Friday, June 28, 2013

Nasty-Ass Couch Makeover: Cleaning Your Microfiber Furniture (Tutorial)

One day, I was wasting time that I should have been using to clean my messy house on KSL finding junk to play with and make pretty, while other mommies did normal things like feed and bathe their kids.

That day, I happened to be looking at couches because my current one that was a dark olive green, did not say "cottage" to me and I wanted something more neutral and "lighter". Seeing as how my budget was nonexistent limited, I was totally psyched when I found a couch I liked that was listed for 50 bucks. It was a smaller sectional with a chaise on it, which is what I'd been wanting but seeing as how we no longer have those plastic angels known as credit cards I could not afford to buy new, so of course, like any DIY'er I decided to hit the thrifties! The couch looked a little dirty in the pictures, but not too bad, as in, not nearly as bad as it did when I saw it, even though it was described as having "just a little wear on it". Anyway, even though it was cosmetically "Courtney Love in the 90's", Structurally, it was pretty decent and sturdy. I thought it might make a good upholstery project, even though the only previous experience I had was reupholstering dining chair cushions (We all know, I can be a little delusional). Against any remaining sanity I had left in my brain, I ended up buying the sucker with all sorts of visions of a future Pottery Barn-esque sectional in my living room, down to the $200 throw pillow look-alikes, where everyone who saw it would think it were just as amazing and would also be completely amazed when I said in a snooty little laugh, "Oh, that? Yeah, I upholstered it. It was SOOOO easy!". But, soon after we got it in the basement, reality hit (as in the borrowed library book about reupholstery), so it ended up sitting there for several months, while I occasionally stared at it, wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Before we go any further, let me show you what the gem looked like:

Personally, I believe this qualifies as Nasty-Ass.
(and remember, pictures usually make things look better than they actually are.)

Originally, I had assumed that I would HAVE TO reupholster the couch because there was no way that I was going to get years of nasty grime off those cushions (...and I was quite certain some of the grime resulted from beer pong being played on it, despite a huge framed picture of the Salt Lake Temple hanging on the living room wall of the house where it came from).

However, one day on Pinterest I saw a pin about cleaning a microfiber couch. The method on the pin was the use of rubbing alcohol, but I soon found a few other methods via Google. I decided to try all of these methods on my couch. I mean, it's not like I could have ruined it anymore than it already was.

Disclaimer: Before I get too far into the process that I used, I need to let you know that there are things you need to consider before attempting to clean your microfiber furniture yourself. The first thing is to check the label!!(which I did not do until I had already tried a couple of methods...oops!). Anyway, labels on microfiber contain a code that you can use in order to figure out how to best clean it. There is a W (which my couch was and it means you need to use a type of water based cleaning process), S (which means to use a solvent based cleanser), SW (which means you can use both, and X (which means you should have looked at the code and realized what it was before you bought it, because it's vacuum only and the cheerios your two-year-old just barfed up on it just bought it a ticket to the dump). The labels can be hard to find, but I found mine under one of the cushions (after I had turned the entire couch over thinking it would be on the bottom, of course.)

Now that we have that out of the way, I'll go on: My research on the internet introduced me to 4 primary methods that people use to clean their microfiber furniture. The pin that I found advocated using the rubbing alcohol method. I also used a method calling for dish soap and baking soda (I later found out that the baking soda is really just for odor, not for the dirt and stains, so I didn't even need it and probably should have figured that out before I was vacuuming baking soda off my couch for several hours), another method calling for baby wipes, as well as one that uses that good old Oxyclean. I'll explain below what exactly I used for each method and what the results were:

1. Rubbing alcohol method

(This was the first method I used BEFORE I happened to check the label, which was a "W", meaning that I shouldn't have used this method at all, but luckily there was no harm done, so it's all good.)

The rubbing alcohol method advocates using straight rubbing alcohol and a white or light colored dish sponge so that the color doesn't transfer. I used the "natural" sponges which worked fine.(and I felt more environmentally friendly, too!) I used the spongy side, NOT the rough side (because it might scratch). Afterwards, I used a scrubby brush (I think it was a $2 one for the kitchen dishes) to smooth the microfiber back out. Choose one where the bristles are "softer and fatter". You aren't scrubbing four day old spaghetti sauce off a saucepan, you are merely "grooming" your microfiber...and scratching it, because you chose to use a scrub brush meant for grout, is not grooming it. If you want more details on this method, you can go to Chris and Robin's Nest, which is where the pin was from on Pinterest.

