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Hints & Tips

How To Clean Your Preloved Furniture

How To Clean Your Preloved Furniture 

Buying secondhand furniture is a good way to stay within your budget while decorating your home. Whether you’ve purchased a gently used couch for your family room or finally found the perfect antique dining set after years of searching, your like‐new pieces will all need a thorough cleaning before use. Read on to learn how to treat your preloved furniture. 

Why Clean Your Secondhand Furniture? 

Since it’s difficult to know much about each piece’s past, pre‐owned furniture has a special air of mystery. Unless you’ve inherited the item from someone familiar, it’s unlikely you’ll have information about its treatment or storage. However, even though something appears to be in good condition, it may still be hiding some environmental concerns. 

Some furnishings may harbor dust or pollen that could trigger allergies or an asthma attack. Storing upholstered chairs in a garage or shed could leave them with a lingering musty smell. Prior owners might also have children or pets, which can raise concerns about stains or insects. Understanding how to clean a used sofa properly can help you get a new‐to‐you piece back into usable condition.

preloved furniture

Before Moving Preloved Furniture Indoors 

Once you get your furniture home, it’s important to check for insects. If you see dust mites, fleas, or carpet beetles, don’t bring the piece inside just yet. Instead, leave it in a well‐ventilated area outdoors, like the garage, while you treat it with bug spray. Choose an all‐purpose pesticide that is safe to use on upholstery and wood, and around pets if necessary. Cover every surface with a thin layer of spray and allow it to sit overnight.

bug spray for preloved furniture

How to Clean a Used Couch 

Next, take a good look and determine if the item has any stains, bad odors, or just needs a good vacuuming. Try these couch cleaning tips to refresh and renew your furniture find: 

  • Address odors – Treat any musty odors or pet smells with baking soda. When you’re cleaning a used couch, sprinkle the powder over the fabric and then gently push it in with a soft‐bristled brush. Let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming well. 
  • Remove stains –If the cushion covers are removable, use a washing machine to give them a good scrub. For smaller areas and attached covers, an enzyme‐based solution works well when applied directly to the spot. 
  • Vacuum thoroughly – If possible, pull each cushion off the chair to get to nooks and crannies where crumbs and dust tend to congregate. Using the hose attachment and brush accessories on your vacuum cleaner, sweep up any visible debris. 
  • Disinfect hard surfaces – A good disinfectant will remove germs that may be lurking on the chair’s metal or wood frame. To kill bacteria on upholstery, leave furnishings out in the sun for several days. The gentle heat and UV rays will help break down any microbes. 
  • Give leather special care– When cleaning a used sofa or chair covered in natural hide, using a premade leather conditioner will help make the material feel clean and supple. For an alternative, try mixing a very gentle liquid body soap with a tiny amount of water on a damp rag. 

preloved furniture - couch

Bringing Out the Beauty of Wood 

Wooden furniture, like bed frames, dining sets, and tables, requires a different set of cleaning supplies. Since wood doesn’t hold odors and leaves few spaces for pests to hide, wiping with a simple solution often does the trick. Make sure to do a thorough job, getting into small sections where dirt may hide, such as where legs meet the tabletop. 

Dish soap mixed with water and applied with a microfiber cloth will help remove any stickiness or built-up grime. For more stubborn messes, use mineral spirits and a piece of soft cotton. Remember to dry furniture thoroughly since lingering moisture can damage surfaces. Once clean and dry, follow up with polish to make the wood sparkle. This also protects and conditions the furniture, extending its lifespan.

preloved furniture - wooden table

Good as New, Thanks to You 

With a little work, secondhand furniture can look just as fresh, clean, and welcoming as new items for a fraction of the price. Preloved furniture pieces make beautiful, unique additions to any design and, thanks to your love and care, you can be proud to showcase them in your home. 

Hazel Bennett

Hazel Bennett

Community User

Hazel Bennett is a freelance writer and blogger. She has a degree in communications and lives in Northeastern Ohio. Hazel loves writing about numerous topics and showcasing her expertise with words.