In furnishing my new apartment so far everything we've acquired used. We got a free couch from my boyfriend's brother. Free is free and we need a couch but this couch has had a hard life. It came to us after sitting on a somewhat indoor porch for at least a couple years. By some miracle it didn't smell but it was dirty and had some stains. We borrowed an upholstery cleaner and I decided that I didn't want to use the detergent that the company says is the only thing you should put in the upholstery cleaner. I figured that if baking soda and vinegar could make my laundry clean then they could make my couch clean too.
I was right!! Here's what I did:
First I used my normal hand held vacuum with the upholstery attachment to vacuum out as much dirt as possible. Then I used the upholstery cleaner with a solution of about 3/4 cup baking soda and 6-8 cups of water. I let this dry and then used lemon juice and a rag to vigorously attack the stains. I used this on food stains and larger dirt stains as well as stains that looked like they came from rust. I let this dry and then used the upholstery cleaner again, this time with 1 cup vinegar and 6-8 cups water.
The couch is soft and a lot cleaner than it was when I started. It still doesn't look brand new and probably never will. I plan on cleaning it again. I want to try mixing lemon juice and water in the upholstery cleaner. I will probably do 2-3 cups lemon juice and 4-6 cups water to really work on cleaning the larger dirt stained areas. Then I'll do the same baking soda and then vinegar routine. I will probably also do straight lemon juice and a rag on some of the more stubborn stains that haven't released fully yet.
This could also be done without the upholstery cleaner though it would probably require more elbow grease. Use a spray bottle to evenly distribute a small amount of cleaning solution and a rag to rub it into the couch and then a normal vacuum with an upholstery attachment to vacuum it out. A water safe vacuum would probably be best or just let it dry and vacuum after.
The lemon juice really worked wonders, I will definitely be keeping lots of lemon juice on hand as a stain remover from now on. The acid and enzymes just eat away at the stains, making them disappear instantly.
In other cleaning news: I am frustrated that I can't find a local place to buy white vinegar in bulk. I use this for so many cleaning things but other than large plastic jugs I can only find it in liter sized glass containers with plastic tops. While I plan on re-using these it just seems silly to keep collecting small glass bottles instead of buying bulk. I may have to talk to the people at the local co-ops to see if they have any suggestions.
In somewhat related news: I am loving the soap I got at the co-op. It came without any packaging so I'm not sure who makes it (I think it might say on the display where I got it) but it is amazing. I got the almond bar and it smells great and makes me skin soft and moisturized. I don't have to use much as it has a nice thick lather and it even works well for shaving.
In other green news: I really need to get/make some cloth bags for purchasing baking supplies in bulk. The paper bags are not strong enough and leak easily when I put too much flour or baking soda in them but I hate using the plastic ones too. I want to make my own out of old t-shirts. I don't have a sewing maching so hopefully I will be able to make them sturdy enough on the bottom (and leak proof!) with sewing by hand. I will keep looking for a used sewing machine but everybody always sells their antique ones and want a small fortune for them! I don't do much sewing now but I used to (I made an awesome blanket out of old jeans) and would love to get back into it, especially in the interest of green crafts. Forget buying fabric, it's more fun to use old clothes, or clothes from thrift stores as fabric.