Regular cleaning is a major component of IPM and the general maintenance of upholstered furniture. Dust and dirt can act as a food source for pests, so you want to keep your furniture clean. The best way to clean an upholstered object is vacuuming; this is exactly what museum professionals do. It is best to use a multi-speed vacuum on the lowest effective suction setting with a nozzle. Cover the nozzle with thin fabric, such as cheesecloth or gauze, to capture dirt. Try not to drag the nozzle across the surface and be sure to clean in a consistent pattern to ensure comprehensive cleaning. If staining has occurred, you will need to contact a professional. Stains can be avoided if you do not consume food or drink near your upholstered object. If something is spilled, blot the surface immediately with a paper towel to absorb the liquid. Repeat this until you have removed as much liquid as possible. It may be tempting to use heat to speed up the process or household stain removers to reduce stains, but these actions can have unintended consequences such as causing shrinkage or setting in the stains.
It is important to also remember that even though your leather upholstered furniture may look like it is impervious to damage, leather can crack, fade, and flake if it is not cared for. Follow the same cleaning procedures and do not use leather dressings or oils!
If significant staining or damage has already occurred, you may be planning to reupholster your object. We strongly recommend contacting a furniture conservator if you wish to reupholster. It may be important to save evidence of the current upholstery. Evidence of use, such as old upholstery, is an integral part of preservation because it helps to tell the whole story of an object’s life. It helps to tell the whole story of an object’s life, which we hope is made longer by these recommendations!
We hope you are enjoying these entries in our series focused on caring for your family heirlooms. This series will continue throughout the summer and cover a variety of items and materials. If you have any comments on the series thus far, including materials you’d like to see covered in future posts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are in our hearts and minds as collectively we focus on saving lives. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. When we emerge from this global crisis we must and will rely on art and culture, preserved for today and for future generations, to foster joy, well-being and hope. We encourage you to visit our web site for regular updates on our department of art conservation and news coverage of our treasured students and alumni at home and abroad.