How to Clean and Care for Your Dining Chairs
Let’s face it – modern lives are messy, and sometimes, our homes are too. From kids to pets to the hustle and bustle of the busy working week, it’s no surprise that a little mess emerges! But, as long as you come prepared, things like spots and stains don’t have to leave a mark on your happiness, or your furniture.
Dining chair stains definitely fall into the category of ‘unavoidable’ – it’s simply a matter of when and how, rather than if. Our dining set is the place we eat all or most of our meals, so it’s important to be on the lookout for food stains, as well as other wear and tear. With our arsenal of handy cleaning tips, though, it’ll be surprisingly simple to nip stains in the bud and refresh your furniture so it looks good as new.
Understanding your furniture
Before we jump into some hands-on tips, it’s firstly important to know what kinds of materials you’re dealing with, as this can directly affect the cleaning process. You know what’s also important? The type of stain you’re trying to remove! These variables can completely change the cleaning process, so be sure to keep them in mind when absorbing these tips. You might need to investigate specialised tools or cleaning products (e.g. polish for wooden surfaces, carpet cleaner) that suit what you’re working with. We’ll be sure to point out what works best for certain types of furniture and stains over others throughout the guide.
First up, let’s tackle the non-negotiables – there are a few things you need to do, no matter the surface or stain. Number one is to act fast, as this will ensure less damage at the time and in the long run. Break contact between the spill and the material or surface as quickly as possible by soaking up the spill or brushing it off, preventing the culprit from doing any further damage. The longer it remains in contact with your dining chair, the more difficult it’ll become to clean.
The basic cleaning process
Once you’ve taken away whatever messy material has spilled onto your dining chair, here’s how to go about minimising anything left over on the surface. First, vacuum or sweep away the remnants of the spill, or if it’s still very wet, opt for a cloth to soak up or remove the liquid. Although it’s tempting, don’t rub the spot – this can be dangerous, as it might increase the spread of the spill, depending on the fabric. By doing this, you could risk embedding the stain into the fibres of your beautiful dining chair, which is definitely a no-no!
Now, it’s time to assess the damage. What’s it looking like – is there still evidence of the stain? If so, don’t panic, as there’s still time to work further on removing it and eradicate any lingering splotches or spillages. A tip for removing any tough stain is to work from the centre of the stain outwards with small, careful movements. This will minimise the appearance of the stain, even if it doesn’t remove it completely.
Rinse and repeat
A lucky few of us may nip those pesky stains in the bud on the first go, but the reality is, it’s more likely to take a few tries. Carefully repeat the cleaning process, ensuring you use a fresh rag or cloth every time to avoid pressing any of the original stain back into your dining chair. Whether you’re just spot cleaning something tiny, or are working on a larger, tougher stain, repetition is the key to furniture that, eventually, looks good as new!
Cleaning by material type
Perhaps one of the most important things that you should take away from our tips is the concept of cleaning by material type. Not all chairs are made equal, and different materials and fabrics will demand a different set of cleaning rules. So, grab your supplies and let’s dive into the most common materials for dining chairs, along with some tips on polishing them up to perfection…
Cleaning fabric dining chairs is often the most complicated, as there are lots of different types of fabric, from suede, to cotton, to linen and everything in between. However, there are a few blanket rules that can be applied to all kinds of fabric.
Number one, check the care instructions. Just like your favourite woolly jumper or linen pants, there will be specific things that you need to do to keep your dining chairs looking gorgeous and like they did the day you bought them. Refer to these and make a note of things to do and, more importantly, avoid.
The vast majority of fabrics can be cleaned with a gentle soap and water combo, so this is a good place to start, no matter what you’re working with. If that’s not proving effective, you might need to try steps that are a little more drastic, like steaming or using solvents. The type of stain also plays a big part here. Water-based materials are easy to dissolve by adding liquid or using steam, whereas oil-based liquids are trickier, and may require something with a little more power.
Dark or brightly coloured stains, such as red wine or tomato sauce, also present their challenges. Dishwashing liquid is often a great go-to for tougher stains, left to sit for an hour or two before wiping clean. Other options include cleaning products designed for clothing and common household items like vinegar and baking soda.
No matter what route you go down, always remember to test out your cleaning product of choice on an inconspicuous area of the furniture piece to ensure it doesn’t stain, pull the colour or affect the fabric in any way. The underside of the furniture or back of a cushion is usually great for this! Discolouration is a common side effect of a thorough clean, so this step is crucial to help you avoid it and ultimately, evade further damage.
