How to clean and disinfect thrift furniture

There has been a surge in Instagram stores selling thrift furniture. The concept is not new in the Philippines as there are several stores selling secondhand Japanese and European furniture and accessories. With the items’ affordable prices, there is a reason why so many people opt to buy and add these pieces to their homes.

Pre-owned furniture, however, can have germs, bacteria, pests, and foul smell lingering in its crevices. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, the state of cleanliness of these items is an additional concern for many homeowners. Some furniture stores promise to clean and disinfect your purchases before they deliver them to your house, but with so many uncertainties this time, it is best to add a layer of precaution by disinfecting all items you bring inside your house. 

Here are some simple ways to clean and disinfect thrift furniture to keep you and your family safe, and to give you peace of mind.

Expose to sunlight. The sun’s UV rays have been proven to help kill any bacteria. It is always best to clean and disinfect used furniture—or any item—outdoors.

Vacuum. Vacuum couches, chairs and other upholstered pieces for crumbs, dirt, and fur that may have been missed from the initial cleaning of the seller. Watch out for droppings, insects and other pests. Do not scrimp on vacuuming the corners and hard-to-reach places, and vacuum multiple times to ensure maximum cleanliness. 

Disinfect and wipe. You can either use a natural and homemade disinfectant or a store-bought one. Make sure that the disinfectant you use does not contain any bleach and other chemicals that may ruin the fabric, wood, or other materials. Do a spot test first if you’re unsure of the cleaning products you will use. If the sofa cover is removable, you can simply wash it with hot water and let it dry under the sun. Do not put it in the dryer as it may shrink. 

Use bug spray. This step is optional. But there are certain bugs and insects that can infest and live in your furniture, such as bed bugs, dust mites, ticks and fleas. Spray the nooks and crannies and leave the couch or chair in a well-ventilated area outside for 24 hours. 

Remove odors. Odors emitting from sofas and other furniture are caused by bacteria and excess moisture. Eliminate this with baking soda. Sprinkle some in all areas of the sofa, use a brush to make an even layer on all sections and surface, and let it sit for a few hours under the sun before vacuuming. If the smell is still there, spray the sofa with water mixed with white vinegar. The smell of the vinegar will disappear once it dries, and so will the odor. Another alternative is to use vodka.

Remove stains. Some fabrics require gentler or more thorough cleaning. For an all-around cleaner that is safe for your furniture, your health and the environment, you can make one using vinegar and liquid soap. In a spray bottle, mix one cup of water, ¼ cup of white vinegar, and one tablespoon of castile soap or liquid detergent. Spray the solution to the stained area and use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to get rid of the stain. Once it’s gone, use a damp cloth to blot the excess liquid. Remember to not oversaturate the area and just use enough to remove the stain. 

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