Green Home

How to Clean Your Couch

Learn how the right cleaning products and methods can revitalize even the most tired couch

How To Clean Your Couch Featured

Like all household items that get a lot of wear, your couch can easily look tired and grubby. Sticky fingers, spills, pet hair and regular grime can leave your couch looking very sorry indeed.

But there’s no need to hunt for a brand new couch just yet! By giving this vital piece of home furniture a good clean, you’ll be amazed at how you can revitalize your whole room and add years to your couch’s lifespan.

Let’s look at how to clean a couch so that it looks as good as new.

What Do Your Upholstery Cleaning Codes Mean?

Before you begin looking at how to clean a couch, make sure that you’re familiar with the material that’s been used to upholster it. After all, you wouldn’t use leather conditioner on a velvet couch, so familiarize yourself with the cleaning codes found on your manufacturer label.

The code for your couch will likely be underneath or at the back of your couch, and will display, along with the fire code, one of the following: W, S, S-W, X, DC or F. These relate to the washing instructions for your couch. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these codes mean:

  • W stands for Wet cleaning. It means that the products that you use on your couch cushions must be water-based. With this couch code, you can safely dilute fabric detergents or similar products with water, and even use a steam cleaner. Chemicals such as rubbing alcohol should be avoided.
  • S stands for Solvent cleaning. This type of couch will show up water stains and so can’t be cleaned with water. Instead, use only a water-free solvent or a dry-cleaning product. Solvents can be toxic in closed rooms though, so be sure to well ventilate the room when using them.
  • S-W stands for Solvent-Wet cleaning. It can be somewhat of a confusing code because it seems to give conflicting advice, but it means that the fabric upholstery can take both water-based cleaning products and dry cleaning solvents. It can also mean that different parts of the couch should be cleaned in different ways. If you’re in any doubt, spot clean only and call the manufacturer for clarification.
  • X stands for No Products. If you have an X code, your couch fabric is too delicate for any kind of cleaning products and should only be brushed, or lightly vacuumed.
  • DC stands for Dry-Clean only. This is similar to the S, or solvent, code, and means that no water-based products should be used.
  • F stands for Foam cleaning. It’s a rare code to find but some couch fabrics can only be cleaned with a mild cleaning agent that, when applied, becomes a foam.

How to Clean a Couch (Regular Cleaning)

You can save yourself a huge cleaning job once a year by keeping up to date with light couch maintenance. When it comes to knowing how to clean a couch, the trick is that little and often is always better. We recommend you follow the cleaning tips below once a week to keep your couch in good condition.

Cleaning an Upholstered Couch

Take your vacuum cleaner and use a light setting and preferably an upholstery attachment and go over the couch, including along the back and the arms. Take off all of the cushions and vacuum up crumbs, dirt, and pieces of food that have slipped down under the cushions.

A regular vacuuming removes not just crumbs and dirt but germs that rest on the surface of the fabric, particularly if you regularly have your pet on the couch, too.

Cushion covers can be removed and taken outside to be shaken or beaten over a washing line to remove more ingrained dirt. Some cushion covers can even be put in the washing machine if they’re made of a more durable fabric but you must always check the label to make sure this is an option. However, many people prefer not to put their covers in the washing machine because they find they can’t get the right shape back again afterwards.

For small stains on the sofa, use distilled water mixed with a water-based cleaning solution and put into a spray bottle. Spray the solution lightly onto the fabric and dab the area with a cloth. Never rub the cleaning solution into the couch, as it can only stain the area further. Instead, always dab lightly.

If your couch label specifies a solvents-only cleaning process, first ventilate your living room and then apply the dry-cleaning solvent to the area you want to clean. Gently work the stain out with an upholstery brush.

Take away excess moisture with a dry cloth lightly pressed on the fabric, and then leave the couch to air dry. If cleaning a stain on a cushion, don’t put it back on the sofa until it’s dry.

Cleaning a Leather Couch

While leather makes for a more expensive material, it’s so much easier to keep clean and is often the fabric of choice for those with allergies to dust because it doesn’t hold dust and dirt the same way upholstery couches do.

Once again, vacuum first to get off all your pet hair, crumbs from the toast the kids ate earlier, and germs. Many vacuum cleaners come with more than one brush attachment to choose from.

Then, it’s as easy as wiping down the couch with a microfiber cloth or even antibacterial wipes, which are a great way to keep your leather couch protected against bacteria.

To get rid of marks and stains, you can begin to introduce soft cleaning products, starting with regular dish soap and water, dabbed into the marks with a cloth. If the dish soap doesn’t do the trick, then try a 50/50 solution of a cup warm water mixed with a cup vinegar as an effective yet still gentle cleaner.

If there’s grease on the leather, make a solution of warm water and baking soda. Baking soda has active agents that lift dirt from all manner of materials without damaging them.

If you’re not sure about whether your cleaners will damage your furniture, first do a spot test in a small area that’s not usually on show, such as the back of the couch. Wait to see the results before you apply the product to the rest of the couch.

Cleaning an X-Code Couch

If your couch is marked as an X for cleaning products, then don’t use any products on the piece of furniture, including water, which can stain.

Instead, lightly vacuum the couch and cushions only, using the correct brush attachment.

How to Deep Clean a Couch

Sometimes, the regular light cleaning just won’t do. Maybe the kids have had an accident on the couch, or you’ve got something tough like blood on it (click here for our guide for cleaning blood off upholstery), or maybe you’ve bought a second-hand sofa but want to give it a thorough cleaning once you get it home.

In that case, deep cleaning is the answer, and the best method of deep cleaning your couch is to use a steam cleaner. The beauty of steam cleaners is that it’s not so much the detergent or chemical used, but the steam itself. High heat kills bacteria, tackles odors, and lifts stains.

A good handheld steamer will work well without any added products but if the stains or odors are more stubborn, add an approved steam cleaning upholstery cleaner, and be sure to read the instructions on the back of the bottle and spot test as normal (always check steam cleaning is appropriate for your fabric before proceeding).

Odors can also be treated with a sprinkling of baking soda over the cushions, which is left for a while, and then vacuumed away.

How to Remove Stains From a Couch

Stains on your couch are an unfortunate occurrence from time to time, whether from glasses of red wine slipping out of hands or the occasional spill of coffee. Don’t worry, though: acting fast is the key. A dry cloth immediately dabbed on the area will soak up much of the offending product.

Cleaning your couch of tougher stains depends on the type of fabric your sofa is made of, so once again go back to the label.

For fabrics that can take water-based products, it’s not always necessary to use a commercial upholstery cleaner. Here’s where your cup water/cup vinegar solution in a spray bottle will be your best friend.

Spray, dab, and repeat the process until the stain has lifted. It may take several applications to get rid of the stain completely, so if your pure white sofa just won’t recover from the red wine spill, call a professional cleaner to your home. Their whole job is couches, and they’ll know what to do!

Grease stains can be dried out and lifted using baking soda, and this applies to both fabric and leather couches in your home. For a biro mark on a leather sofa, a small amount of rubbing alcohol applied with a Q-tip can lift the ink, but it can also dry out the leather, so be sure to treat the leather of your couch with some good-quality leather furniture cream afterwards.


Good couch care can mean the most-used item in the home will last much longer than expected! By following the instructions carefully and being sure to use the right products for your couch, you’ll find that the family sofa will look and smell great.

Green Home

How to Remove Mildew On Wood Furniture

Learn how to remove mold and mildew using regular household cleaning items.

Remove Mildew On Wood Furniture Featured

Our homes are filled with wood furniture. From desks to beds, chairs to bookshelves, we’ve been using wood to furnish the home for over 10,000 years.

Unfortunately, wood furniture is highly susceptible to mold and and mildew, particularly if it’s been left in humid or damp conditions for too long. Whether you’ve been living in a house with mold problems or have purchased an antique beauty that has grown mold spores, you’ll want to get rid of the mold as soon as possible.

With a few simple solutions, many of them easily found in regular household items, you’ll be able to remove mold from wood furniture and soon have your items looking as good as new.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew From Wood Furniture

The important thing to know before you tackle the problem is what type of mold your wood furniture is growing.

