Motorhomes are designed for recreational use and the great outdoors. So whether it's a trip to the forest, beach or mountains, you can expect to find reminders of where you've just been in the interior of your campervan almost immediately. Because the habitation space is used for relaxing, dining and sleeping, the upholstery is more susceptible to more robust usage and unfortunately, also more prone to drink spills and food stains.
If you want to keep your upholstery in tip top condition, keeping it clean is key! While regular care and maintenance is important, we guide you through the correct method to use when cleaning your upholstery. So roll up the sleeves - it's time to get stuck in.
Down to basics
Firstly you need to vacuum thoroughly to remove loose dirt, crumbs etc. this is to ensure that you don't stain the upholstery by rubbing in dirt during the cleaning process.
Upholstery type - Leather suede or cloth?
The type of upholstery in your motorhome will determine the type of cleaning required. Do you have soft leather, rough suede, velour or traditional cloth? You may need to purchase cleaning detergents specifically tailored to the type of upholstery you are cleaning, it is also strongly advisable to purchase an after care fabric protector suited to your upholstery finish.
You can buy leather sofa cleaning kits which contain, cleaning solution concentrate, cleaning solution and leather conditioner and protection cream. A good leather cleaner will be PH balanced and would be alkaline and acid free.
- You will need leather cleaning kit, and microfibre towel and leather cleaning brush. If really dirty, apply cleaning solution concentrate, make sure to follow user instructions carefully.
- Next, spray the cleaning solution onto your cleaning cloth, this is to make sure you don't apply too much product to one area and get an even finish. Then begin to rub the cloth over the leather surface. Use a gentle force but do not scrub too hard. When the fabric gets dirty, change the fabric, or fold to a clean surface. For ridges and tricky areas, spray the cleaning solution onto a leather cleaning brush and rub into the leather surface. Do not apply cleaning agent directly onto the leather.
- Wipe off with a clean microfibre cloth.
- Apply leather conditioner to keep your leather soft and supple and prevent it from drying out. This is a very important step. Apply leather conditioner onto a micofibre applicator pad, gently rub into the surface. Leave the conditioner absorb for 5-10 mins and buff off any excess product with a clean microfibre cloth. Avoid using homemade oil cleaner at all costs, some posts recommend using olive oil to create your own leather furniture cleaner. PLEASE DON'T! Leather quickly absorbs all oils and will initially give you the desired look, however natural oils are heavy and will slowly sink causing pooling in specific areas.
Suede Fabric & Alcantara
While smooth soft and luxurious, this durable fabric is generally stain resistant, but can get dirty. You will need fabric cleaner, scrub pad interior brush, vacuum and microfibre towel.
- Spray the affected area with specialised fabric cleaner but avoid over wetting. Also apply a small amount of cleaning agent to your brush. Tend to the affected area by brushing gently in circular motion to lift the dirt. A light sud foam should form.
- Wipe the suds dry with a clean dry microfibre cloth, avoid pushing, twisting or crushing the fabric so that it remains in shape.
- Vacuum the dirt away - if you wish to take extreme care of your fabric when vacuuming, you can use 2 or 3 thousand grid sand paper, to smooth the surface on the narrow tool attachment of your vacuum. Then wick the moisture away, this will lift the material upwards resulting in a fresh new look.
- Once clean and fully dry, it is advisable to apply a stain protecting spray.
Fabric upholstery is a more robust material and can withstand more rigorous cleaning methods. A steam cleaner is perhaps the most effective, with excellent results. However, we don't all have access to steam cleaning machines, so if applying a bit of elbow grease, the following pointers may help ease things
- Vacuum frequently to prevent dust and crumbs for settling into the body of the furniture, pay particular attention to stained areas, you'd be surprised how much dirt a vacuum can remove.
- For general stains use natural soap with cold distilled water. Don't rub at the stain, just blot, press dry with a cloth or paper towel. You may need to repeat this process several times.
- For a general all over clean, use an upholstery cleaner, but take care to test out on a discreet corner of your fabric first.
- For vigorous stains check out the following useful information page on Upholstery Stain Removal Tips!
- Scotchgard upholstery protector is a great way to finish your cleaning regime but only apply to bone dry, clean fabric.
Velvet fabric can be a small bit trickier to clean, especially if removing a stubborn stain as you must take care to avoid crushing the nap of the fibre. Here are some tips to help you successfully remove stains without damaging your beautiful upholstery.
- Vacuum thoroughly to remove loose particles, use a soft brush to remove superficial dirt, avoid scrubbing vigorously.
- For cotton and polyester velvets it's possible to use detergent such as woolite, but approach with care. Prepare a fabric cleaning solution, do not agitate to produce suds. Always check your solution on a discrete part of your furniture first to be sure it won't react with your material causing discolouration.
- Use a soft muslin fabric for cleaning to prevent damage to velour fibres. Dip fabric into cleaning solution and wring out excess liquid. Delicate velvets would rarely be used for motorhome upholstery, these would be acetate, rayon, or silk velvets, however if this is your fabric of choice, professional cleaning is required.
- Rub fabric gently over the velour surface to clean.
- For tougher spots, apply a pre-treating solution and place a clean towel over. Leave for 15 minutes and blot with towel until the stain transfers onto the cleaning garment. Don't rub briskly or aggressively. Let the fabric dry thoroughly and when fully dry, use a suede brush to restore the soft velour texture. I's best to dry out the fabric as quickly as possible and you may assist this with a dryer on a cool setting or by using a fan.
Now you have a motorhome that looks brand new! Time to celebrate, cook a meal, have a drink, make the most of it and live it up.