It’s an investment in the comfort and functionality of your home. As such, you want it to last for as long as possible, an outcome that requires a bit of upkeep on your part.
But that responsibility presents an obstacle of its own. You want to keep your furniture clean and as new-looking as possible, but you don’t want to do it with any chemically based products. Most of the solutions available to you on the shelves of your local grocery or home improvement store contain manmade chemical ingredients that make this goal seem like an impossible one to achieve.
Fortunately, you can have the best of both worlds by adopting a cleaning regimen free of the toxins you want to avoid. Ready to get started?
Here are five ways to care for your furniture without the use of chemicals.
1. Try baking soda
An ambient scent is one thing, but deep-set odor will hang on no matter how often you open your windows. In that scenario, try a layer of baking soda to do away with the smell. All you have to do is sprinkle the white powder over your fabric furniture — you can also do the same with carpets — and leave it to sit for a while. Baking soda is naturally absorbent, so it’ll capture the unwanted scents that have taken up residence in your furniture.
Depending on the severity of the smells, leave the baking soda in place for anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours. At the end of that period, vacuum your furniture thoroughly to remove all of the powder and, with it, the scent. In no time, you’ll know why baking soda is considered one of the best ways to neutralize unwanted odors in furniture, clothes, refrigerators — you name it.
2. Believe in the power of vinegar
So many chemical-free products have their place in your cleaning arsenal, but none is as valuable as vinegar. You can use the common kitchen-pantry item for just about anything, from removing soap scum from shower doors to softening your hair.
Of course, these handy tricks don’t do much to improve the state of your furniture. But this will:
- Grab a cloth and add a few drops of vinegar, along with a few drops of oil.
- Together, these all-natural ingredients can help restore your wood furniture to a shine.
Regular polishing is one of the best ways to maintain wood furniture, which is often a big-budget purchase for your home. In other words, you’ll want to perform this routine upkeep in order to keep your piece(s) in tip-top shape.
For other hard surfaces, you can harness the power of vinegar, too. Warm water, a squeeze of non-toxic soap and a splash of vinegar work wonders when combined. You can even mix together flour, vinegar and water to create a paste perfect for cleaning metallic furniture made of brass, bronze and copper.
As you clean with natural products like vinegar or baking soda, you might find something is lacking from your cleaning regimen: the fresh scent that comes with store-bought products. You don’t have to use manmade aromas, though. Instead, add a few drops of an essential oil in a scent you like to the cleaning solution you’ve already mixed and voila. It smells naturally amazing.
3. Try pre-made non-toxic products
With all that said, not all store-bought products are laden with chemicals. Before you go shopping, do some research into brands known to be non-toxic and effective. Then, pick up furniture care supplies that maintain your décor without any unwanted chemicals. You’ll find products like stain removers and surface cleaners that work gently and effectively on glass, metal, plastic, wood, chrome and even on your walls.
4. Pay attention to future upgrades
Down the line, furniture you bought a while ago may end up looking outdated. For that reason, you may consider a DIY project to fix up an older piece so that it appears more modern. In completing this type of upcycling, though, you need to make sure you’re using chemical-free products so your furniture continues to adhere to your all-natural lifestyle.
This is especially true when it comes to paints, which can waft volatile organic compounds. These are a large majority of the indoor pollutants that make your air unhealthy to breathe. On top of that, VOCs have long life cycles and will continue emanating their toxins months and years after you slick on that first coat of paint. Because of this, you should choose paints with no VOCs or low-VOC content.
If you feel a bit handier, your home upgrades and DIY projects might require you to build from plywood, particleboard, pressed wood or fiberboard, all of which are made with formaldehyde. Like VOCs, formaldehyde continues to emit toxins for years. Again, this doesn’t play nicely with a chemical-free lifestyle.
No chemicals required
Despite what years of cleaning experience and advertisements might have told you, you don’t need manmade products to keep your home tidy and your furniture in its best condition. Instead, a few all-natural products — combined with your elbow grease — can do just as good of a job. More importantly, though, you’ll be glad to use products gentle on the earth, your furniture and your family for years to come.
This is a guest post written by Emily Folk.
Emily is a conservation and sustainability writer.
She is the editor of Conservation Folks, and you can see her latest updates by following her on Twitter.