If your furniture is painted, stained or varnished, then there’s a good chance that the mold or mildew is sitting on top of the wood and hasn’t yet penetrated beneath the surface. If that’s the case, then this is great news.

Either way, you shouldn’t take mold spores lightly. These tiny spores are found in the air all around a mold patch and can easily be inhaled, potentially causing a serious health hazard. So, before you tackle your mold problem, get on the safety goggles, air mask and rubber gloves.

Don’t use your nice clothes, as this is dirty work! The last thing you want is stains on your favorite jeans when you’re battling mildew.

Move the furniture to an area with good ventilation not just for your health, but to stop the mold from spreading to other pieces of furniture. If possible, take the furniture outside and tackle it there, as opposed to inside the home.

Removing Surface Mold from Wood Furniture

Wearing gloves, swipe across the mold and see if the wood underneath is still intact. If it is, then it’s likely you only have surface mildew. One way to tackle this is to get a vacuum cleaner, preferably one with a HEPA filter, and remove the mold this way.

Once you’ve done this, remove the vacuum bag outside where there’s plenty of ventilation, put it into a separate plastic bag, tie it up and dispose of it safely.

Once you’ve removed as many of the spores as possible with the vacuum cleaner, the remainder can be cleaned off with a mild solution made from dishwashing detergent mixed with some warm water. By cleaning the wood surfaces with a soft bristled brush or cloth, you should find that the mold spores lift easily.

For molds that have spread for a longer time and have taken hold a little more strongly, then the cleaning process may need to be a little more rigorous and you’ll need to apply white vinegar to the affected area.

By filling a spray bottle with white vinegar you can cover a larger surface area evenly, without concentrating too much one on spot. There’s no need to dilute the vinegar with water, as it will not cause stains on your wood.

Leave the vinegar to kill off the fungus spores on the wood surface over the following hour and once you return, wipe off again with a clean towel. It helps if the towel is slightly damp.

Go over the wood surface again, now with a dry towel, in order to catch any loose spores. Mold is a live fungus that only needs a small amount to be left behind for the whole process to begin all over again.

Removing Deep Mold from your Furniture

If you’ve tried cleaning the mold off using the dishwashing detergent and soft bristled brush approach and it’s either reappeared quickly or seems to be under the wood surface, then you’ll need to make up a stronger cleaning solution or even look at more practical methods to remove the mold.

Those rubber gloves and face mask from earlier are even more vital now! Furniture that has been sitting for long periods of time in conditions with very high moisture levels, for example extreme humidity or after flooding, may have developed black mold.

Black mold, or stachybotrys chartarum, is a toxic type of mold that appears more slimy than the powdery surface mold found in less severe cases. It often makes the furniture smell musty and damp, but don’t get too close for a sniff as you don’t want to inhale any of these potentially toxic spores.

You might think that bleach is the answer but you’d be surprised. Bleach isn’t as likely to remove mold from wood furniture as you might think. Rather than killing the mold or mildew, bleach is more likely to blanche the color of the spores so they’re less easy to spot, but still present and active.

Bleach can also end up leaving a stain on your wooden furniture without affecting mold growth, so no matter what you’ve heard, put down the bottle of bleach and look for something that’ll do a much better job.

A mold removal expert is likely to recommend a borax solution rather than bleach. Borax is a white powder found with other cleaning solutions in your local store. Use one cup of borax in a gallon of hot or very warm water, mix well and apply the solution to the affected area.

Scrub with a coarser scrub brush than the soft bristled brush from earlier. You may need to try a different scrub brush attachment if the first doesn’t work. Once you’ve tackled all the mold, don’t worry about rinsing off the borax solution as you want it to continue working even after you’ve scrubbed the wood.

Leave to air dry, preferably in the sunlight. Mold is like a vampire: it thrives in the dark and hates the sun. The UV rays help to kill mildew and mold so feel free to leave the furniture outside until dark if it’s a dry, sunny day.

What to Do When the Mold Won’t Leave!

If you’ve tried the household detergent and water solution, the vinegar in a spray bottle method, and even the borax solution and you still can’t shift the mold, then it may be in too deep.

Take some sandpaper and gently sand off the mold until you can’t see any more. Start with a finer grain of sandpaper then work up to a coarser sanding if you need to get deeper. Once you’ve finished sanding the affected area, use the vacuum to remove to remove dust, take the bag out, and dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag.

It’s still a good idea to treat the deeper wood with the borax and water solution to snuff out any chance of the mold returning. Air dry in the sun, and only when the furniture is completely dry (this may require several days) should you refinish the wood with sealant or paint to stop the mildew from returning.

If the piece of furniture is already too damaged by the mold and cleaning would make no difference, then consider having the affected area cut out altogether and replaced. If this is an antique piece of wood furniture, you will need to contact an expert restorer to do the job for you.

If all else fails, you may need to replace it. We recommend you check out our sustainable furniture guide, packed full of great eco-friendly furniture manufacturers.

How to Prevent Wood Furniture From Getting Moldy Again

Even if you’re now an expert with your vinegar spray bottle and borax water combination, it doesn’t mean you’ll be rid of mold for good. It’s always better to treat the environment as opposed to dealing with mold and mildew outbreaks.

If your home suffers from damp, take steps to rectify the problem and if you’re a renter, then approach your landlord. All the detergent products in the world are pointless if the environment is making the mildew thrive. Besides, even if your furniture remains unaffected, your health won’t.

Mildew and mold are notorious for exacerbating lung conditions and causing chronic illnesses, which is all the more reason to get on top of the issue as soon as possible.

Use air conditioning and de-humidifiers to reduce moisture in the air so that you’re not allowing any mildew to take hold. If one piece of wood furniture is affected by mold, move it away from the others so as not to cross-contaminate, and deal with it effectively.

Always clean affected wood furniture outside of the home and once you’re done, throw away all of the materials you’ve used, including any cloth, brush, air mask or glove in a sealed plastic bag.


There’s no reason to give up on a piece of furniture just because it’s suffering with a mildew issue. As long as you follow the steps above, use the right cleaning products for the right surfaces, and take active environmental measures to stop it recurring, you can conquer this problem for good.

Green Home

How to Clean Non-Removable Couch Cushions

Learn how to clean and remove stains from those tricky non-removable couch cushions.

How to Clean Non Removable Couch Cushions

When we choose a new sofa, we usually look for two things: how it looks, and how comfortable the cushions are. We don’t often worry about whether the cushion covers are removable… until they need cleaning!

So, if you and your cushion covers are in a bit of a sticky spot, don’t worry, as these cushion cleaning tips have you covered.

Cleaning Non-Removable Cushion Covers

You’re not likely to find leather sofas with non removable cushion covers, so this article is looking primarily at fabric and upholstery couches and their non removable cushions. If you have a leather sofa that needs cleaning, we recommend you check out our comprehensive coach cleaning guide.

Let’s get started:

Step 1: Vacuuming your Cushion Covers

First, your couch cushions will immediately look better after a light vacuuming. Find the upholstery attachment (it’ll have a soft brush) and go over the couch to remove surface dirt, dust, hair, pet hair and general debris from your sofa cushions.

Some vacuum cleaners may be without an upholstery brush attachment. If that’s the case, be careful when using the vacuum on your cushions and use a low power setting so as not to mark or tear the fabric in the process.

Step 2: Give Your Cushion Covers a Good Beating!

Even if the cushion cover is not removable, the cushions themselves may be. If you can, remove them and give them a good beating outside – this is a great way to remove dust and debris. Then, you can tackle any stain you may find. Skip this step if your cushions cannot be removed from your couch at all

Step 3: Check Your Cushion’s Label

Because there are so many different types of fabric, you should always consult the care label on your couch. It is usually found under one of the cushions or at the back of the couch itself. This will tell you how to clean the cushions.

Check if you can use water based products on your cushions, or whether you’re restricted to a dry cleaning solvent stain remover before tackling any stain on your chair. Always test a cleaning product on a small non-visible area of your couch or cushion before using it somewhere it might be seen.

