Hygiene and cleanliness are two very different things in a household full of children. How many of you have found yourself washing one child’s hands only to turn around and catch the other scribbling on the wall with a crayon? Children seem to have superpowers when it comes to what they can accomplish when your back is turned for a nanosecond.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that we are spending more time at home with our kids. While this might be a blessing to some, it also means that the house generally resembles a disaster zone by the time the kids are snoring away every evening.
Putting away toys is a constant chore, and they seem to multiply daily. You’ve likely surrendered to allowing the children only to wear underpants and T-shirts because it means less laundry. Home cooking means an endless pile of dishes. We can deal with all of this, but the mystery furniture stains are a whole other story.
How do you get rid of unknown stains?
There’s a good chance that the purple splotch on the sofa isn’t red wine, since that was all polished off early on in 2020. By process of elimination and the size, it’s also unlikely that the offending stain is blood, as everyone in your family seems to have their limbs intact. You know you’ve been watching Netflix with the kids for too long when you start deducing the scene like an InBESTigator.
Not knowing what a mystery stain consists of brings a whole host of issues. By now, you’ve likely realized that different stains will require various methods in order to eliminate them. Our advice is not to use any chemicals if you don’t know what the stain is yet. You’ll likely only have one attempt at getting it right, and using the wrong method could make the stain worse, ruin the color, or even damage the fabric upholstery.
Mystery stain removal – step one
We asked the carpet cleaning professionals about where we should start when tackling a mystery stain on upholstered furniture. Their suggestion was simple; before you start to concoct any type of chemical solution or check your cupboards for cleaning products, you need to read the cleaning instructions for your furniture, regardless of whether you intend to battle the stain yourself or have the experts deal with it.
Like clothes, couches will have a tag detailing how best to clean it when an inevitable stain appears. This is typically found under the cushions for easier access. Here is a cipher for some of the standard codes found on upholstered furniture:
- X – Only vacuum or lightly brush a stain and never use water or solvents
- W/S – Use distilled water or cleaners that are solvent-based
- S – Only use mild, solvent-based cleaners and not water
- W – You can use distilled water or water-based cleaning products
Now that you’re aware of how difficult certain types of materials are to clean, you’ll likely take this into greater consideration the next time you’re shopping for furniture. Keep in mind that distilled water is best used rather than tap water to avoid minerals that can cause fading or leave ring stains. In order to tackle the next stages, you should now gather into your arsenal some clean microfiber cloths, salt, club soda, baking powder, vinegar, a hairdryer, and a vacuum cleaner.
Mystery stain removal – step two
We have included our checklist below of how to proceed when you have no idea what mystery stain your children have caused on your furniture.
- If the mess is fresh, then blot up what you can gently with a paper towel
- If the mess is dry, then start with a simple vacuuming
- Always work from the outside in, trying to contain the stain, whether wet or dry
- Start cleaning with warm (not hot) distilled water
- Add some salt to the stain and a dash of club soda
- Gently scrub with a clean toothbrush
Mystery stain removal – step three
If the above steps don’t do the trick, you could try a mixture of spirit vinegar, baking soda, and warm water with a drop of dish liquid. Ideally, you would do this first on a hidden part of your furniture in case it causes any kind of discoloration. Work away at the stain with the toothbrush to try to lift it.
Remember to keep working from the outside of the stain into the center so as not to cause any further damage. Ensure that you add small dabs of water until no soap residue is left that could add to the stain. You can speed up the process by drying the area with a hairdryer on a low setting. Once dry, you can vacuum again. If it appears that this process is working, then you can repeat it until the stain has faded to the best of your ability or disappeared altogether.
Keep in mind that some furniture sellers include insurance against accidental stains and damage with the purchase. Similarly, check your household insurance or even the credit card that you used to pay for the couch. If the damage is irreparable, then you might be able to get your couch replaced with only having to pay the deductible.
If the above methods don’t work, then we recommend that you call in the experts. Professional upholstery cleaners can get your soft furnishings looking new again and will know how to properly tackle stains on different types of materials and leather finishes. Besides getting rid of the mystery stains and general grime that children and pets can bring into the house, your furniture will smell fresh again.
Professionals recommend at least an annual cleaning of your upholstery to remove soil that can degrade the fibers and limit your furniture’s lifespan. You can then make better use of your spare time to hang out in the backyard with the kids and trade that club soda for a much-needed cocktail.