Fine, funky, filthy.
July 25, 2006 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Help me clean my adopted couch.

One of our neighbors in the apartment complex tossed out a perfectly good used couch -- it's in fine physical shape, fairly new, and looks alot nicer than my 7 year old Heilig Meyers monstrosity.

We "adopted" it.

There's just one problem -- it's filthy. Mostly it looks like ground-in surface dirt, but there are a few stains on it that could be food or drink or... something I care not to think about. No blood or wine or anything like that, at least. It's not horribly stained, just grungy. And it does not smell, like sweat or dog or anything else unpleasant.

Mrs. Jammer has decided that we will rent a Rug Doctor and give the thing a good steam cleaning to de-filth and freshen it up a bit. Anyone recouperated a rather well-used couch with one of these before? Which of the 37 different flavors of snake oil cleaning fluid should we use? Any other tips?
posted by jammer to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
If the cushion covers come off, you should wash them in a washing machine. I would try just vaccuuming first and see how that works. If you go the steam cleaning route, I would suggest a fragrance free solution.
posted by sulaine at 11:33 AM on July 25, 2006

The last time I used a Rug Doctor they had a formula just for upholstery, but that was a long time ago. Sounds like they've expanded since then!

If steam cleaning doesn't help, you can always slipcover!
posted by christinetheslp at 11:43 AM on July 25, 2006

I've cleaned numerous car interiors and many, many carpets with Rug Doctor products and machines, and they're fine for removing as much soil and stain as can be made water soluble with some mechanical action from the brush/vacuum actions. If you're renting the machine, make sure to get the upholstery tool, too, as some shops don't send these out unless you pay an extra fee, and have the item added on the rental contract.

Couple of thoughts about fluids and using the equipment:

1) Take the advice to try the equipment out on an inconspicuous area seriously. Not all upholstery fabrics are colorfast. If yours isn't, it may still be possible to clean it, just not with a water based system like Rug Doctor. Might be worthwhile to do this, with Rug Doctor spotting products, before renting the machine.

2) Use the Rug Doctor upholstery cleaning solution.

3) Pre-spotting bad stains, welt bead (or edge piping), and high wear areas like cushion edges, may definitely help. Use one of the Rug Doctor spotting solutions, wet the high wear areas as per directions, and use clean white terrycloth rags to blot, blot, blot and blot again until dry. Blotting is actually using capillary action to lift dirt, which is incredibly powerful, mechanically, if fairly slow. If you had the time and patience, blotting would actually work as well as the vacuum of the machine for fluid extraction, but vacuum is definitely faster. Blotting works better on small areas and details like welt beads, where the vacuum wand can't "get a grip" so to speak.

4) Don't overwet the pedicel. It's better to clean it twice, or three times, than soak it heavily once, since if you get the foam padding really wet, you'll have a perfect setup for mildew to get going, and bad smells to develop. Vacuum (extract water) until dry. This is usually a lot more vacuuming than you think is needed. If you don't get the piece dry, after each cleaning, you'll get mildew smell. And you won't have a consistent base of comparison for additional cleaning judgements.

5) Clean the machine well before you start using it, and before you take it back.
posted by paulsc at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2006

"4) Don't overwet the pedicel." "pedicel"??? Where'd that come from? I meant:

4) Don't overwet the piece.
posted by paulsc at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2006

I've had remarkable luck with OxyClean (available basically everywhere) and its knock-offs for cleaning, well, basically everything. That might get the spots if the Rug Doctor isn't cutting it.
posted by JMOZ at 4:37 PM on July 25, 2006

« Older No worms please...we're American   |   Help me buy a hidden camera Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.