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Dublin: 8°C Friday 18 June 2021
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How to deep-clean bulky items like duvets and mattresses

Want to take your spring clean to the next level? Laura de Barra shares her expertise.

Image: Shutterstock/Olga Nikiforova

Laura de Barra regularly brings her lifestyle and home maintenance expertise to the Glenveagh Home Magazine on TheJournal.ie. This week: deep-cleaning those larger, bulkier items like duvets, mattresses and couch covers. It can be done!

RIGHT NOW, YOU’RE probably getting to grips with cleaning your house in more depth than usual and scratching your head when it comes to larger items.

Things that cannot be easily wiped down or thrown in the washing machine can usually end up being avoided which leads to a build-up of odours and stains. To help avoid this, here is how I clean the three most common bulky items…

1. The couch 

As your couch is probably getting more use than normal right now, you’re either going to be noticing old stains or creating new ones. Here’s the best way to take care of spot and deep cleans for the piece of furniture we rely on most after our glorious bed.

When it comes to cleaning your couch, there is one thing you need to note before we go any further! What type of cleaners can be used on her without causing her damage or further staining? You see upholstery fabric is much like clothing, some will be able to handle water, and some can’t hack being soaked etc. The easiest way to find out what cleaners your couch can take is to consult the label.

Usually you’ll find this by lifting up the seat cushions and it will either be facing up or sewn in to seam along the sides tucked in. Don’t worry if you cannot find it, if you know where the couch is from just look up the manufactures website and they should have the care labels there. What you are looking for here is a cleaning code, this will be one of the following letters: W, S, SW, and X. Here is what they mean:

W – water: It means water-based cleaners are fine to use. The best water-based cleaner for a couch is usually water and a little washing up liquid, the grease fighting agents can help lift the stain and it is not damaging to the fabric or to you. Just make sure you use a damp microfibre cloth and not a soaked cloth as this can not only damage what’s under the fabric but also leave water stains on some fabrics if the drying time is long. Make sure you use a white cloth as the dyes from colour cloths can transfer on to your couch and be a nightmare to remove!

S – solvent: This is not as common but should your couch have this label you need to be sure that your cleaner is not water based, for example you can use rubbing alcohol. With couches like this, the manufacture will usually recommend the type of cleaner used for spot cleaning and deep cleaning.

SW – means both of the above are okay.

X – absolutely forget about it: An ‘X’ means no product can be use and you should hoover and wipe down with a dry cloth only. This may be due to the dyes used or the composition of the fabric. Not as common but it’s always good to make sure that if you are buying a couch in a light shade that it doesn’t have this code as it may not suit your lifestyle.

Some couches will have removeable covers with a tag that has symbols just like a clothing tag. This will tell you how it should be machine washed or if it’s dry clean only. If you are using a cleaner for the first time, always test it on an area that won’t be seen first.

Now that you know what can and cannot be use on your couch, here is how to do the perfect deep clean.

Step 1:

Hoover the couch all over, not just under the seat cushions and down the sides. Your hoover may have an upholstery attachment that will make this a breeze.

Step 2:

Sprinkle  bicarbonate of soda all over your couch, paying special attention to the arms and seat cushions. You can leave this for around an hour, but I find it is best to leave overnight before you hoover off. This will give it the time it needs to work its magic.

Step 3:

Assess your couch for stains. The most common labels are S and SW so here’s how I would treat them. Mix some warm water and a little washing up liquid in a basin or bowl. Dip a white cloth in, squeeze off the excess water and blot the stain. This should lift the stain after a few minutes of dabbing but be sure not to rub. This can damage the fibres. When it comes to spot cleaning, remember to work from the outside of the stain in to avoid ‘growing’ the stain.

2. Your mattress

The first and best thing you can do for your mattress is to give it a hoover. Again, an upholstery attachment on your hoover will be useful here as it allows it to glide along fabric.

The dust and dead skin (gag) that ends up in your mattress yearly is enough to shock anyone so make sure you’re doing it every few months. It will also help avoid odours lingering.

Speaking of which, if you do find your mattress needs a spruce smell wise, after you have hoovered, sprinkle on some bicarb. Leave for as long as you can, and then hoover off. As mentioned above, she will absorb any odours and take them with her when she leaves. These may need to be done a few times for older mattresses.

Spot cleaning a mattress will be similar to a couch. You need to check the label. One thing I would avoid is hot water as this can set some of the stains a mattress will encounter most like blood or urine. Spot cleaning with a mix of washing up liquid on a damp (never soaking) cloth should see you right. As mattresses are so dense, never overload with liquid as they can take an age to dry out.

3. The duvets

For starters, try thoroughly shaking your duvet out before you make your bed in the morning. This will prevent you having to deal with an odour issue later as well as make sure it’s a fresh as it can be for the night ahead.

If you need to properly clean your duvet, always consult the care label. It can be tempting to pop it in the washing machine, but some will not dry out properly and leave you with a really strong damp smell. A professional cleaners is always best, but do see if they do a deal on more than one duvet or if you include pillows etc before you go in with just one. Many cleaners do amazing deals on bulk washes and it can save a fortune.

If you are wishing to simply spruce, you can spot clean like above and hang outside for a day in the sun to bring her right back to life!

Want more tips and hacks? Laura de Barra’s new debut book, Gaff Goddess: Simple Tips And Tricks To Help You Run Your Home is on shelves now, published by Transworld Ireland. Buy it here or in all good bookshops, and follow Laura on Instagram for even more cleaning and lifestyle tips.

About the author:

Laura de Barra

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