Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Lately I've been seeing a lot of articles/blog posts on how 2019 is the year of self care and different ways to incorporate time in your day/week to focus on yourself which is great. I think we all need to practice taking a moment for just ourselves, but it also got me thinking about how we also need to care for the things in our life as well.
So many of us have become accustom to having items so readily available or the idea that things can be so easily replaced that we don't really value and appreciate the things we do have (anyone else hear their mother's voice when reading that).
In an attempt to help eliminate some of that disposable consumerism and to save you some money I have come up with a list of ways you can care for some of the main materials and furnishings in your home so they will last for years to come.
Most professional will recommend that you sweep or dust mop daily, but lets be honest here, "ain't nobody got time for that!" I suggest you weekly either sweep or dust mop then (depending how in depth you want to get) vacuum using the bare floor setting to pick up what was missed. Once a month you should clean your wood floors with a cleaner recommended for your type of flooring as there are different ones for real hardwood or engineered floors.
If you have real hardwood floors and have noticed that they aren't looking their best there is a product we use quite frequently to bring them back to life called Rejuvenate (not a paid endorsement). This product will fill in minor scratches, restores shine, and helps to protect the flooring. It is applied with a cloth padded mop and dries in about 45 minutes. You can use this on your wood doors as well and it will have the same effect.
If you need something a little more grunty we suggest Howard's Restore-a-Finish (not a paid endorsement). This product comes in a range of colors and will require a wipe on/wipe off 'karate kid' type of application. This of course makes for a longer hand application but is well worth the effort to restore your hardwood floors. We used this product at an older home we staged and it made the original wood floors look fantastic!
Carpet + Area Rugs
Your carpet and rugs should be vacuumed once a week (more for high traffic areas). Make sure you take your time and overlap your paths to ensure that you are letting the vacuum do its job. You should have your carpets and high traffic rugs professionally cleaned at least once a year (I prefer having it done in the spring then again in the fall).
Designer Tip: To keep carpets and rugs smelling fresh sprinkle baking soda over them, let sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum to remove. The baking soda will absorb any odors in the fibers leaving the area smelling fresh again.
Most carpets are made to resist liquid penetration for a time so you only need to blot (DO NOT RUB A SPILL) the area dry with a clean dry cloth so the stain will not set (scotch guarding rugs will also allow you to treat any liquid spills in the same manner). To remove stains make sure you're using a treatment specifically for the type of stain you have making sure to test a hidden area first. Afraid to tackle a set in stain yourself or can't get one to come out? Call in a pro; trust me it will be worth the cost to save from replacing that carpet or rug.
About once a month you'll want to vacuum your upholstered furniture's surface and underneath any loose cushions. This is where those vacuum attachments that always seem to fall out of the 'handy' clips on your vacuum so you've taken them all off and just thrown them somewhere so you're not constantly picking them up will need to come into play. After vacuuming the whole piece treat it with a fabric protector (making sure to test on a hidden spot first) to help create a barrier against any accidental spills or stains. You don't need to treat it every time you vacuum it, usually these protectors will last about a year. We recommend using a "green label" protector so you aren't adding chemicals to your furniture.
Designer Tip: If you have multiple loose cushions/pillows on a piece make sure you rotate them so they wear evenly.
Make sure you clean spills as soon as possible to help prevent stains. Like we mentioned before the best way is to blot the stain (not rub) with a clean dry cloth. For set in stains there are several product out there to treat every kind of stain. However since you never know if it will bleach your fabric we suggest you use a distilled white vinegar and water mix for fresh spills. In a spray bottle you'll want a 50/50 mixture of the distilled white vinegar and warm water. Spray the area (do not soak) and then blot with a clean dry cloth. Vinegar is a naturally acidic so it will not ruin the fibers in your fabrics.
Another household item you can use for stains is rubbing alcohol. This was suggested to us from a local professional carpet cleaner and let me tell you it works like magic! After vacuuming spray the stain with the rubbing alcohol and blot with a clean dry cloth and let dry. If you've tried all of this and the stain still hasn't come up after 2 cleaning attempts then it's time to call in a pro to address the area.
Just like upholstered items leather furniture pieces should be vacuumed once a month in between cracks and under cushions. Buff the leather with a microfiber cloth (this can be done as needed to help keep the dust away). At least twice a year (I suggest spring and fall) you'll want to treat your leather pieces with a leather conditioner to help keep the leather from drying out and cracking. Genuine leather can eventually bleach out if it is placed in direct sunlight so be mindful of where you have your furniture situated and either adjust or keep blinds/panels pulled during the day.
Real leather is very durable and will last forever if you take care of it. Most people don't realize that you need to clean your leather furniture as they will hold onto dirt and will also absorb oils from our hair and skin. We recommend using Leather Honey Leather Cleaner followed by Leather Honey Leather Conditioner (not a paid endorsement) as they are non toxic leather products that have been around since 1968. The spray comes as a concentrate so you can dilute it into a spray bottle for easy application. The conditioner will help to re-hydrate your leather, help restore the color, and help protect the leather. As usual you will want to test the products on a hidden area just to make sure there is no discoloration for both the cleaner and conditioner.
Once a week you'll want to dust your wood furniture with either a soft cloth or a duster. Once a month you should thoroughly clean your wooden pieces. We suggest Murphy's Oil Soap (not a paid endorsement), but you can use any mild soap and water mixture. Dip a clean soft cloth into your cleaner and ring out so that it is just damp and wipe down the surface. Follow with a soft dry cloth so there is no water left that might damage your furniture. Once dry spray your choice of orange oil on a dry soft cloth and rub it all over the surface and let sit for a bit before wiping off the excess with a clean dry cloth and buff to shine.
Designer Tip: If you have several wood pieces clean them all at the same time so when you are done with the final piece you can go back to the first and start the next step to make sure the pieces have had a good amount of time to dry/absorb any products.
Wood furniture should not be placed in direct sunlight as it will fade the piece. You should also avoid placing wood furniture in front of a heat vent as it will dry out the wood causing it to crack. Always use coasters, turrets, table cloths, or placemats on coffee and/or dining tables to protect them from water rings and hot spots.
If you have scratches or fading you can either use furniture markers/crayons to touch up the areas but we recommend you start by treating the piece with Old English (not a paid endorsement) as that will help fill and restore any scratches or fading quite nicely and then if you need to you can apply the furniture markers/crayons. Please be aware Old English comes in several different colors so make sure that you choose the color closest to the wood you have or it will stain it oddly and no one wants that.
Have any tips or tricks of your own that help keep items in your home looking like new? Share them below!