubborn Stains from Wood Furniture

It can be difficult to remove some stains from wood furniture such as water marks and heat marks. Here are some tips: 

  1. Water marks can be removed by using toothpaste rubbed in a circular motion over the stain with a clean damp cloth. Use another clean damp cloth to remove all toothpaste reside and then polish your timber as usual. 

  2. If you’re worried that polish will affect the finish, use extra fine steel wool to remove the mark and then polish or wax as usual. 

  3. Heat marks can be removed using extra fine steel wool rubbed along the grain of the wood until the mark is gone, and then wax and polish as usual. 

  4. Beverage stains such as milk and alcohol can be removed by using ammonia to lift the stain, and then rubbing some paste wax into the area with your finger. You can then wipe it clean and polish the timber as normal.

Removing Stubborn Stains from Leather Furniture

Leather furniture is delicate so you need to be careful when cleaning it. 

  1. If you have a greasy stain on your leather, remove as much as possible with a clean dry cloth.

  2. Leave it for a day or so and see if the remaining stain has “settled” so that you can’t see it. If it hasn’t, try a special leather cleaner.

  3. To remove ink stains, use a cotton bud dipped in rubbing alcohol.  Rub it over the spot until the ink disappears and then dry with a blow dryer. If this doesn’t work, try acetone free nail polish remover.  This should remove the stain nearly instantly but be sure to remove the residue with a leather cleaner.

  4. Remove dark stains from light leather by using one part of lemon juice to one part cream of tartar. Rub the paste on and leave for around ten minutes.  Add another layer and rub it in as well and then remove the paste with a damp sponge.

Suede is more difficult to clean than standard leather.  Dried on stains should be removed with a clean eraser.  Wet stains are removed by soaking them up with a paper towel. Oil based stains should be removed with a commercial suede cleaner.

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