How to fix stained or damaged furniture

Our time during this pandemic has shaped not only our sanity, finances, and waistlines, but our facility as well.

Whether it’s carpets littered with spilled coffee or cat feces, or wooden tables scraped from laptops, Legos, and game consoles, many household items need to be looked after and repaired. (Aren’t we all?)

We’ve rounded up five main areas of damage and consulted experts (and TikTok) to find out how best to fix them.


If you’ve used disinfectant wipes to sanitize your wooden tables, stop now: you can soften the finish. “Simple soap and water are a great way to wash your hands and clean your furniture,” said Gat Caperton, general manager of Gat Creek, a West Virginia furniture maker. Use a soft, damp cloth with a touch of soap to clean your table top, then wipe it with a dry cloth.

If a hot mug has left its mark on your table, Caperton suggests trying Mohawks No Blush Plus Retarder. “When a surface on a tabletop is heated and then cooled, water can condense and get trapped under the surface,” he says, adding that this product allows moisture to escape. (Read the instructions to learn what types of surfaces it works on.) Also, invest in some coasters and coasters.

Caperton suggests leaving small scratches alone; Over time, they merge with the patina. For a severe, deep scratch, a permanent marker that matches the color of your wood will do. Simply stain the scratch and quickly wipe off any excess material with a cloth. The next day, he says, rub a little vegetable oil (not olive oil) into the crack to protect it from spills and moisture.

Rugs and carpeting

Experts say you should remove stains from a carpet or rug as soon as possible. But if you don’t get it right away, you still have options. First, consult your rug’s label or manufacturer’s instructions for the best cleaning methods.

If it’s a new stain, says David Weidkamp, ​​sales manager at carpet maker Tufenkian, “dab the excess liquid on as quickly as possible, then use a cleaning solution and dab again.” You don’t need a fancy, specific carpet cleaning product, he says; Dish soap is a good, basic solution. He suggests adding a few drops of mild dish soap (Seventh Generation or Dawn works) to a cup of water.

Once the cleaning and rinsing is complete, blot the area with a dry towel. Use a portable fan or hairdryer that is set to cool and never hot. A wet and dry vacuum is also useful for instantly removing spills and stains, and vacuuming up cleaning fluids before drying. (Weidkamp prefers a small unit like the 2½ gallon model from Shop-Vac.)

Use the same method several times on old stains. When it dries, scrape or remove what you can first, then clean, blot, and rinse. If you don’t see success after three to four cycles, contact a professional.

Outdoor fabrics

“People talk more outdoors and don’t want to take everything down every day,” says Sarah Dooley, upholstery director at Sunbrella, a manufacturer of fabrics for indoor and outdoor use.

To clean Sunbrella’s outdoor cushions or pillows, remove the insert and hand-wash the fabric in a mixture of bowl or mild soap such as Dawn or Woolite and water using a soft-bristled brush or sponge to remove stains to edit. After you’ve checked the washing instructions for your fabric or pillow, you can throw the covers in a washing machine. (Zip up the zippers first.) Wash yourself on the gentle cycle in cold water, then air dry, Dooley says.

If the pillows or pillows are not removable, prepare a ¼ cup solution of mild dish detergent to one gallon of water and clean them seam by seam with a soft bristle brush. (She likes the Grainger Tough Guy horsehair brush.) Then rinse thoroughly; You can use a hose.

For mold stains, Dooley says, Sunbrella recommends mixing one cup of bleach and ¼ cup of mild dish soap in a gallon of water.


When sofas and comfortable chairs were brought to their knees last year, watching people clean them became a new form of entertainment. For example, Bissell’s Little Green portable deep cleaner went viral on TikTok.

A younger audience was intrigued, and according to Lauren Fuller, Bissell’s brand manager for portable deep cleaners, Little Green’s sales nearly doubled in the past year. The device costs $ 109.99.

“They looked at the TikTok and said,” Holy cow, my carpet or upholstery didn’t look that dirty, and now they’re looking at the dirty water tank, “Fuller says.

Brinda Ayer, Content Director at Food52, has a small apartment in Brooklyn with her partner and a dog. Little Green was a lifesaver for her mid-century style gray sofa. “We ate a few meals here and had ice cream and snacks in the evening,” she says. “We needed more cleaning than ever before.”

If you stick to stain cleaning, Patric Richardson, author of Laundry Love, says you should use a laundry stain treatment like Shout or Amodex. Remove the treatment with a warm, damp towel. Richardson’s trick to not getting a ring after drying is to feather the edges. “Pull a dry towel from the center of the damp area into the dry one,” he says. Go around the entire patch, “as if you were following the numbers on a clock.”


For my own black leather scraper, I ordered Drtulz ‘Leather Recoloring Balm, available in basic colors. The kit comes with a jar of black shoe polish, a spongy applicator and a buffer. Apply the tinted balm, wipe off the excess and buff it off. It worked like a charm (to my husband’s relief).

Some leather manufacturers offer consumer goods to help with maintenance and repairs. Cheryl Sigmon, vice president of merchandising and product development at furniture maker Bradington-Young, says her company stocks bottles of touch-up paint for its own line, as well as leather cleaning and protection kits.

In general, Sigmon says if you want to apply any color to your leather, test it on a hidden spot first. Then use a cotton swab or cotton ball to saturate the damaged area with the paint. In the event of severe scratches or damage such as ink stains, she recommends a professional repair service such as Uniters or ServeCo.

It also has a pandemic caution. Leather can be damaged by alcohol-based products. Therefore, do not use disinfectant wipes to clean and be careful not to put your hands on the arms of your leather furniture after using the disinfectant. It could break the top coat.

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