Homeowners and renters often believe that furniture damage is only caused during emergency events like floods and fires, or by pets and children, tobacco smoke, sunlight exposure, or spills from food, beverages, paint and other stain sources. Yet many types of unexpected furniture threats also exist. Consider the following:
Porous natural and man-made furniture materials, including some plastics, absorb odors that make using the pieces after an initial exposure extremely unpleasant. Modern perfumes and colognes are designed to stick to surfaces and release scent into the air for a long time. The ingredients they leave behind can attract dirt, create difficult-to-remove stains and even release toxic volatile organic chemicals into the air. According to Food & Wine, kitchen odors, such as odors associated with burnt food, fish, popcorn, onions and spoiled foods, can also make furniture (as well as the rest of your house) reek.
Although moisture can cause permanent rings and stains on some surfaces, the wet bottom of a cup or can isn't the only source of moisture. Condensation from showers and baths, cooking, and poorly sealed windows; wet clothes and overall poor whole-home moisture control often cause furniture materials to become mildewy and start to rot. Human sweat is another moisture source. Sweat on fabrics can increase mold growth and leave behind stain-creating skin oils. Oil droplets from other sources like kitchen condensation and hygiene products also cause stains.
A lot of furniture-damaging insects, such as termites and borer beetles, take up residence inside of homes and apartments. They eat or burrow through certain types of materials, and often aren’t noticed until it’s too late. Termites are especially notorious for destroying furniture. Watch out for these signs from A+ Termite Inspections:
- Damaged wood around furniture joints and trim
- Tunnels parallel to the wood grain
- Bubbling/peeling paint
Other species of insects that don't perform this kind of damage, such as flies and ladybugs, are often just as much of a problem because their defense mechanisms, refuse, and carcasses can stain light-colored surfaces.
How to protect your furniture
As evidenced by the abundance of stunning antique furniture sold in auction houses, it is possible to protect your furniture in a way that makes it last. Beyond dusting, use upholstery cleaners, polishes, scratch fillers and sealants as needed. Additionally, perform monthly inspections to detect damage, as well as any insect or mold colonies. If you discover an infestation, always attempt to remove pests via natural means since pesticide residues on furniture off-gas toxins that can make people and pets ill. If your attempts fail, get professional help to eliminate the problem and offer guidance on how to clean your furniture in a way that will guarantee that it's safe.
Of course, the best protection is prevention. Use air purifiers whenever you cook, and keep a bottle of a furniture disinfectant and deodorizer like Crypton to neutralize odor-causing elements from the air like perfume particles and mold spores. Buy washable furniture covers to act as surface protection barriers. For whole-home moisture balance, invest in dehumidifiers or an HVAC system with dehumidifying functionality.