Step 4a: Cleaning Non-Removable Cushions With Water-Based Cleaning Products

If your care tag shows either a W or an S/W, then you can use water-based products. When tackling stains and marks, first try a solution of dish soap and warm water on a paper towel or sponge. Dab the stain on your cushion cover and don’t scrub – scrubbing can push the stain deeper into the cushion stuffing.

If the soap and water concoction doesn’t work, then it’s time to give the couch cushion a more thorough cleaning with some more active cleaning products. That doesn’t mean you have to rush down to your local hardware stores just yet, though.

A solution of warm water and baking soda can work wonders when applied to stains and is particularly effective when it comes to grease. Allow the active agents in the soda to lift the grease and then dab the affected area of the cushion cover with a cloth.

Similarly, a solution of equal parts vinegar and water applied with a cloth can take out plenty of stains without damaging the fabric of your cushions. If you’re not sure whether the material will discolor, try first on a piece of fabric from a hidden area of the sofa, such as the back, before you try it on the stain itself.

Step 4b: Cleaning Cushions With Solvent-Based Cleaning Products

There are some fabrics that will carry an S on their care tag, and this means that no water whatsoever should come near the fabrics. In this case, use a recommended solvent-based cleaner to tackle stains but always ventilate the room first.

You can use a little ingenuity to make this easier by grabbing an air compressor from your office (if they have one) or borrowing one from a friend. Apply the solvent-based cleaner or foam to your non removable cushion cover, and once it’s done its job, blast it away with the air compressor. No more stain, but no water comes into contact with the cushion cover.

Step 5: Using Steam to Clean Non-Removable Couch Cushions

Even couches that shouldn’t have water in liquid form can benefit from another form: steam. Steam cleaning is a highly effective way of cleaning sofa cushions. The steam itself can work wonders, but you may also be able to add either soap or a specially designed cleaning product to the steam cleaner to really give your non removable couch cushion covers a deep clean.

The heat from the steam draws out dirt and and stains that the vacuum cleaner may have found too stubborn. Steam cleaning also destroys bacteria and removes unpleasant smells on your cushions from pet hair, older fabric and spills that have been dry for a while.

While a steam cleaner is a great investment for many areas of the house, it doesn’t mean you have to buy one. Instead, check local hardware shops and other local businesses who rent out steam cleaners for these kinds of jobs.

Step 6: Dry Your Cushions in the Sun

If you have someone to help you, take the couch or the cushions outside to dry in the sunshine. This is a particularly good tip for when your cushions have been damp and have developed mold in some areas, as the UV rays from the sun kill mold cells.

How to Clean Tough Stains on Non-Removable Couch Cushions

If the above steps don’t help, you may need to investigate a solution for the specific stain that is on your cushion. There’s a solution for most problems: Ice cubes can be used to freeze chewing gum, so that you can then just pick it off. Rubbing alcohol applied to your sofa cushions with a clean cloth can lift ink stains. An enzyme cleaner removes blood, vomit, urine and other unpleasant liquids.

When to Call the Professionals

If you’ve tried all the above cleaning tips for your chair cushions and nothing’s worked, it’s okay to admit defeat! Call a professional chair or couch cleaning company in your area who specialize in cushions and who will have all the quality cleaning items and the experience to tackle any stain.


Non-removable cushion covers don’t have to be such a headache! Following the tips above, you can clean almost any issue with your couch cushions. Once you’ve cleaned your couch or chair cushion, keep it in good conditions with a regular going-over with the vacuum cleaner. This will save you a lot of bother and help you keep your sofa cushions looking and smelling fresh.

Green Home

How to Apply Polyurethane to Your Table

Learn how to add polyurethane to your table to protect it from damage, increase its resiliency, and make it more beautiful.

Applying Polyurethane to Table

Editors note: we are currently assessing whether this article meets our sustainability standards – stay tuned for an update!

Your table sees more than its fair share of action during the day. It’s at the center of your home, and it’s no surprise that it gets its shares of dings and scrapes during every day use. But if shabby-chic isn’t your style, a dinged up piece of furniture may not suit your home.

Applying coats of polyurethane to your dining room or kitchen table will protect it from damage and make it more beautiful. A polyurethane finish provides long-lasting durability and resiliency and keeps your table looking new and fresh even as it gets older. Applying polyurethane is a great way to refresh an old table and give it a new lease of life.

This is a project that even a novice DIYer can take on and find success. By protecting your table you’ll reduce waste by ensuring it lasts longer before you need to purchase a new one. Read on for everything you need to know about applying polyurethane to your table and breathing new life into the centerpiece of your room.

Oil vs. Water-Based Polyurethane

The first decision you’ll have to make when it comes to using polyurethane on a dining room table is whether you’re going to go with an oil-based polyurethane or a water-based polyurethane.

Water-based polyurethane provides tremendous protection with a rockhard, durable finish that is almost crystal clear. It dries quicker but is more expensive.

Oil-based polyurethane gives even more protection but with a slightly milkier finish (it has 45-50% “poly solids” which help create the tough surface). It is cheaper and requires less maintenance because it is tougher.

Most DIYers use an oil-based polyurethane to finish their table. Not only is it cheaper, but the harder finish means you’ll need to do a lot less maintenance on it over the years and your kitchen table will be better protected. If achieving the clearest possible finish is important, then water-based polyurethane is still a good (but more expensive) choice.

Whichever option you choose, the methods and tips for applying that follow will still apply, although you will need to leave longer between coats if you are using an oil-based product.

How to Apply Polyurethane to a Dining Room or Kitchen Table

The overall process for applying poly to a table top is pretty simple and straightforward.

You will need:

  • Sandpaper (you’ll need both rough and fine sandpaper grits)
  • Mineral spirits (that’s white spirit for UK folks)
  • A microfiber cloth
  • Wood filler (for repairing damage)
  • Your choice of oil-based or water-based polyurethane
  • Foam brush (leaves fewer marks than a bristle brush) or a spray gun if you have one

Step 1: Prepare and Repair Your Table

Before you apply polyurethane you will need to prepare the surface of the table by cleaning and sanding it. Begin with a rough grit sandpaper, working your way up to finer sandpaper while sanding in circular motions until you get the tabletop surface as smooth as humanly possible.

If you have to repair any imperfections on the table surface now is the time to do it. Work some wood filler into the scratches or dings (being careful to match the wood species itself) and then sand that away after allowing it to dry, too.

Then you’re going to want to put some mineral spirits onto a microfiber cloth and wipe down the entire table surface, picking up all the dust that would have been left behind – dust that would have caused all kinds of imperfections in the poly finish. Let this dry before you apply polyurethane.

Step 2: Apply Your First Coat of Polyurethane

Table prepared? It’s time to start applying the first coat of polyurethane to the kitchen (or other) table. Your initial coat should be a very light, and it’s best if you can spray the finish directly onto the surface – avoiding all brushstrokes completely.

If that’s not possible, invest in a high quality foam brush. Foam brush tools aren’t going to leave behind the kinds of brushstrokes that can be permanent, even if you go for two coats (or three coats) later down the line.

Remember: You want each individual coat to be thin, to have plenty of time to dry and stabilize, and to minimize brush marks as much as possible.

Step 3: Allow the Polyurethane to Dry Completely

If you do not allow the polyurethane time to dry before applying additional coats you will end up with the top and final layer hard, but the layers underneath will still be soft. This will result in a finish that can be easily dented and will not protect your dining room or kitchen table.

Always use as thin a layer as possible and leave plenty of time to dry (check the instructions on the can for the minimum time for your choice of polyurethane – probably 24- 48 hours).

Step 4: Add Additional Coats of Polyurethane

Once the initial coat has dried completely (check your instructions, probably 24-48 hours for oil-based) you’ll want to add additional coats. You’ll get better protection and finish by having many coats of polyurethane rather than one thick one.

First though, you should prepare the surface with some light sanding. You always need to sand before adding an additional coat, not just if the layer is too thick or has small bubbles in. By giving the polyurethane a quick go-over with sandpaper (say, 300 grit) you’ll help the next layer stick to it. When sanding between layers, go with the grain.

