When you go out of your way to create a polished, beautiful home interior, you don’t want something as basic as a stain to ruin the atmosphere you’ve worked hard to create. As most people already know, cleaning upholstery is no easy business. That’s why so many homeowners live in absolute terror of spilling even a drop of liquid on their furniture. But upholstery stain removal doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and an accidental spill doesn’t have to ruin your brand new couch. If you work hard to prevent stains, your furniture will last longer and your regularly-scheduled cleanings will be far more effective. For the best preventative care for your upholstered furniture, read on.

Reverse Your Cushions Often

The first step of furniture maintenance is also the most basic: Keep turning over your cushions. Not only will it keep your upholstery fresh, it will reduce the likelihood of your furniture developing stairs or indentations from pressure over time. If you have pets in your household, turning over your cushions regularly will also prevent your pet from getting their scent on one specific spot. If you make it a priority to turn over cushions at least once a week, you’ll be helping your furniture retain its shape and keep looking its best. Just remember to fluff your cushions as you’re turning them over. Couches and chairs are bound to lose their shape without a bit of maintenance, especially if they’re less firm to begin with.

Don’t Skip Vacuuming

When we’re doing our weekly home vacuuming, it’s common to forget the upholstery. But just because your chairs and couches don’t get foot traffic doesn’t mean they’re not accumulating tons of dirt and grime through the week. Many stains can arise from neglect if you’re forgetting to flip over your cushions every so often and vacuum the dirt and crumbs that collect in your furniture’s nooks and crannies. Using the thin extender tool on your vacuum, give your upholstery cushions a thorough going-over during your weekly cleaning to renew your furniture’s freshness and protect against grime and oil buildup.

Avoid Hot Water

When a stain does occur, your first thought might be to douse the area with hot water or spray it with a harsh stain remover. This, however, is not in your best interest. No matter how large or intimidating the stain might be, your best bet is to let a small amount of cold water and cleaner do its work. To treat an upholstery stain, use extreme caution. Stick to cold or warm water rather than boiling or hot, and use a gentle cleaning solution to apply to your stain. If your upholstery is removable, take off the outer layer and put the stained area directly under the sink. Don’t apply too much pressure and be careful not to soak the area. If you’re nervous about applying stain remover to your cushions, check the material of your upholstery to get extra details about the best way to treat the fabric.

Apply Stain Protection

If you’re super paranoid about stains, or if you simply live in a household where pets, kids, and other messy individuals run wild, it’s probably in your best interest to invest in a stain protector. Whether you get an upholstery shield finish applied professionally or spray it on by hand, you can create an effective stain barrier that will allow any spilled liquids to pool up quickly, making for an easy cleanup and a stain-free finish. However, be sure to do some research into your stain shield of choice, since some stain barriers can actually have a negative effect on your furniture’s long-term fabric health. Some upholstered furniture even comes with a built-in stain shield and a warranty for extra protection against messes and spills.

Treat Stains Correctly

When stains happen, the best thing to do is to soak up the excess with a paper towel, and, using a small amount of cold water and clear, dab at the spot to soak it up. Applying too much pressure could help the stain sink deeper into your furniture, and this is the last thing you want. When a stain appears on your upholstery, you want to prevent it from moving deep into the fibers of your cushions where it will be nearly impossible to clean. Unless you’re planning on having your couch or armchair professionally cleaned at least once a year, you want to be very cautious to treat stains correctly when they do appear. Using a neutral cleaner and a damp cloth, keep blotting to dissipate the stain. If you’re not seeing progress, leave a mostly-dry paper towel to soak up the treated area overnight.