Sarah asked: How do I clean antique upholstery after a dead mouse? I have a vintage toile armchair from the 1920s-1940s that has been in storage for awhile. We got it out today and discovered that a mouse had been living on it. After what we assumed to have been a long life based on the amount of acorn detritus died on it. I need to give it a thorough cleaning now, but I am hesitant as to what to use. The chair is pretty hearty, and I am 99% sure the upholstery is cotton, cream, with blue toile. We aren’t worried about decreasing the value, as it is a family heirloom that is staying in the family. We just don’t want to ruin the fabric. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
You need to take special precautions when cleaning up after rodents, which can pass along diseases even after their demise. To protect yourself and your upholstery, take these steps.
You Will Need:
- Hand held steam cleaner
- Breathing mask
- Rubber gloves
- Wide packing tape
Steps to Clean the Mess:
- If at all possible, move the chair outside. Wear a breathing mask and gloves when working with the dirty furniture.
- Remove any larger debris with a broom. Tip the chair so most of the stuff falls out, then stand back and gently sweep any remaining larger pieces off the chair. Try not to stir up dust, and be sure to wear a mask for your protection. If you can’t do this outside, try to cover the chair in plastic before turning it over so the loose material can fall away to a protected surface. A large plastic drop cloth is ideal.
- Once you’ve removed as much of the big stuff as possible, use packing tape to pick up dust and finer bits of debris. The technique is simple: just unroll a length of tape, press it to the chair, then lift and toss. Repeat over the entire surface. Use packing tape because it won’t leave a sticky residue. A lint roller will also work, but you might want to throw it away after this job.
- By now the chair should be relatively clean of loose dirt or mouse droppings. The final step is to steam clean it to kill any remaining germs or bacteria.
- Allow the chair to dry completely. If the upholstery seems dirty or smells, you can use Woolite or a similar cleaner for delicate fabrics. Spot test before you begin.
Additional Tips and Advice
- When possible, avoid vacuuming mouse droppings. Ideally, you should use a combination of bleach and water to clean the area, but this isn’t always possible with upholstery, especially antique upholstery. Color safe bleach may weaken or damage the fabric, so proceed with extreme caution if you take that route.