Always vacuum or wipe with a lint-free cloth to remove dust before moving to the next step.

Step 5: Finish the Polyurethane-Coated Table With Sanding and/or Wax

Use a fine sandpaper (1,500 grit) to get off any small imperfections or bubbles on the final coat. After allowing the polyurethane time to cure (up to a month), you might want to add wax on the top. This doesn’t add much in the way of protection (the polyurethane is tough enough as it is) but some prefer the look.

How Many Coats of Polyurethane on a Kitchen Table?

A kitchen table should have at least three coats of polyurethane and can benefit from more. Many coats of polyurethane (thin layers) will provide better protection and help your kitchen table to last longer. Some guides recommend a minimum of two coats, but this is unlikely to be enough for an item that gets so much use.

Should You Use a Spray or Brush for Applying Polyurethane?

You should apply polyurethane to your kitchen table using a spray if possible. This is the only way to guarantee that brush strokes never show up in each individual coat of polyurethane (permanently shining through each individual layer). Spraying your finish on to your kitchen table will result in a better result than if you used a brush.

Polyurethane Application Tips

  • If you apply polyurethane over a table with a paint finish it may cause the paint to yellow and you may want to consider other types of finishes instead.
  • When spraying, make sure that you are aware of the width of the spray pattern and tried to “bleed back” into at least half of each coat as you move across the table.
  • Look for wet and glossy consistencies across the entirety of the surface when spraying. If you see any spots that look cloudy or milky, it’s time to go back over them with another jet of finish.
  • When spraying be sure that you are doing so in a well ventilated area; the VOCs put out by this kind of finish can be devastating to your health and wellness. For best protection, always wear a mask that can filter out VOCs.
  • If brushing, make sure that you use a foam brush tool and not the natural bristle options most people use for painting. Bristly brushes may leave visible brush strokes on your kitchen table.
  • Really take your time, especially if you’re using water based finishes as they can leave a streaky finish.
  • Whatever you do, recognize right away that you’re going to have to apply multiple layers and coatings of finish to get the results you’re after. Don’t be impatient.


At the end of the day, the beautiful thing about polyurethanes (when applied correctly, anyway) is that they offer a fantastic protective layer to your furniture in a way that things like shellac, urethane, and traditional paint and stain simply can’t.

Just be sure that you are following the “rules” and best practices of how to apply these coatings (especially when it comes to the first few coats and the final coat) and you’ll end up with a wood finish you will love and depend on for years to come!

Green Home

Is Bamboo Really As Sustainable As Big Brands Tell You?

Often touted as a green and eco-friendly material, bamboo isn't always quite as good as brands make out

Is Bamboo Sustainable Featured

Bamboo is a fast-growing material that can be used in the production of many different products, including clothing, fuel, furniture, and food. It is often touted by manufacturers as a green and eco-friendly material – but is it?

Bamboo is sustainable when it is grown organically and used naturally, such as when it is used to make furniture. Unfortunately, many uses of bamboo are not eco-friendly because of the manufacturing processes used.

So, the bamboo toothbrush sitting in your bathroom is probably sustainable because the raw bamboo is biodegradable, but a t-shirt made from bamboo fibers is less likely to be sustainable because it has been chemically treated.

Of course, it’s not just about the manufacturing process. The way the bamboo is mass-produced and grown can also affect how sustainable it is – although, as we’ll see, bamboo can be grown sustainably with little chemical use. Let’s take a closer look at how bamboo is cultivated, harvested, shipped, and produced into ‘eco-friendly’ products:

What is Bamboo?

Bamboo is a tree-like grass that is easy to farm and harvest. There are over 1000 species of bamboo and some variants are some of the fastest-growing plants on earth. It is also one of the few plants that do not require any chemicals to support its growth. That means it can be reliably (and profitably) grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, unlike many other natural products.

As well as growing faster, bamboo also converts carbon dioxide into oxygen up to 35% faster than a similar group of trees – although, of course, that carbon dioxide is likely to be released should the bamboo product become waste. It can be found growing in Africa, the USA, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

Bamboo plants grow slowly at first and take about five years to reach maturity, after which they exhibit that astonishingly fast growth that you probably associate with bamboo. After the bamboo reaches maturity, it can be harvested annually; you only have to plant the bamboo once and then you can harvest it many times. This compares very favorably with woods that might take 30 years to grow and can then only be harvested once.

When is Bamboo Sustainable?

In its raw form, bamboo is considered highly sustainable and a great choice for eco-conscious customers. It grows fast without chemicals, can be harvested every year, and the resulting product is strong, looks good, and will biodegrade once its useful life has ended.

One small negative is that because it is farmed mainly in China and India, there is very little information about how it is grown. It is possible chemical fertilizers are used to speed up the growth, although that is not typically necessary for growing bamboo and so it is not likely.

So natural bamboo is eco-friendly, but is bamboo sustainable once it’s been turned into the products you buy in the shops? The answer is it depends. Any use of bamboo in its natural form is pretty sustainable because of the reasons listed above. This includes furniture and construction uses (check out this extensive guide we’ve created on sustainable construction materials if you want to know more).

However, as we’ll see in the next sections, common bamboo fabric such as rayon is not so sustainable. To create this, the bamboo undergoes significant chemical treatment, making the final product semi-synthetic rather than natural.

Additionally, any discussion of the sustainability of bamboo should include shipping. Most bamboo is grown in Asia. This means it is often shipped to other countries to be used. This is no different from many other products and materials, but does add to the overall carbon footprint of bamboo if you are purchasing it in the USA or Europe.

Is Bamboo Furniture Sustainable?

Yes. When bamboo is used in furniture it is considered a sustainable and renewable material, making it a great choice for eco conscious consumers who are looking for stylish furniture for their homes. Compared to many hardwoods used in furniture, bamboo is quicker to grow and renews annually. It also does not need any pesticides to grow.

Strong and robust, bamboo is often used as a construction material, so your bamboo furniture is likely to last for a long time. Most manufacturers also laminate the bamboo materials before turning it into furniture to further strengthen the end product. With proper care and maintenance, bamboo furniture can last for years.

Bamboo furniture looks good too – it has a fine, natural grain that is simple yet elegant, and can be finished or stained to match other pieces in your home – and best of all, bamboo furniture is relatively cost-effective compared to other materials.

Overall, bamboo is a good choice for furniture. We suggest you stick to brands that not only guarantee the sustainability of the bamboo they are using but also offer fair wages and working practices for the farmers who are growing it.

Are you interested in sustainable furniture? Check out our mammoth sustainable furniture guide for more information, including brand reviews and a buyers guide.

Are Bamboo Clothes Sustainable?

There are two ways to use bamboo to create fabric:

First, you can weave bamboo fibers and spin a thread. This creates what is known as bamboo linen. This process is sustainable; however, the resulting bamboo linen is not soft to the skin or comfortable to wear, and the manufacturing process is also time-consuming and expensive. This process is rarely used, and you are unlikely to see bamboo linen clothing for sale on the high street.

Secondly, and far more commonly, bamboo is turned into a fabric called rayon through the use of one of several chemical processes. These processes are faster, cheaper, and more convenient than bamboo linen and create a better fabric but are also less sustainable. These processes are not considered a ‘closed loop’ because chemicals used in the manufacturing process (including carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide) are lost into waste water. From there, they enter the environment and cause damage.

Unfortunately, these chemical processes have another side effect. Bamboo’s excellent UV resistance and antibacterial properties – two benefits manufacturers are often quick to quote when advertising bamboo products – have not been proven to still work after undergoing these chemical processes.

The one decent alternative is bamboo rayon created using a chemical process known as the Lyocell process (often advertised using the brand Tencel). The bamboo rayon creating using this process uses fewer chemicals and more than 99% of the water and solvents used can be recovered,  which makes it better for the environment than viscose rayon. 

Unfortunately, lyocell rayon is more expensive than viscose rayon, so you don’t see it used that much. Most bamboo clothing is produced unsustainably but marketed as a green product. This ‘greenwashing’ confuses consumers and tricks them into believing they are making an environmentally-friendly purchase when they actually aren’t.

