Cleaning velvet is a little different from most other types of fabric. Velvet fibres protrude from the backing material in a short, dense pile making them more prone to flattening. Cleaning, therefore, must be gentle. Today we'll show you how to clean velvet furniture. This guide explores how to clean velvet beanbags, chairs, and couches effectively and get rid of stains for good. As you read through these instructions, you’ll notice that they differ quite considerably from regular upholstery cleaning methods. Never follow a generic cleaning article, as you could damage your velvet, causing it to lose its natural, soft feel.
How To Clean Velvet Chairs, Couches And Beanbags
Velvet seating options offer a higher level of comfort than most other materials. The material is delicate and soft so sitting on it is always a pleasure. However, this softness comes at a price. Velvet is much more challenging to maintain than other materials. The structure of the nap means that you can’t scrub as you would regular pieces of fabric. Instead, cleaning it requires paying time and attention. If you don’t, then you could damage the fabric and be forced to get your seating recovered from scratch.
Step 1: Collect Your Materials
Before you begin cleaning your velvet upholstery, you’ll need to collect your materials. You will require:
- A vacuum
- Soft brush
- Soap and water
- Upholstery cleaning fluid
- Clean, absorbent cloth
Step 2: Vacuum The Velvet
Tiny dust particles accumulate in velvet over time. They settle on the surface at first, and then, as your body brushes against the fabric, they make their way down deeper into the material. Unfortunately, this process is not harmless. As you move around on your seat, the dust particles act like millions of tiny abrasive surfaces (a bit like sandpaper), slowly damaging the velvet pile. Over time, individual strands of velvet begin to fray, and the material loses quality. The good news is that vacuuming your velvet furniture regularly helps to prevent this from happening. It removes dust before it has the chance to damage the pile. As a general rule of thumb, you should use a hand-held vacuum. Choose the brush attachment as rubbing this gently across the velvet will help liberate dust particles from the interior. To keep your velvet furniture in tip-top condition, vacuum around once per week. For convenience, do it at the same time as your carpets.
Step 3: Tackle Spills
Despite being so delicate, velvet furniture is just as prone to spills as any other material. Kids and guests will continue spilling their drinks on it, regardless. If somebody has an accident, deal with the spill as soon as you can. Start by blotting the area with your clean, absorbent cloth and then repeat this process to remove as much of the stain as possible.
Step 4: Blot With Cleaning Products
If you notice that some stains remain, you can try blotting them with various cleaning products. Before using any cleaning products, test your cleaning materials on an inconspicuous area to ensure they don’t damage the material. Always wait at least 30 minutes to ensure that your cleaning solution isn’t damaging the fabric. Start with regular soapy water. Dip your cloth into the soapy solution and then wring it out until it is damp. Then blot the stain several times before soaking the cloth back in the soap solution. Repeat this process until you can no longer see improvements in the stain. After several rounds, the stain should appear faded or disappear entirely. If you aren’t having much luck with regular soap, try using a specialist cleaning product, like Woolite. These brands tend to be good at cleaning polyester and cotton versions of velvet. According to the instructions, apply the upholstery cleaner to the velvet with a soft cloth or sponge, making sure that you leave the pile undisturbed. Then follow the process described above, repeatedly blotting and rinsing the cloth to remove the stain.
Step 5: Brush The Fabric
After cleaning the fabric, please wait for it to dry and then brush it in the direction of the pile to restore its original look. If all goes well, the velvet should look brand new again. Soft-bristled boffin brushes are the best type of brush to use on velvet napped fabrics. These are between 8 and 13 inches in length and have relatively long, straight bristles. They often come as part of an upholstery care set. If you still can’t remove the stain from your velvet upholstery, you may need to call in a professional. A professional will often use water-free solvents to penetrate the fabric further and ensure uniform upholstery colour.
The Dry Cleaning Method
Unsplash - CC0 License Are you wondering how to clean velvet beanbags without using any liquids? If so, you might want to try the dry cleaning method. First, start by applying a paper towel or dry cloth to the stain if it is wet. As before, please wait for it to draw the moisture out of the material to prepare it for cleaning. Next, use your dry cleaning detergent. Blot it into the fabric using a soft sponge. Now, wait for the cleaning solution to dry completely. During the drying process, you should notice that the stain begins to precipitate out of the fabric, just as if you had taken it to the dry cleaners. Finally, when the fabric dries, vacuum the area and then brush the pile if the velvet appears matted.
The Natural Method
Unsplash - CC0 License Perhaps you don’t want to use any soap at all. In this case, you might want to try the natural cleaning method.
Step 1: Collect Your Materials
To clean your couch or beanbag the natural way, you will need the following items:
- Baking soda
- Lemon juice
- Glass bowl
- Vacuum with a brush attachment
- Clean cloth
Step 2: Vacuum Your Furniture
As before, start by vacuuming the furniture along the nap using your vacuum’s brush attachment. Make sure that you suck up any debris before you apply any cleaning solution.
