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How to Protect Upholstery From Damage

Our furniture is truly like a good friend. It takes care of us, holds on to our loose change for us, and supports us when we pull an all-nighter or fall asleep in front of the TV.  However, over time, our favorite chair, sofa, or recliner can begin to show wear and tear; eventually getting demoted and donated to the local thrift shop. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) offers some helpful suggestions to protect upholstery from damage. [Note: Ad or content links featured on this page are not necessarily affiliated with IICRC (The cleantrust) and should not be considered a recommendation or endorsement by IICRC (The cleantrust)].


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There is much owners can do to retain the "new" appearance and quality of fabric of upholstered furniture. Care must begin when the upholstery is first put into service. What kind of care?

  • Controlling Soil - Upholstered arm-rests, seat cushions, head-rests, and pillows are more susceptible to soil buildup. Using arm covers and rotating cushions frequently can prolong fabric life and appearance.
  • Dry Soil Removal - Vacuuming on a regular basis and, depending on fabric durability and construction, brushing upholstery routinely is recommended to remove dust and particle soil.
  • Immediate Spotting - Most spills and spots can be removed easily if the excess is scooped up or blotted and treated immediately with plain water or a neutral spotter. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions and use caution when spotting leather or dry-clean-only fabrics.
  • Cleaning Frequency - Have upholstered furniture and fabrics professionally cleaned - the IICRC recommends every 12-24 months; more frequently for more heavily soiled fabrics or when it is located in a home that is occupied with persons with allergies or respiratory sensitivity.  
  • Fabric Protectors - Fabric protector (e.g., Scotch-Gard®) is a chemical based product that may be applied to the finished fabric by the manufacturer, the furniture dealer, or by a professional cleaner.  It is designed to bond with or coat the fibers to form an "invisible barrier" against water-based and oil-based stains. If applied too heavily, the fabric protector may adversely affect fabric appearance and texture. However, even with proper application, upholstery must be vacuumed regularly and the fabric protection may need to be re-applied after professional cleaning.

Let's face it, our furniture gives to us much more than we give to it. By showing it a little TLC and by implementing these IICRC suggestions, our furniture can continue doing what it does best - supporting us for years to come - and look good doing it!


How to Protect Upholstery From Damage:  Created on August 3rd, 2011.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014



The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is a certification and standard-setting nonprofit organization for the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. The IICRC serves the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, in partnership with regional and international trade associations.

The mission of IICRC is to identify and promote an international standard of care that establishes and maintains the health, safety and welfare of the built environment.

The IICRC, with industry-wide participation, certifies - and develops certifications and standards for - inspection, cleaning and restoration. The IICRC also serves as a valuable consumer referral source for IICRC-Certified technicians and firms. There are currently more than 53,000 active IICRC-Certified technicians, many with multiple certifications, and more than 6,000 IICRC-Certified Firms around the world.