Overall, organic cotton is a better alternative to bamboo fabric in most cases. Consumers who want to buy bamboo fabric or clothes should carefully check the brand’s eco-credentials to see which process they are using, how efficient it is, and what the likely problems it might cause before they purchase bamboo rayon clothing.

Bamboo Toilet Roll

Bamboo toilet roll is a great alternative to normal toilet roll, which is normally created using virgin hardwood. This has led to deforestation and the removal of natural habitats; bamboo is a much more renewable source. To make matters worse, these toilet rolls are then packed in plastic packaging!

Several companies now offer bamboo toilet rolls instead. These are better for the environment and packed in environmentally friendly packaging. Bamboo can produce strong fibers without the assistance of chemicals and regrows fast, which means its ideal.

Since there are no chemicals used for manufacturing the product, if it ends up in the landfill, bamboo toilet rolls easily return to the earth. Rest assured that it will not release toxins or chemicals as it decomposes.

Like many eco-friendly choices, this does come with a higher price, but we believe it’s worth it to protect the environment.

Interested? Here are a few brands you might want to try:

Who Gives a Crap creates toilet roll from 100% bamboo, ships in eco-friendly packaging, and donate 50% of their profits to building toilets for people who don’t have them.

No. 2 offers FSC-certified bamboo toilet roll. They’re also known for their eye-catching packaging designs, which are made using soy-ink.

Bim Bam Boo is also made with FSC-certified bamboo and is aimed at women. It is guaranteed free of any ingredients that could disrupt vaginal pH.

Bamboo Biofuel

In some parts of the world, the bamboo plant is used to produce biofuel. This is when the bamboo is converted into solid, gas, or liquid fuel to provide energy. This can be done in several ways – in biomass-fed combustion plants, through the production of bioethanol, by using the bamboo to create biocrude oil, and even by using it to create a combustible gas.

Check out this detailed (and rather technical) scientific paper if you want to know more.

Should an Eco-Conscious Consumer Buy Bamboo Products?

With the exception of clothing and fabric, eco-conscious consumers should buy and use bamboo products. It’s not perfect (nothing is), but because it grows fast, has little need for pesticides or fertilizers, and decomposes naturally, it is overall a very good choice. It’s also durable, easy-to-clean, and looks nice when used for furniture. For clothing we suggest organic cotton as a better alternative to bamboo fabric; clothes made from sustainable bamboo use unsustainable manufacturing processes that harm the environment. 

As always, we recommend you check an individual brand’s eco-credentials before purchasing, but if the product is made from natural bamboo that hasn’t been chemically treated, it should be eco-friendly.

Green Home

How to Remove Black Stains From Hardwood Floors

Learn how to remove black stains from your beautiful hardwood floor

Remove Black Stains On Hardwood Floors Featured

Black stains on hardwood floors can ruin the appearance of an otherwise beautiful hardwood floor. How can you remove these stains from your flooring, and which is the best way to go? Let’s find out.

To remove the black stain on your floor, you can use hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or baking soda. If the stain is particularly tough and you cannot get it clean, you may need to have the floor sanded, but that should be a last resort.

What Causes Black Stains on Wood Floors?

Black stains on hardwood floors are often caused by grime and dirt, pet urine, or mold. In the case of grime and dirt, a lack of regular maintenance can contribute to the severity of the stain by allowing dust and dirt to buildup on your floor and give mold an opportunity to grow undisturbed. In most cases, the longer you leave the stain, the harder it will be to clean.

  1. Grime, dust and dirt – Left to accumulate, everyday dust and dirt can cause dark, stubborn stains that can be tough to get rid of and may damage the entire floor surface and finish of your hardwood floor. If cleaned regularly, these should wipe off easily.
  2. Pets – Pet urine can cause large dark stains on wood flooring if they are not cleaned in time. Try to clean pet urine up quickly and train your pets to ensure this doesn’t happen.
  3. Mold and moisture – A damp house may experience dark water stains on wood. You may also see spots of mold growing in these dark and damp corners. Mop up excess moisture and water and consider taking steps to decrease the humidity in your home.
  4. Other Stains – Other causes of dark stains on your hardwood floor include ink spots, coffee stains, blood or food stains.

How Do You Remove Black Stains from Hardwood Floors?

Here are three methods to remove dark stains from wood without sanding (plus a note on how to sand if you need to). Please note that if you have white stains, these methods may be inappropriate. If your wood has a finish on it, then some of these substances may remove that finish.

If you are concerned about damaging your hardwood floor we recommend you consult with a professional first. This can be expensive, but they will be able to help you remove stains and dark water stains without damaging an expensive floor. Proceed at your own risk!

Warning: Wash your hands with water after you finish and follow any safety advice given, especially when handling hydrogen peroxide. We recommend you wear gloves and goggles.

How to Remove Dark Stains on Wood Flooring With Baking Soda

Baking soda, like white vinegar, is a natural substance that you can use to help clean black stains from your wood floor. Mix equal parts of water and baking soda together to create a paste and then rub it over the stain using a circular motion. Wipe away once you are finished.

How to Remove Black Stains From Hardwood Floors With Hydrogen Peroxide

With its antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties and its ability to bleach wood, hydrogen peroxide is an effective cleaning solution for all types of stains, including water stains.

You will need:

  1. A bottle of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
  2. A spray bottle
  3. A lint-free microfiber cleaning cloth
  4. A pair of rubber cleaning gloves

To remove a black stain, spray or dab 3-percent hydrogen peroxide solution only on to the areas which are stained. Check back regularly to see if the wood has bleached back to it’s normal color (this may take several hours). Remove excess with a dry cloth.

A word of warning: the bleaching effect could make your wood lighter than you want if you are not careful, particularly if you get it on unstained wood. If you bleach the wood too much, you will need to sand it and then refinish it. Always use safety precautions when you use hydrogen peroxide to remove the stain.

To get rid of larger, darker marks, you can leave a hydrogen peroxide-soaked towel over the area for a few hours and then remove it and allow the wood surface or wood floor to dry.

How to Remove Black Stains From Hardwood Floors With Vinegar

Using white vinegar is a popular method used for removing common stains – including pet urine, dirt and grime, and dark water marks – from your hardwood floor. Naturally acidic, the vinegar will lighten and remove black stains. This method uses the same white vinegar you can buy in any local store:

Mix a white vinegar and water solution (1:1) and then apply to the stain. You can either leave it on there or scrub with a cloth. Like hydrogen peroxide, vinegar is a bleaching agent, so check back regularly and do not leave for too long. you must be careful with how much you use.

Warning: the bleaching effect of vinegar could damage your floor. We’d recommend you use the baking soda method (above).

How to Remove Stains on Wood Floors By Sanding

Sanding does remove marks, but it is a lengthy process. First, apply masking tape to protect unstained wood around the stain. Next, use fine grit sandpaper or fine steel wool to sand the stain. You may need to follow this up with a bleaching solution like hydrogen peroxide. If you have bleached the stain, you may then need to stain the wood to match the rest of the floor.

How to Protect Hardwood Flooring Against Black Stains

Keep in mind that it is easier to remove a stain before it has time to permeate and seep into the wood. Prevention is always better than cure. If you have a new wood floor, or have recently removed marks from your flooring, now is the time to take steps to keep it stain-free.

We recommend you:

  1. Protect Your Floor – Waxes and other finishes can help protect your wood floor from both dark stains and white marks. Consult a professional if you are unsure which finish is best for your particular wood. Investment now can give your wood floor many more years of life.
  2. Clean Regularly – Regular cleaning can help stop dirt and grime from building up. Try to avoid using water to clean hardwood floors, since this can create marks and instead only use a cleaning product that is designed for your type of floor.
  3. Clean Spilled Water Immediately – Your wood floor will absorb any water left sitting on it. Always clean these spills immediately to prevent marks.
  4. Use Rugs Strategically – If you have an area where water is frequently spilled, consider using a rug. The rug will soak up the water and help protect the floor. However, a damp rug could still lead to black stains.
  5. Train Pets – Pet urine not only smells bad, but can cause bad stains on your floor. Train your pets so you don’t have to worry about this!
  6. Watch out with Indoor Plants – Many plant pots allow water out the bottom. If you have plant pots sitting on your floor it could be creating dark marks underneath it. Always use a pot saucer for it.
  7. Keep Humidity in Check – The more humid your house is, the more likely you’ll get spots of damp appearing. When your floor gets damp, you start to get staining. You may need ventilation or a dehumidifier to solve the problem.

