You want to feel good in your home and keep all the items you own in a good shape so you can enjoy them for the years to come. It is also important to find the right balance when it comes to caring for your various objects, furniture and textiles. I truly believe that we in our “modern” societies, have been influenced over time on how we should take care and clean our house… including the many products we should buy for this purpose. When I think back to the 80s, there would be a different spray for each purpose; a spray against the dust on your furniture, a spray for having a good scent in the house, not to mention the often toxic mosquito or fly-sprays etc… making your home basically, a chemistry lab. Later we learned that these products have sometimes contributed to health-disorders and of course created dangerous waste that couldn’t be recycled.
Over time we have lost a good part of our common sense and started thinking that if you couldn’t smell these “synthetic” chemicals in your house, it probably wasn’t clean enough. It’s time now to restore some common sense around caring for our homes.
Here are some recommendations and reminders, on how you can care on a regular basis for your soft furnishings and other decoration pieces.
Soft furnishing: curtains, cushion covers, table cloths etc…
- Curtains: if you live in a smoke free house, don’t have any pets, don’t have young children and you can’t see any sign of any stains, then just leave your curtains in peace! The only thing I would recommend is to occasionally shake them softly (while hanging on the rod) once a week before vacuuming. Once or twice a year you may shake them outside in the fresh air. A fabric with natural fibers which has been washed or dry-cleaned will always change from its original form. In some cases that can happen with synthetic fibers too.
If you think your curtains need to be washed, follow the cleaning instructions of the manufacturer. If your curtains are washable, it is generally not recommended to use any kind of softener and beware that natural fibers such as cotton or linen will most probably shrink in the length. Shrinkage of a fabric made with 100% natural fibers could be between 2 to 10% with the first wash.
- Sheers: sheer curtains act most of the time like a filter. They often aren’t as tightly woven as the regular decoration fabrics. Particles can stick to the fabric and over time you will notice a change in the color of your sheers. Because sheers are often exposed to extremes of light and temperature, they are usually made of synthetic fibers so they can handle extreme exposures. In general, they are easy to care for but again, since there are so many different types of fibers and weaves you should refer to the recommendations of the manufacturer before cleaning. Usually sheers should be washed once or twice a year, depending on where you live.
- Pillows (couch): as for the curtains, remove the covers and shake it outside. Do the same with the inlet and leave it outside for at least 15 minutes. If the inlet is filled with feathers and/or down you may want to lay it in the sun for 1 or 2 hours. This will regenerate the natural characteristics of the feathers and the cushion should recover its original aspects. I would recommend to do this about twice a year. And, on a weekly routine just tap on the pillows to remove the dust and restore the original shape.
- Table cloth: even if I can’t deny the practical characteristics of synthetic fibers, the touch and feel, or often the shiny appearance of the fabric doesn’t contribute to a cozy and natural atmosphere in a home. Commonly the natural fibers used for table cloths are either cotton or linen. A way to preserve your table cloth made of natural fibers would be to use placemats or a charger under your tableware. That way you should be able to keep your table cloth longer without having to wash them too often.
Usually fabric manufacturers are very cautious about cleaning recommendations and if you follow them you should minimize any bad surprises once washed or cleaned.
A humid (not wet) soft piece of cloth or sponge will do the work to dust any hard surface or smooth leather. How easy is that! If there is any trace such has rubber on your hard-floor or on your wooden desk use an eraser to remove this.
Use white vinegar diluted in some water to which you can add some drops of essential oils for a pleasant scent. Do this once a week or whenever you see it is needed.
Once a month use a feather duster and/or a lamb’s wool duster to dust paintings, photos and other delicate surfaces before vacuuming.
If you are still looking for good DIY recipes for your household cleaners or any DIY stain remover, there is plenty of literature. My favorite book recommendation on this topic is called “Clean mama’s guide to a healthy home” by Becky Rapinchuk.Becky did lots of research, it’s well detailed and easy to read. You will find a lot of cleaning recipes in this book!
After learning our lessons with the chemical products promoted in previous years, we are returning to a simpler and common-sense approach to preserving our homes.
Decoration products are often made of delicate materials and they need a soft approach, unlike appliances such as a refrigerator, dishwasher or washing machine where a more intensive hygiene routine is required.
Try always the “gentle” way first while using natural products and you will preserve and enjoy your home decorations for years to come.