Step 3: Make The Lemon Juice And Baking Soda Solution
Start by mixing two tablespoons of baking soda with a small bowl filled with lemon juice. For best results, use lemon juice from concentrate, as this tends to contain fewer non-cleaning elements from the lemon.
Step 4: Skim The Foam With A Cloth
Take your cloth and skim it across the mixture’s foam. It would be best if you wind up with a sizable patch of suds on your cloth. Before applying the solution to the stain, test it on an inconspicuous patch to ensure it is working correctly. Don’t rub the solution into the velvet. Instead, use straight, easy movements along with the nap. Avoid pressing the solution into the material.
Step 5: Let Your Upholstery Dry
It shouldn’t take too long for your velvet to dry after you apply the cleaning solution. Wait around three to five hours before letting anyone sit on it. Using it too early can damage the nap.
Additional Tips For Cleaning Velvet
In this section, we present some additional general cleaning and care tips for velvet furniture. As you’ll learn, velvet can be a temperamental fabric, so it requires a lot of love and attention to keep it in the best possible condition.
Avoid Placing Furniture In Direct Sunlight
Unfortunately, velvet is prone to fade, particularly cotton-based versions, so always keep it from direct sunlight. UV rays can destroy the organic molecules that give it its colour, making it appear not very interesting over time. Once UV destroys the colour, it is gone for good. So you can wind up with some rather odd-looking furniture if some patches have been exposed to sunlight, and others haven’t. To mitigate sunlight, move your furniture out of the way, hang drapes or use a throw blanket to protect the underlying fabric until you come up with a more permanent solution.
Make Your Own Cleaning Solution
Soapy water and commercial products will remove most stains. But if you have particularly heavy soiling, you might want to try creating your own cleaning solution. For heavier spills, try adding a couple of drops of dish liquid to a cup of water. Then shake it around until you create some frothy bubbles. Now take your cloth and dip it in the suds. Then apply them to the stained portion of the fabric. Lightly blot the stain until you remove as much of it as you can. Depending on what caused the stain, you may find that dish soap is more effective than regular soap (especially on greasy stains).
Steam Your Velvet Regularly
Because velvet has a high pile (individual strands stick out a long way from the base of the material), it tends to compress over time. Thus, steaming velvet is a great way to keep it looking its best. If you notice that your velvet is looking compressed, great a steamer. If you don’t have a specific steamer designed for velvet, you can use a regular iron (setting the heat to the lowest setting and steam production to the highest before you use it). Switch the steamer on and then gently brush it in the opposite direction of the pile. You should notice that wrinkles appear faded the more you brush them. The pile should also begin to fall more naturally, without appearing compressed. Do not press too hard when using the steamer, as this could damage the fabric permanently.
Spot Clean Immediately After Spills
Don’t leave cleaning up spills for another day. Instead, deal with them immediately with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel. If you leave stains for too long, they will become incorporated into the fabric, and you will find it much harder to remove them. When you clean stains, be careful not to push them deeper into the fabric. Don’t rub or dab. Instead, leave the cloth balancing on the stain and allow it to draw out any moisture naturally. If the cloth is more absorbent than the velvet, then the majority of the stain should move in the direction of the cloth. Before using any cleaning materials, check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to view any special care requirements. Make sure that the cloth that you use is lint-free and capable of absorbing additional liquids. Leave the cloth on the affected spot until it dried out. Please don’t remove it early, as this will prevent the stain from migrating.
Get A Velvet Brush
If you don’t have a velvet brush already, you’ll want to buy one. Having a velvet brush for your sofa will make it easier to remove stains and keep the material looking good long-term, whether you have any stains or not.
The Bottom Line
Your success in cleaning spills on velvet furniture - such as bean bags, couches and chairs - depends on the underlying type of velvet. In the past, velvet was stuffy and high maintenance, making it incredibly difficult to look after. However, now, more advanced manufacturing techniques and materials mean that it is easier to maintain. If you are worried about cleaning velvet, opt for the polyester version. This synthetic material is made of plastic fibres that stains can’t penetrate as easily. It is much easier to clean than cotton. Some modern velvet-like fabrics (which aren’t the same as true velvet) are almost wholly stain-free. These are best for pets or children but still want the unique feel of velvet on their furniture upholstery. Please note that many of these products contain fire retardants. In any case, cleaning velvet isn’t as difficult as many people imagine. You don’t need any special equipment or cleaning solutions. Soap or dish soap will suffice in the majority of situations. Lemon juice and baking soda are also suitable for people wanting to live chemical-free. If in doubt, always contact professional upholstery cleaners. They have heavy-duty cleaning products for every type of velvet that they might find in your house. Click here to find out how to clean a bean bag.