Will Hydrogen Peroxide Damage My Hardwood Floor?

It can have a bleaching effect which aids stain removal. If left on too long, or a solution that is too strong is used, it could bleach the wood too much. We recommend you use it carefully and test on a small area first.

Can You Use Mineral Spirits to Clean Hardwood Flooring?

Mineral spirits can be used to clean white marks on hardwood floors. To do this, add some mineral spirits to a very fine steel wool and then rub gently. We have not of them being used for dark stains.

Green Home

How to Remove Pet Stains from Hardwood Floors

Learn the best ways to remove pet stains from hardwood floors (and the common methods you should avoid)

How To Remove Pet Stains On Hardwood Floors Featured

Unless your dog or cat is housetrained, having them inside means you risk the possibility of walking into a puddle of urine. Nobody wants to see -or clean- pet urine or urine stains off their gleaming hardwood floors. You don’t want to smell the urine, either. But, how do you get rid of urine stain and odor?

How to remove pet stains from hardwood floors?

You can remove pet stains and odor from your floor and or another surface using cleaning solutions and methods such as hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, enzyme-based cleaners, and even blotting paper. Avoid vinegar and bleach as these may cause damage.

Hardwood floors are porous and contain many small holes that can hold moisture, making them easy to stain. The substances recommended below help to remove moisture from those spots and so clean the mess. Let’s take a closer look at what to use, and perhaps more importantly, what not to use to remove pet stains and odor.

4 Ways To Clean Pet Stains on Your Hardwood Flooring

Here are some great ways to remove pet stains-and odors from your wood without sanding or damaging your floor. 

1 – Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide prevents the wood of your floor from soaking up the urine, and subsequently controls the spread of any bacteria in the area surrounding the stain, effectively drying up pet urine. 

It also neutralizes the ammonia found in pet pee, which will get rid of any lingering odor. A small squirt of dish soap and a pinch of baking soda along with the peroxide solution would also work, but be mindful of the correct measurements.

Will hydrogen peroxide damage wood, you ask? No, it shouldn’t, provided you use the right concentration: most cleaning solutions are 3% hydrogen peroxide. Stronger solutions may have a bleaching effect.

Warning: never mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar, another commonly recommended home cleaning solution.

2 – Baking Soda

Sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda over the stain and use a good scrub, steel wool or even a dry cloth to scrape it off your wood floor. Keep the area and the baking soda dry. The baking soda will absorb moisture and neutralize pet urine odor. It has been known to work on kid urine too, just saying.

When you use baking soda, and subsequently need to scrape it off your flooring, make sure to use the appropriate cloth, scrubs and cleaning utensils. If you are using steel wool, opt for a fine-grade one, and not the cheap one you usually find. Check with a professional if you aren’t certain which products are suitable.

3 – Enzyme-Based Cleaning Solutions

Most pet shops carry dog, cat and pet-friendly enzymatic cleaning liquids that every stain and odor fearing pet owner must have at home. These cleaners break down the uric acid found in pet urine, without affecting or degrading your hardwood floor. 

Most pets have a particular, favorite pee-spot where they keep coming back to ‘mark their territory’ by smelling lingering traces of their urine in the area. This cleaner will effectively stop your pet from coming back to his peeing place and save your hardwood from any deep or permanent damage.

4 – Blotting Paper

Having to get up close and personal with pet pee, and using elbow grease to scrub away the never ending stains on your hardwood floors is not fun. Blotting paper goes a long way to quickly soak up the urine, and controls the urine from spreading to other parts of the floor. If you clean the urine in time, this prevents staining in the first place

Besides, it is definitely a more feasible alternative to running out to your garden for some sand to soak your pets’ urine.

Two Substances You Should Never Use On Your Hardwood Floor

White Vinegar

You may think that using white vinegar, a rather popular, natural disinfectant might do the trick and remove that pesky urine stain. However, there are downsides to using a white vinegar and water based solution to clean pet stains off your hardwood floors. Being acidic in nature, the vinegar can strip away the finish of the wood and will stain and discolor your dark gleaming wood floor over time, just like bleach would. 


Using a bleach solution may seem like the best way to get rid of that awful odor. But the destruction that it may cause on not just the wooden boards of your floor, but also your carpet or any other surface would be irreparable. The acid would discolor and corrode wood floors. This discoloration would be instantaneous, and not over time, like with vinegar.

Before You Get Started

  • When using solutions like hydrogen peroxide, or any enzyme-based cleaners, make sure you are using only the right amount needed. Too much, or too little will do more harm than good to your wooden floors, and even less to remove any odors. Always check the back of the box. If you are concerned, check with a flooring professional.
  • Before you actually use any of those cleaning solutions for removing stains, first test them on a small patch of wood that is not blatantly visible. This is pretty much the same as you testing a cream on a small area of skin to check for allergies, before using it.
  • Always, always wear protective gloves while using any cleaning or disinfecting liquids.

How do you seal wood floors from animal urine and stains?

This might sound like a no-brainer, but your first step should be to house train your pets! But we recognize that even the most obliging and well trained pets may have the odd accident every now and then.

To completely protect your beautiful hardwood floors you’ll need to waterproof it by applying a finish such as a polyurethane sealant or another sealer.

Water-proofing your floors will protect them from all liquids, and make cleaning them on a daily basis all that easier. The process of water-proofing is not for novices, however, so you may prefer to have this done by a professional.

How can you remove old pet stains?

While some older pet stains might be particularly stubborn to get out of your floors, you can still use one of the methods we discussed above to remove them. If the stain is too ingrained or deep  you may need to get a professional to sand the surface of the floor down.

Can pet urine damage hardwood floors?

Yes! The longer you wait to clean it the harder it will be and the more likely you’ll have a long-term mark. Not to mention the smell… this article should tell you all you need to know about how to remove pet stains from hardwood floors.

Can you remove dog and cat stains by sanding a stain?

The objective of sanding is to remove any stain or mark on your wood, and even dents, gauges or bumps. Can sanding help remove pet stains? Yes. Depending on the quality, and the price, you can sand your wooden floor to look almost brand new. We recommend you contact a professional if you are considering removing a stain using this technique.

Sustainable Furniture

How to Remove Odor From New Wood Furniture

Learn multiple methods for removing smells from your new wood furniture

Remove Odor From New Wood Furniture Featured

We’ve all experienced it – that odor from new wood furniture that won’t go away. Some people react to this worse than others, and symptoms such as dizziness and nausea are not uncommon. If that’s you, what should you do?

The best way to remove that new wood furniture smell is by ventilating the furniture and the room with fresh air. Careful use of substances such as white vinegar, charcoal, and baking soda can also help get rid of the smell. Stay out of the room until the smell has gone.

Let’s take a look in a bit more detail:

Why Does New Wood Furniture Smell?

New wood furniture can smell for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, wood itself has a natural smell to it. Many people like this smell, but some do not and find it overwhelming. However, if you find the smell unpleasant, it is more likely to be due to the chemicals used in the furniture manufacturing process – see below.

Secondly, chemicals are often used in the production of wood furniture. This might be in the form of varnishes or paints used for decoration, glues used to stick pieces together, or it could be from chemicals used during manufacturing.

Some wood furniture, particularly those made from composite woods, are treated with chemicals such as formaldehyde during production to cure them. If the wood furniture is upholstered, the odors could also be from chemicals used to make them stain-resistant or as flame retardants.

On new furniture, these chemicals can be released into the air, creating an unpleasant odor and reducing air quality. This is known as off-gassing.

What is Off-Gassing?

