How to clean and care for a velvet sofa or chair

Few bits of furniture say luxury quite like a velvet chair, sofa, or chaise longue.

It’s one of those things that we lust over in photos in other people’s interiors, and dream of buying for ourselves if we suddenly got a massive amount of money out of the blue.

But then, in the midst of visions of lounging on velvet eating truffles, we worry about the boring bit: the practicality of a velvet sofa.

As a material tied with luxury, velvet can be a bit a scary prospect.

Does it need special care? Can you really get away with a velvet chair if you have a cat that likes to scratch or a partner who always, always spills their cup of tea?

The good news is that despite its rep and fancy aesthetics, velvet is secretly quite a practical fabric option.

‘Believe it or not, velvet is actually very durable,’ Kelly Collins, head of creative at Swyft, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘It’s a good choice for people with pets as its tight weave means that they can’t get their teeth and claws under it so easily.’

Kelly says that even spillages are easy to sort, so you don’t need to rule yourself out of the velvet sofa life just because you’re clumsy.

So, how can you make your velvet dreams a reality? And how can you make sure your sofa doesn’t end up looking rubbish when you do?

How to care for a velvet chair

It sounds weird, but you need to give your chair a good brush.

‘Brushing it down a few times a month will keep the velvet at its best for longer,’ says Kelly. ‘You can pick up fabric brushes online and for a low cost.

‘Always check the rub count of the fabric in advance of purchase and make sure it is over 20,000 (recommended for residential).’

FYI, a rub count is basically how durable a fabric is – how well it will stand up to daily use.

During a rub test, a special machine aggressively rubs a fabric, and counts the number of rubs until signs of wear and tear begin to show.

Asking about a sofa’s rub count doesn’t just make you look smart in front of a salesperson, it can also help you to ensure you’re choosing a fabric that works for your lifestyle.

Beyond brushing, there are other bits you should do to keep your velvet chair looking great – including being selective about where you place it.

‘Velvet is a long pile fabric which means it can mark if something heavy is left on it for a long period or if it’s pushed up hard against something,’ says Kelly.

‘Give the sofa a little space away from walls and radiators to keep it at its best for longer.’

How to clean a velvet sofa

For a proper deep clean, don’t even try to do it yourself. That’s far more stress than it’s worth.

Instead, call in a professional and make sure you never, ever bung velvet sofa covers in a washing machine.

General cleans, however, you can definitely do yourself.

Kelly says: ‘If the fabric has a guard treatment and it just needs a wipe down, give it a hoover first to remove any dust and other particles that might have collected.

‘Then, you can either use warm water with a white microfiber cloth or – if you are needing something a little stronger – use a white or clear household soap.’

What to do if you spill something on velvet

First off, don’t panic. This is not a total disaster that can’t be fixed.

‘For stains like mud, ketchup, lipstick or silly putty, you’ll need to get a teaspoon,’ says Kelly. First, remove any stain residue with the edge of the teaspoon or a flat utensil.

‘For other stains like pen or coffee, you won’t need to do this. Just dampen the fabric and blot.

‘Apply water to the stain and blot using a white paper towel. Ensure you blot and don’t rub in circular motions because it’ll just rip your paper towel and drive the fibres from it into your fabric. Repeat the process until you can’t see the stain on the paper towel anymore.

‘Apply more water to the area and rub with gentle movements with a white microfibre cloth.

‘Use soap for stubborn stains; any white bar of soap will do, whatever you have in the house. Now you can do the circular motion rub trick with a cloth or towel.

‘Repeat the process until the stain is completely removed.’

Once you’ve cleaned up the stain, don’t use a hairdryer to attempt to get your sofa all dried up and ready to be sat on – Kelly notes that applying heat can set the stain.

Instead, be patient and leave your sofa to air dry.

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