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How To Clean A Fabric Headboard

How To Clean A Fabric Headboard

Have you ever wondered what could live on your headboard? We spend around a third of our lives in bed and, hopefully, regularly clean our bedding, but our time cleaning our headboards could fall by the wayside. Well, if you are not sleeping on it, it's fine… right? Wrong.

Our beds can harbour up to 10 million dust mites. Pillows over two years old have up to a third of their weight made up of dust mites and droppings. That's not to mention the bacteria that builds up from moisture in your bedroom, as well as from your face and the drool from your pillow – which can all be transferred to your headboard.

When you think about it, our headboards could be the silent enemy of our sleep and health. To find out, we analysed how dirty our headboards get and how that can impact sleep. We've also put together some top cleaning and care tips to help you keep your bed, especially a divan bed and headboard , looking their best at all times. From upholstered headboards to velvet options, here are the best ways to clean a fabric headboard.

53% of people have never cleaned their headboard

We conducted a poll to analyse how many people have cleaned their headboards, asking if they have ever done so a couple of times a year, monthly or weekly. Resoundingly, 'never' was the most common answer, meaning millions of homes could harbour harmful bacteria on their headboards.

30% of people cleaned their headboards a 'couple of times a year', which is still not enough when looking at what can get onto your bed. However, we have all the insight into keeping on top of cleaning your headboard.

Dirty headboard

How does my headboard get dirty?

Headboards are used daily. From resting against them when reading or watching TV in your bedroom to providing a resting place for your pillows . But, as they are used daily, they can also pick up dirt - more so than you might realise.

Pillows can harbour millions of dust mites

Hundreds of dust mites can live in just one gram of dust. And if you think about it, when was the last time you cleaned or even replaced your pillow? Our data from our bedding calculator revealed that one-third of people had their pillows for longer than two years. The longer you keep your pillow and don't wash it, the more dust mites can gather.

But what can dust mites do if left in your headboard - an area that isn't typically cleaned as much as bedding? Studies have found that early-life exposure to dust mites was associated with wheezing in children up to 12 months and asthma developing from 12-36 months old. Minor allergies to dust mites can also result in a runny nose and other symptoms that can impact the ability to sleep.

17% of people have had their pillow more than double the recommended time

Dust mites and their droppings make up to around a third of the weight of pillows over two years old, meaning 17% of the population are sleeping on millions of dust mites that can transfer to your headboard.

The average mite lives for around three months, so as your pillow gets older, the mites multiply, numbering millions. One study also found fungi across pillows older than one and a half to two years, which pose particular problems for people with respiratory issues. This can also lead to further sleep disturbances if you suffer from the likes of sleep apnoea.

It was also initially thought that mites would gather more in feather pillows. However, if you have synthetic pillows, previous studies have found the opposite, that dust mites can permeate those more than feather pillows.

You should never rest wet hair against your headboard

Resting wet hair against your headboard can also provide an excellent breeding ground for mites due to the humidity created by your damp and warm head against the surface. It's advised that to prevent the build-up, you should avoid sitting in bed with wet hair and certainly avoid resting your damp hair against the back of your headboard if you like to read in bed.

It would help if you also washed your bedding weekly to prevent the build-up of mites and other bacteria from spreading to your headboard.

How dirty is my headboard?

Without proper care, dirt and skin can catch up on your headboards, leaving them dirtier than you think.

Headboards are one of the most popular places for bed bugs to hide

Bed bugs are a common enemy for households worldwide, hiding in areas where light doesn't reach them. That makes the inner corners of your headboard the ideal hiding spot. You'll not likely find them crawling around the headboard surface, so you'll have to do some digging to find them.

Bed bugs can cause all manner of sleep disruptions, with studies finding those who experience bed bugs are at risk of disturbances in their sleep and developing anxiety symptoms. This can increase cortisol levels, the opposite of the sleep hormone melatonin. However, bed bugs can be dealt with if you have an infestation, and we have expert insights into how to get rid of bed bugs in your home.

Bacteria can live in the moisture from your drool and your sweat

According to our data from our bedding calculator, 20% of people sweat a lot every night. On average, a person can sweat up to 1.5 gallons every day, with that increasing for those who exercise. But if you sweat a lot at night, it will inevitably go to your headboard. This creates a perfect environment for fungi and other bacteria to thrive.

If this continues and you don't regularly clean your headboard or bedding, you could experience skin irritation. This skin irritation can worsen over time, leading to cracking and peeling.

The same can be said if you drool during the night onto your pillow, which you later rest against your headboard when making the bed or sitting in your bed to work, read, watch TV or more. The moisture can lead to bacteria build-up as it dries and gets wet continuously daily.

While headboards can harbour bacteria, they are also easy to clean, and you can incorporate the steps easily into your cleaning routine.

Blue velvet headboard

Are fabric headboards hard to keep clean?

We've put together some top cleaning and care tips to help you keep your bed , especially a divan bed and headboard looking their best at all times. From upholstered headboards to velvet options, here are the best ways to clean a fabric headboard.

Fabric offers a lovely, timeless and chic finish for a headboard; however, it can harbour dirt more easily than wipe-down surfaces. Due to the nature of the material, fabric headboards can also stain. Spills, makeup, or the natural oils in your skin can mark fabric more easily than wood, metal or leather.

You should look at your fabric headboard in a similar light to your fabric bedding - it requires regular cleaning to keep it hygienic and fresh!