Off-gassing is when gas particles and chemicals trapped in the furniture are released into the air. These are typically VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Short-term exposure to these can cause irritation to the eyes, nose & throat, dizziness, and nausea. These effects can be particularly bad for anyone with asthma, or for the young or elderly.

Many products in the home off-gas, and the EPA reports that VOC concentrations are often up to 10x higher inside a home than they are outside. This includes products such as furnishings, cosmetics, and liquids used for cleaning & disinfecting. Some building materials, office equipment (printers, scanners), and craft materials (glues, pens) also contribute.

Levels can be particularly high in new homes where everything is new and off-gassing at a high rate. Older homes tend to have lower levels.

How Long Does It Take for Wood Furniture to Off-Gas?

It’s likely that with a bit of airing, the new furniture smell will quickly go away, likely within a few days or a week. However, although the odors will be gone, it is likely to continue off-gassing for a couple of years after it has been purchased. The amounts of gas given off will be so small as to be undetectable to your nose, although you might be able to smell it if you put your nose right up to the furniture.

Is New Furniture Smell Dangerous?

Is off-gassing dangerous? Companies say no, but a small minority of consumers do report problems.

VOCs like formaldehyde can cause eye and nasal irritation, increase the risk of asthma or allergies, and – at higher levels – increase the risk of some types of cancer. The level of risk depends upon the amount you are exposed to and how long. Most furniture companies claim that the low levels present in their products do not present a risk to the public.

The US has regulations that stipulate formaldehyde levels (products should be labeled TSCA Title VI or CARB ATCM Phase II compliant), but there are no guidelines for other VOCs in residential or commercial settings.

Without further data, we recommend that you always air new wood furniture and avoid being in the same room as it until the odors have subsided (which indicates gas release has reduced to a lower level). Babies and older folks should be especially careful.

How to Remove Smell From New Furniture

The following 6 methods should help you get rid of odors from your new piece of furniture.
Before You Start: Some of the methods below involve using substances such as vinegar and baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to help get rid of the smell from your new wood furniture. These should be safe, but we recommend you check the manufacturer’s guidelines before using any substance directly on your wood furniture. Always test a new cleaning method on a small, out-of-sight area first to check it is color-safe.

Total Time Needed: 30 minutes

Things Needed

  • Charcoal
  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Air Purifier (optional)

Steps to remove smells from new furniture

Strategy 1: Air Your Furniture and Room

The most effective way to air your furniture is to place it outside. Ideal conditions are when it is sunny with a breeze, as this will air your furniture best. We do not recommend putting your furniture outside in adverse weather conditions – don’t risk ruining it.
If you cannot put your wood furniture outside, increase ventilation inside the room by opening the windows for the day to allow plenty of fresh air in. Continue to do this for a few days if necessary.

Strategy 2: Use Charcoal to Soak Up VOCs

Charcoal has been shown to soak up VOCs to improve your indoor air quality. Place some in a bowl in or on your wood furniture and leave it to help eliminate odors. Note: the charcoal requires air to be able to come in contact with the charcoal, so there’s no use leaving it in a completely sealed bag. Coffee grounds are said to have a similar effect.

Strategy 3: Deodorize with Baking Soda

Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) can also be used to soak up VOCs. This works because most VOCs are acids, and the baking soda is alkaline. When they come into contact, the baking soda reacts with and binds the VOCs.

Strategy 4: Deodorize with White Vinegar and Water

Wipe down your furniture with a mix of white vinegar and water (equal parts) followed by a dry cloth to pick up moisture. You can use a spray bottle if you want to use it on fabric or furnishings. Of course, this may just replace the wood smell with a vinegar smell – but at least its healthier.

Strategy 5: Use an Air Purifier

Some air purifiers can remove VOCs from the air. Look for an air purifier that has a VOC absorber such as zeolite pellets or activated carbon filters.

Strategy 6: Mask the Smell

If you don’t like the new wood smell but don’t feel it is affecting your health, you could attempt to mask it with a diffuser filled with essential oils. We recommend trying to solve the source of the odor first though

Avoid New Furniture Smell By Buying From Sustainable & Non-Toxic Brands

The best solution is prevention: if you purchase sustainably-made furniture which uses fewer chemicals, you will experience less nasty smells (and a lower health risk). Check out our sustainable furniture guide here for more information and for a list of sustainable brands.

Sustainable Furniture

How to Remove Heat Stains From Wood

Learn the 7 most popular tips for removing white heat marks from wooden furniture

Remove Heat Stains From Wood Featured

A white heat stain can ruin the appearance of your wooden table or desk. Covering up the stain is a potential solution, but wouldn’t it be better to remove it? You’re in luck, as we’ve got 7 ways to remove heat stains from your wood furniture – and it can be surprisingly easy to improve the look of your wood tables or other wooden furniture.

Methods to remove white heat stains from your wood furniture include the use of common household products such as a steam iron, mayonnaise, white toothpaste, and even oil and salt. Read on to find out how and why these products work, as well as a few other methods for removing your heat stain.

p.s. if you decide you need to replace your wood furniture you might want to check out our sustainable furniture guide, which is full of eco-friendly and stylish options for your home.

What Causes Heat Marks on Wood?

When you put a hot cup of coffee or a hot pizza box onto your wood table or any kind of wood furniture, the heat from the object causes pores in the wood to open and take in moisture. As the wood cools, the pores close, and the moisture becomes trapped inside the wood surface, creating those unsightly white stains.

If you have black marks on wood, these are unlikely to be caused through everyday heat. The most likely explanations are charring, oxidation, and rotting. This article concerns white marks and the tips included will not help remove black stains. If you do have a black stain caused by water damage we recommend you check out this article on removing black stains from hardwood floors.

How to Remove Heat Marks on Wood (7 Strategies)

Here are the best ways we’ve found to remove white marks from your furniture. Please note that your results may vary according to the type of wood your furniture is made from, or if it has a varnish or finish. We strongly recommend you that you first test the method on a part of your furniture that is not visible to check that it works for you. If your wood is varnished, these methods may not work (especially if the varnish was applied after the stain was introduced) and may damage the varnish – you have been warned! If you want to minimize risk, speak to a wood restoration expert rather than going the DIY route.

Once you have removed the stain we recommend you apply a varnish to help protect the wood from future damage.

Total Time Needed: 1 hour

Using a Steam Iron

The iron method is the one users have reported the most success with. It seems paradoxical that to remove heat stains you need to apply more heat, but that is how this method works. The idea is that the iron will re-open the pores in the wood and allow the trapped moisture to be released.

First, clean the wooden table or other affected surface with a slightly damp cloth to ensure there is no dust. Then, place a cotton towel over the stained spots and put your iron on a low heat setting and place it onto the towel. Let it rest for a short time, then check. Alternatively, you can just iron the area. This should help in removing the heat stain quickly and efficiently. Don’t make it too hot or you may burn your furniture!

If this doesn’t work, use steam and repeat the process. If you don’t have a steam iron, spray some water on the towel. Just make sure not to hold it on the wood for too long. You can also hover the iron above the stain without using the towel.

White Toothpaste

White non-gel toothpaste contains baking soda which is an alkaline substance that can react with a heat stain to remove it completely. For best effect, mix the toothpaste with pure baking soda to create a paste. Mix toothpaste and baking soda together in a bowl, add a few drops of water if necessary, but it is better to try and create a paste without adding water. If you don’t have any, toothpaste can work by itself. Remember: the toothpaste method works with regular toothpaste but not gel toothpaste.

The surface needs to be completely clean and dry before attempting this method. Rub this mixture into the heat stain present on your wood surface. Wait about 10 minutes, then wipe away the toothpaste and baking soda mixture with a clean cloth.

Mayonnaise or Petroleum Jelly

Another effective way to remove white marks from wood and that makes use of items you probably have at home is the mayo method. Mayonnaise and other oily substances, like petroleum jelly, can release the trapped moisture in your wood furniture.

With a cloth, rub the mixture over the white stain. Let it set for at least one hour before cleaning it off.

