Protect And Preserve

By Amy Winter

June 25, 2010 5 min read

In order to maintain long-lasting furniture and flooring, the key is to keep up with a cleaning routine. The American Home Furnishings Alliance's http://www.FindYourFurniture.com recommends using some "elbow grease" and patience to make sure furniture will remain in great condition. Easy cleaning tasks, such as dusting and wiping up spills, can help preserve furnishings.

Eric Hayes, U.S. strategic business unit manager for Bona, suggests cleaning your floors as often as possible. Bona provides a mop and microfiber dusting pad to dust your floors daily or every few days. Dust as often as you see fit; it mainly depends on how much traffic goes in and out of your house. You also can use a broom to dust the floors. Nancy Rondina, founder of NancyProtectz furniture socks, says to make sure your broom has soft bristles; one with coarse bristles could leave scratches on the floor. Rondina also recommends vacuuming after sweeping to get rid of dirt and sand. But be sure to use a lightweight vacuum with soft brush bristles.

"A clean floor equals a longer-lasting floor," Hayes says.

To keep dust and dirt off the floor surface, purchase non-slip rugs. These rugs are most useful near entrances, according to Rondina. Regularly vacuum rugs and doormats, and make sure to keep them dry. Rondina suggests implementing a "no shoes" policy. If people don't wear their shoes inside, there will be not only less dirt and debris brought into the house but also a decreased chance that heels or heavy soles will leave dents on wood surfaces.

When it comes to hardwood floors, sweep and vacuum them weekly to trap dust and eliminate debris. Linda Jovanovich, executive vice president of the Hardwood Manufacturers Association, says to wipe floors with recommended cleaning products on a monthly basis, depending on how much the room is used. Bona sells a water-based hardwood floor cleaner that is safe for your floors, your family and the environment. Hayes recommends steering clear of vinegar and water and soap-based cleaners; vinegar tends to dull the floor's finish, and soap can leave an oily residue.

"Using a professional wood flooring cleaning product recommended by the manufacturer of the floor -- or the installer -- will prolong the life and the finish of the floor," says Anita Howard, communications director of the National Wood Flooring Association.

Hardwood floors face several "enemies" that can affect their finishes and shapes, according to the Hardwood Manufacturers Association. Water, pet accidents and other liquids must be cleaned up immediately. Sitting water can destroy a floor's luster or warp its shape. Over time, sunlight can lighten and age wood. Keep flooring out of direct sunlight with drapes or curtains. Watch out for high heels and long pet claws, which can dent the floor's surface.

Be careful when moving furniture over floors. The Hardwood Manufacturers Association suggests putting glides under the furniture legs to eliminate the chance of scratching the floor. When switching around furniture, Rondina developed the idea of non-slip furniture socks, which provide a cushion between the furniture and floor.

Furniture is another important home decoration that must be cleaned routinely. To protect upholstered furniture, Abe Abbas, furniture writer for About.com, recommends using fabric protectants and stain repellents, such as Scotchgard products. Fabric usually is pretreated at the furniture mills, or retailers will sell additional fabric protection "as a five- to seven-year warranty against accidents," according to Abbas. If you want to put on a fabric protectant yourself, products can be found at supermarkets and hardware stores. It takes about 15 minutes to spray and two to three hours to dry.

"Please remember that even with Scotchgard, you can't let spills sit there for a long time, as liquids can permeate the protective layer and seep through," Abbas says.

For commonly used furniture pieces, use protectant about every six months. The arms, headrests and seats need the most protection, according to Abbas. Don't forget to treat loose pillows and the backs. Patricia Bowling, vice president of communications at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, suggests vacuuming regularly to remove dirt, whether or not your furniture has been treated with a fabric protectant. Dust the piece with a soft cloth and polish.

"Furniture plays an important part in our lives and in our homes," according to http://www.FindYourFurniture.com. "That is why it is essential to care for our furniture to ensure its longevity and cleanliness."

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