I have to say, a lot of crap came off, as you can see by the pictures below. I also have to say that I was dry-heaving as I was rinsing out the sponges...

While the rubbing alcohol was pretty good, I had way too much ground to cover and too much grime to get off the couch for it to really work well, so I moved on. However, if your couch is more like Chris and Robin's couch, then I think it would work fine, and it definitely kicks ass for spot treatment.

2. Baby wipe method

I did test the baby wipe method because that was another one I had read about and it did work on a surface spot, but not as a whole and even if it did, I probably would have gone through several hundred boxes in order to get the entire couch clean! However, for spot cleaning, I think the baby wipe method would work great.

3. Dish soap Method

This also worked pretty well, and I was prepared to use it again as I figured no matter what I used, it would take a few times before I got all of the grime off. But, when I went downstairs a few days later, there was a little bit of a grayish cast on the couch. Plus, it took FOREVER to dry!

4. Oxyclean

Okay, I have used Oxyclean in the past with okay results. Definitely Probably because I was too impatient to follow directions. However, with the couch, I decided I was going to actually read AND follow them. By doing this, I started seeing results the first time the couch dried and the couch continued to transform every time I cleaned it, which still took 3 or 4 times because it was so stained.

Of course, the easiest and quickest method would have to be the one that I tried very last! I literally just mixed one of those dollar squeezie bottles with what the ratio that the container said to do for upholstery, squirted it on the couch, and then took a dry white cloth and blotted up the nastiness and then rinsed it and watched the water turn black and blacker with each cloth. Definitely appetizing.

A couple of quick tips: 1)Because I had to do several treatments and was far too impatient to wait several days for each treatment to dry fully, I did use a hairdryer to dry the couch faster between cleanings which worked well (You are supposed to use the cool setting, but I used the normal one because it's faster and it was fine.) 2)I did use a spray bottle in the beginning to clean, but decided it was NOT the best thing to use because of the droplets and spray marks that it leaves behind, which can end up staining your couch, a little counter-productive. So, I switched to the squeezie bottle. I also found that it worked best when I saturated an entire cushion versus just the stain, making sure the solution I was using was evenly distributed in order to avoid those same pesky water stains.

Anyway, I ended up using the Oxyclean on the couch itself and the chaise lounge cushion (because it wasn't removable.) However for the cushion covers and the pillow covers, I decided to just take a chance and throw them in the washer with my regular detergent and they turned out awesome! Feeling lucky, I threw them in the dryer, too and it still didn't ruin them!! Although, I do not claim that it is safe for you to do so, so don't come crying to me if you do end up ruining your couch because you used this idiots method for cleaning it.

Here's just one of the pillow covers BEFORE I washed it in the washing machine:

 (Admit it, you puked in your mouth a little, didn't you?)

...and here it is AFTER it went through the wash. I was a little worried at how the fabric looked, but once I put the stuffing back in and let it sit for a couple days, it looked as good as new.

So, there you have it! Four methods that I've already tried for you and that you can choose from to clean your nasty couch...Of course, I do claim that my couch was nastier than yours could ever be, which is why I chose the name, "Nasty-Ass" (Although, I do want to offer an apology to those who googled those words, hoping to find a different kind of website).
Anyway, all accidental innuendos aside, I think it ended up looking pretty awesome!!

"Can I be in the picture, mommy?"

I have more pictures, but I think these are graphic enough, even for those who are here accidentally because of Google (and, I'm not in the mood to edit any more pictures at the moment, anyway). I also want to acknowledge that it may look like the cushions are still stained in the pictures, but it really is just the lighting...(and the fact that it's microfiber). Oh, and for my friends out there who can't believe I would buy a couch this dirty and then sit on it, I promise it was disinfected (soaked) with about two cans of Lysol and then cleaned so many times, I would doubt any germ survived on it, and I'll also remind you that the couch you sat on at the furniture store that cost way more than this one, was sat on by many more asses than mine has had on it...some who probably had gas issues, so there!

Update: It's been a couple of months since I finished cleaning the couch and it has held up pretty well. There are a few spots that have shown up on the chaise (which was the most stained because that's where the family of 8 played beer pong on Friday nights), which are probably old stains that have seeped up through the cushion, which happens...or, it may be two children who should NOT be eating in the living room, but considering that wrappers and crumbs magically appear in there, I am suspecting the opposite is occurring.