Oil and Salt

Did you know oil and salt can help remove stains from wood? Apply a paste mixture of salt and olive oil into the affected area. Wait one hour then wipe off with a clean cloth

Vinegar and Oil

Mix equal amounts of olive oil and vinegar, then use the mixture to clean the heat stain. Wipe with a clean cloth, making sure you remove all the liquid.

Steel Wool

A ball of super fine steel wool (#0000) with lemon oil or olive oil can be used to clean the heat marks gently. Test first as the wrong steel wool could damage the surface of your wooden table; scratches will probably look worse than a heat stain or white mark, so be careful not to overdo it!

Sanding Your Furniture

It’s harder to remove white heat marks on older tables or furniture because the moisture is deep inside the wood. In this scenario, your only choice may be to sand the area affected by the heat stain. This involves using sandpaper to rub down the wooden table and remove the heat stain.

Once the white mark is gone you may need to repaint the table to cover the mark left by your sanding and/or clean the surface and apply a finish to protect it. If you are not confident in your DIY skills you may wish to leave this to a professional.

How to Prevent Heat Marks on Wood

It’s better to prevent heat marks than to remove them. Investing in coasters for cups and dish mats or heat mats for your meals will ensure your wood table is protected from hot items. You may also want to invest in a varnish or wax for your wood surface. These can protect against heat, water, and other common causes of white marks and stains.

How Do You get White Heat Marks Off a Wood Table?

You can remove heat stains off your wooden table using tools and substances found in your home, including an iron, toothpaste, baking soda, or even mayonnaise. 

How Do You Get a Steam Stain Out of a Wood Table?

A baking soda and toothpaste mixture is one of the most popular ways to remove steam stains from wood furniture.

Do Heat Stains Go Away in Time?

Heat stains rarely go away or fade over time without intervention. 

Sustainable Furniture

How to Clean a Bean Bag Chair

Learn how to keep all types of bean bag clean

How To Keep A Bean Bag Clean Featured

Whoever invented the bean bag chair is something of a legend. Who’d have thought that some fabric stuffed with tiny polyester balls could be so comfortable?!

Whether you’re a gamer or you love to dissolve into this comfortable squishy chair to watch a film, it’s a guarantee that your bean bag is going to see a lot of use. But, with regular use comes the big problem: how do you keep your bean bag chair clean?

Whatever the material, we’ve got you covered (just like your plush bean bag chair). Keep reading for tips for cleaning a range of different bean bag covers and tips for keeping them fresh when between cleans.

p.s. need to clean your other couch while you’re at it? Check out our guide for cleaning a couch.

How to Clean Bean Bag Chairs with Cotton Covers

Cotton is a material that takes a lot of wear, can withstand high temperatures in the washing machine, and can even go into your tumble dryer. It’s a great material if there are kids around, with their sticky fingers and clumsy ways.

If your bean bag is generally clean and there are no signs of stains, then a regular going-over with the vacuum will keep it lint and dust free. However, if it’s a chair that gets plenty of use, there may be a stale smell or a stain or two on the material.

When you open the removable cotton cover, first check to see if the beans are sealed in their own separate bag and if they are, remove this bag as one. If the filler balls inside are loose, remove the balls as carefully as possible (trust us – you really don’t want them all over your floor), putting them into a container, such as a large trash bag.

Once the balls have been removed, machine wash the cover with a little laundry detergent. Use a cool to medium heat setting and air dry once the wash is done, unless the care label states that tumble drying is fine.

How to Clean Your Bean Bag With a Suede Cover

Suede isn’t as easy to clean as cotton. You should never machine wash a suede or velvet cover, but there are other ways to stay on top of the dirt.

A vacuum cleaner will once again take off dust and crumbs. If there are stains, spot-clean these with a damp terry cloth that’s been soaked in warm water and a mild detergent. .

If the whole cover needs cleaning, first remove it and soak in a sink or tub filled with the same mix of warm water and mild detergent used above. Leave it for an hour to really help lift any stubborn or stickier stains, and then – to give it and extra clean – give it a once-over with a soft-bristled upholstery brush or even a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Brush using light, circular motions, and then when you’re done, rinse well in cold water to ensure all the soap’s gone. Don’t wring the water out, as tempting as it is. Instead, let it drip-dry over the bath or even better, outside if the weather’s good. Air dry, never tumble dry, and your cover will be good as new.

Consider investing in a suede brush or suede eraser, which is a a rubber block that allows you to rub out stains as though they were pencil errors on paper. This can be an effective way of tackling small marks and scuffs. You could try a metal suede brush but you might find it’s overkill for a bean bag.

How to Clean a Bean Bag With a Vinyl Cover

Probably the easiest of all bean bag covers to clean are vinyl bean bags! There’s no need to even remove the cover piece from the bag, although it might make it easier to get the whole thing cleaned well.

Warm water and some detergent on a damp cloth applied in a circular motion to the surface area will do the trick. A vinyl cover will even tolerate stronger cleaning products if the stain you’re trying to remove is a little bit more stubborn. Once the cleaning’s done, you’ll have the cover dry again in minutes.

Dust regularly with a clean cloth to keep it looking clean, but a vinyl bean bag chair is a dream to keep clean, even if the overall effect in your room isn’t as stylish.

Cleaning a Bean Bag With a Leather Cover

Leather is one of the most versatile and hard-wearing products that could be used in an item of furniture, and we’ve been using it for thousands of years. Even today, real leather bean bags bring warmth and class to a room and makes for a great material for bean bags.

It’s easy to clean a bean bag that’s made with leather. Run a damp cloth over the bean bag once a week, and if you need to remove stains, use a mild detergent with warm or cold water, cleaning in a circular motion. If necessary, take a soft bristled brush to more stubborn stains.

Keep your leather bean bag in tip-top condition by applying leather conditioner once every three months or so.

How to Clean a Bean Bag Chair with a Velvet Cover

Velvet should be treated in similar ways to suede, in that it should never be put into the washing machine, nor should you machine dry. Velvet is one of those materials that looks and feels great on a bean bag but can be a real pain to keep clean.

Keeping on top of it with regular spot-cleaning is going to make all the difference. Vacuum regularly as part of your household cleaning, and if there are any spills, deal with them immediately rather than letting them dry.

Warm water and mild laundry detergent will be your best friend, but it’s never a bad idea to invest in some tools to keep on top of your bean bag cover. A velvet brush is an inexpensive item and just going over the bean bag cover once a week will keep it clean.

Avoid using a stain remover unless you’re sure it won’t discolor the fabric.

It Might Look Clean… But Does it Smell Clean?

Even if our clothes look clean, they still need washing and often, it’s the scent that alerts us that it’s time they went in the wash. It’s the same with bean bag chairs.

Keeping the cover clean using the tips for each material will go a long way, but it could simply be grime and sweat that’s gone into the bag of PVC pellets. If that’s the case, freshen the pellets up by putting them in a trash bag or container, along with a sprinkling of baking soda. Give it a good shake, leave for a while, then return the pellets to the bean bag cover.

Using coffee grounds is also a nifty trick- put coffee grounds into a small, dry towel or terry cloth, tie it up with a rubber band, and slip inside the cover. This is a great way to absorb odors.

If these steps don’t help, replace the beans! You might be pulling your hair out wondering how to clean a bean bag chair that won’t smell good no matter how hard you try but fresh filler beans inside might be the answer.

How to Keep Your Bean Bags Clean (7 Tips)

Once you’ve got your bean bag clean, you’re going to wait to keep it that way:

  • Save yourself most of the work and use a vacuum on your bean bag chair regularly. A lot of marks could just be crumbs and dust.
  • Warm, soapy water and a damp cloth are your new best friend for most materials. Don’t forget those circular motions!
  • Don’t let spills dry. Tackle them immediately with your trusty damp cloth so there’s less chance of staining.
  • Stay on top of odors is half the battle. Freshen up those beans!
  • Invest in brushes for suede and velvet.
  • Never wring water out your materials: drip-dry then air dry.
  • Use a leather conditioner to keep your luxury bean bag chair in tip-top condition.


By now you’ll be fully equipped with the information of not only how to clean a bean bag chair, but how to keep it looking and smelling fresh for years of squishy comfort!