Staining leather is scary – you’ve likely paid quite a bit for a beautiful leather piece, so it’s no wonder that you want to take care of it and preserve it as best you can. However, if you’ve slipped up, there’s nothing to be afraid of. There are a few ways to clean leather that might do the trick.
One really important thing to keep in mind is that leather doesn’t like liquid. Water stains can cause permanent damage to this premium material, so keep it to a minimum and instead, stick to a cloth as your first point of call. If you’ve spilled liquid on your leather dining chair, mop it up straight away and leave a light-coloured cloth on it for a few hours to soak up any last dregs. Using light coloured materials to clean is also imperative with leather to avoid causing further stains.
If the cloth isn’t working, or for tougher jobs such as grease or oil-based spots, you’ll need to change your tack. Household items like talcum powder or cornstarch can help absorb liquid and oil, so pat these around the spill gently and leave for a short time – ten minutes is plenty – as they work to soak anything leftover up. You can repeat this process until the stain is removed. This trick is also great for marks on fabric, as it’s gentle yet has great cut-through for stubborn stains.
Of course, leather being a premium, high-quality material, professional intervention is always recommended if you aren’t sure. Really tough stains like ink, permanent marker or red wine should be seen first and foremost by the experts, so don’t try and tackle them yourself unless you’re super confident – the alternative to letting the pros step in could very well be causing irreversible damage.
If you’ve made a mark on the wood of your dining chair, we’re dealing with a completely different project, however surprisingly, cleaning wood takes a similar approach to leather. Being gentle and patient are definitely key here, once again. Start off by grabbing a clean cloth and removing the cause of the stain. Most wooden furniture items have a protective layer or coating, so if this is the case, cleaning away a spill should be as simple as wiping it down and buffing with furniture polish. Keep the window between the initial incident and when you clean it small, and you should have no further issues with stains or discolouration.
However, if you’re not able to get to it fast enough, or you’re dealing with very light or unfinished wood, there are a few things you can do to remove a stain. Baking soda and toothpaste is also a go-to hack for removing mess and marks from your timber furniture. Mix them into a light paste in a one-to-one ratio, adding a few extra drops of water if necessary to help the two combine. Apply them to the furniture and rub gently for a few minutes.
When you’re finished, wipe away and use a slightly damp cloth to clean up any residual toothpaste. When you’re done, grab your handy furniture polish to restore the lustre of the wood and remove any last traces of the stain. Buff the spot, working outwards to create a seamless line between whatever is left of the mark and the surrounding material.
Deep cleaning your dining chairs
Sometimes the only viable course of action is a complete and utter deep clean. If a large portion of the chair is stained – say you spilled an entire bowl of dinner, or a whole glass of wine – then this is your only option as you attempt to restore your furniture to its former glory. Again, the faster you act when removing the stain and its source, the better your chance of success will be.
The object of a full-scale clean is to remove the stain quickly, leaving as little damage as possible. Be sure to start this task when it’s warm or sunny if you’ll be using lots of water to clean your chairs – there’s nothing worse than doing a deep clean only for the conditions to create an additional problem, especially one that could involve mould, rot or damp.
The best way to deep clean your dining chair is to find steps specific to its material and the type of stain, but here are a few things to keep in mind regardless. Start off fully prepared – we’re talking a variety of products, clean cloths and a convenient spot to both clean and dry the piece. When you start cleaning, once again try to work from the inside out to minimise the stain. Use the basic tips first, and then, progress into the more complicated last-ditch efforts.
Routine cleaning and care
All stains aside, preserving your dining chairs in their original condition may seem like a feat – but it’s actually just something that requires a little care and effort on occasion. Regular maintenance will help you stay on top of any problems as they develop, so tiny stains don’t turn into behemoths that’ll have you browsing for a new dining set. Factor a dining chair clean into your fortnightly or monthly cleaning routine, and you’ll be able to quickly identify issues, which in turn minimise the risk of permanent damage.
When you’re cleaning your dining chairs, don’t forget those hidden parts like the legs, crossbars underneath the seat, and the underside or back of any cushions. If you look after your dining chairs with a monthly cleaning routine, it’ll be so easy to avoid lasting damage, which means your dining set should have a much longer life ahead of it. Plus, it’ll make enjoying your beautiful dining chairs all the more worth it!
With these tips in your cleaning arsenal, stains should become a thing of the past – even if the spills themselves aren’t! Of course, when in doubt, call in the professionals, but it’s now simpler than ever before to take matters into your own hands in a safe, straightforward way. So, the next time grubby fingerprints or mum’s bolognese threaten to upend your sanity, you’ll be able to make quick work of them and sleep easy by calling on these cleaning must-knows.
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