How To: Live With White or Light Furniture With Kids & Pets | How I Clean My Cream Sofa

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Whenever I share a photo of my living room I get a lot of “HOW do you have white furniture with kids?!” or “my dog and kids would destroy that!” or “brave woman….brave.”  The truth is that white or cream or beige furniture gets dirty and it doesn’t always look as nice as it does in the photo above. I suppose it’s sort of a good thing that I can see the dirt so I know when my sofa, chairs and stools need a good cleaning.

And…no. I don’t banish my children from the sofa when they’re watching tv. Everyone piles on and I don’t make sure to have a perfectly tucked in sheet on top in case of accidents. It’s real life around here and real life is messy, full of snacks and greasy peanut butter fingers.  Which is exactly why I try not to freak out and just accept the fact that if I want light furniture, then  it’s going to have to be regularly cleaned like the rest of my house.

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See…ew. But not to worry. Everything is washable.

I give my cream colored sofa a thorough cleaning about every 4-6 months. I wash the cushion slipcovers about once a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on how messy my kids and dogs have been. I try not to get too hung up on messes and I’m usually pretty good about it but I won’t lie…the summertime is a bit of a gong show with sweaty bare feet and sandy paws running around ;)

My pillows get pretty icky from everyday use so I wash these every 1-2 weeks. And I only buy pillows with removable inserts so they can be washed in the machine. I tend to stick with twill linen and cotton.

The trick to keeping my pillow and seat cushion slipcovers looking new is that I throw them in the wash with Tide. It’s the only detergent I’ve found that gets all the stains out (chocolate, juice, blood, etc.,) and the occasional wash with Oxiclean. I’m trying a new detergent from Costco today and i’ll update whether or not it removed a very gross (dog related) stain or not!!

To clean my sofa that’s upholstered in a soft khaki fabric I use my Bissell Little Green Machine. It’s a small portable carpet cleaner and it’s seriously the best $80 I’ve ever spent. I’ve had it for years now and it’s still chugging away.

I’ve used homemade cleaning solutions with detergent/vinegar/oxi/etc., and I’ve used the premade cleaning solution that you can buy in-store. For my dining chairs that are mostly white and get very dingy I use a solution of blue Dawn detergent and a little bit of bleach and they end up looking brand new. For my sofa, I do not use bleach.

I have the best results on my sofa when I use Bissell OXYgen Boost Formula (just hydrogen peroxide but I’m unsure of the strength) mixed with the Bissell 2X Spot & Stain Formula. You just mix a small amount with hot water. I like that it doesn’t have a strong scent and it really does clean well. I buy mine at Canadian Tire but it’s also on amazon for a little less money.

Now, for the gag-worthy results:

The left side is a mix of hot water and cleaning solution. The right side is what was sucked back out of my sofa. It’s a guarantee that if I haven’t cleaned my sofa in 6 months, this is what I’ll see. Our house is old and we live in the country so the fabrics in my home hold a lot of dust that you don’t necessarily notice on the fabric.

And the glorious before & after:

Not bad for just 30 minutes of my time. If I clean it in the morning it’s usually dry by mid-afternoon.

Now. If you’re wondering about different fabric types, I’ve green machined my micro-suede sofa several times and it came out beautifully each time. I’ve also green machined my fabric covered stools and they’re some sort of linen polyester blend I believe.

So that’s it. My furniture does get dirty but…I clean it. Same with my white cabinets, my white walls, and my white bedding. It gets dirty, I clean it, rinse & repeat. Heh.

If you’re wondering about how this one above fares in a mostly white house, stay tuned for a whole other post coming up.  She’s in a league of her own with all that black cat hair.

As always let me know if you have any questions or comments below or on my instagram & facebook!

About Amanda

Amanda Robinson is the eco-chic, green living, fitness loving mom behind Natural Mommie. Since 2009, Amanda Robinson has been the source for moms to learn how to bring more balanced green beauty, eco-friendly, sustainable, organic products into their homes without being too “crunchy” or “granola”. Amanda is passionate about design, wellness and inspiring moms to make more eco-friendly and healthy choices without having to trade in their stilettos for Birkenstocks. In addition to Natural Mommie, Amanda is also the owner and designer behind Top Knot Style - a beautiful collection of handmade oversized luxury knitwear.

14 thoughts on “How To: Live With White or Light Furniture With Kids & Pets | How I Clean My Cream Sofa

  1. I have heard very good things about that Bissel cleaner for carpets. It’s good to hear it can be used for upholstery too. Not that I need it at the moment, with our dark leather furniture, but one day I want light-coloured furniture. I have a couple of white throw pillows, and I’m surprised that they don’t get dirty as quickly as I thought they would.

    1. It’s definitely do-able if you can accept that there will be more cleaning than with leather. With leather it’s a quick swipe…this is a bit more work but if it’s the look that you want I say go for it! I think it depends on your lifestyle too…my hubby doesn’t come home from work with dirty work clothes and plop down on the couch after a long day. I might have a different opinion if that was the case!!

    1. It’s so hard to find drapes for a decent price that look nice isn’t it?! I found these at HomeSense (HomeGoods in the US). They were a steal. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for sharing you cleaning tips. I can’t wait to see one about cat hair. I too live in a white furniture world that I love, and I have 3 gray cats. I wouldn’t give up the white for anything, it just feels like home to me. I’m also dying to see a post about your floors. I want to get rid of my icky old carpet and looking for a less expensive pine floor that will get the worn farmhouse look over time.

  3. Thanks, Amanda. Me and my wife love you right now. I do because you made me look good when I showed her your post and she instantly kissed me on the cheek. She’s obsessed with cleaning and we have 2 dogs, a cat and twin daughters (I Know, Right!) So anyway thank you very much for sharing your tips and helping us live cleaner and and clean easier :)

  4. You truly are a brave woman! I have always wanted to have white sofa and chairs but since I have children and pets I have gave up this idea. :) My house is a mess and I sometimes I am very tired of cleaning. The fact that my furniture is in darker colors doesn’t mean that I don’t clean it that often, though. Thanks for sharing! You have a beautiful house and lovely pets! :)

  5. Do you wash your sofa cushions in cold or hot water? We have only washed ours once in the washing machine and I think they may have shrunk a little, so I’m a little hesitant to do it again. Spot cleaning has worked well so far, but happy to hear my little green bissell can be used on it as well! Our biggest issue more than pets and snack mishaps is blue jeans! Any advice on that? We have our “designated spots” on the sofa and in those areas I feel like the cushions are so much worse than the rest of the sofa. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  6. I have been worried about the jean stain, too! It’s the one thing holding me back from buying a light couch. I would love to here advise on this as well!

  7. Sounds like great advice! I’ve had an ivory couch set for about a year now and I’ve noticed that there is significant gray/blue stains on the sofa (compared to chair which is used significantly less) most likely from dark/denim pants. Debating between getting the carpet cleaner or an upholstery protector that sprays on. Any thoughts?

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