Keeping a fabric headboard clean isn't difficult if you're on top of it. If you do encounter issues or stains, we've detailed some simple steps you can take to remove them below.

How to clean a fabric headboard

First of all, double-check your label or any specific care instructions that came with your headboard. The label should let you know exactly what material you're dealing with, as cleaning instructions can differ slightly depending on the type of upholstery.

Some headboards can withstand water-based cleaning more than others; cleaning a regular upholstered fabric headboard may be simpler than cleaning a plush suede headboard. If your headboard is a material such as velvet or suede, you can scroll down for more specific cleaning instructions.

If you're unsure about the exact type of material or cleaning instructions for your headboard, always carry out a spot test first. Using either a mild water and detergent solution or an upholstery cleaner, apply a tiny amount to an inconspicuous area of your headboard that isn't in regular view to see how the fabric reacts and dries.

How to clean dust off a fabric headboard

Cleaning dust off a fabric headboard should be a regular task within your bedroom cleaning schedule; keeping on top of this will help ensure deeper dirt doesn't build up.

Using a brush attachment, run your hoover over the surface of your fabric headboard, ensuring you're getting into any nooks and crannies. It would be best if you did this whenever you hoover your bedroom, as well as when you change your bedding. Hoovering your fabric headboard often means dust, bacteria and any other dirt is removed quickly.

For regular upkeep, you can wipe many upholstered headboards down with a damp cloth, baking soda, or mild detergent. Again, always ensure you've spot-tested your headboard fabric before applying cleaning products!

How to clean a fabric headboard stain

If you've noticed a stain on your fabric headboard, tackle it with a deeper clean. Lukewarm water and mild detergent are an easy stain solution at home. Apply this solution to a cloth and gently dab or rub any stains to remove them. We'd recommend cleaning stains earlier in the day, ideally in the morning, to allow plenty of time for drying before bed. Once the stain is fully dry, vacuum your headboard to remove any leftover residue.

For more difficult-to-remove stains, you can opt for a specialist fabric cleaner. Always double-check specific instructions for any cleaners you apply to your headboard, and, as we've mentioned, trial your product with a spot test before you carry out the full clean.

Baking soda is also a great DIY product for cleaning fabric stains. For grease-based headboard stains, you can lightly apply dry baking soda to soak up the grease. Then, clean the stain with a detergent, baking soda mixture, or your regular fabric or upholstery cleaner.

You can also rent or invest in a professional-grade steam cleaner for semi-regular headboard deep cleans.

White fabric headboard

How to clean a white fabric headboard

Cleaning a white or cream headboard is mostly the same as cleaning any other colour - the main difference is stains can be much more apparent on a white headboard!

For light-coloured headboards, we'd recommend taking extra care and keeping on top of regular cleaning to keep darker, more visible stains at bay. Hoover your headboard regularly and wipe it down with a damp cloth to keep it looking clean and fresh. Explore specialist fabric cleaners and spot test for stubborn stains before applying them to your headboard.

Tufted velvet headboard

How to clean a tufted fabric headboard

A tufted headboard is a classic upholstered style finished with indentations created by the stitching. While this offers a classic, luxurious look, it does provide more areas for dirt, dust and debris to become trapped or build up.

While cleaning tufted headboards doesn't require different instructions to regular fabric headboards, you need to be thorough when hoovering and wiping them down to ensure you've removed all the dirt from the indentations. As dust can build up quickly in tufted headboards, more regular vacuuming may be required to keep them looking their best.

Velvet headboard

How to clean a velvet or suede headboard

If your fabric headboard is upholstered in velvet or suede, you'll need extra care when cleaning it. These fabrics - suede in particular - are susceptible to water. Cleaning your suede or velvet bed and headboard with too much liquid can lead to dirty watermarks, which may be more evident than the initial stain.

Soak up as much liquid as possible with a dry cloth for wet stains or spills on a velvet or suede headboard. Then, you can use your regular cleaning solution, but blot gently rather than scrub the fabric. You can also find specialist velvet or suede cleaners to treat these fabrics.

Grey velvet headboard

How do you protect a fabric headboard from stains?

The advice we've covered is excellent for when you need to clean a headboard. However, prevention is always better than treatment! Here are a few steps you can take to maintain your fabric headboard…

1. Try a fabric protection spray

Particularly for velvet or suede, a protective coating spray can add an excellent layer of protection to your headboard and make it easier to wipe away any marks or stains that do occur.

2. Hoover and wipe down your headboard regularly

Regularly cleaning your headboard will ensure deeper dirt doesn't build up over time. Make sure you're hoovering your headboard once or twice a week to keep it looking its best.

3. Use clean pillows

Fabric headboards are incredibly comfortable, allowing you to sit in bed to watch a film or read a book. Because of this, they're more likely to come into contact with your skin or hair, meaning any skincare or hair products can transfer and leave a greasy residue over time. Propping yourself up in bed with pillows is a quick and easy way to avoid this problem, as long as you clean your pillowcases weekly and wash your pillows at least three times a year.

Similarly, apply lotions and moisturisers well before bedtime to give them time to sink in, and avoid getting into bed with damp hair or leave-in conditioners, which may mark your headboard fabric.

4. Upgrade your headboard

If your fabric headboard has seen better days and you're struggling to remove dirt or stains, it may be time to replace it. The methods we've detailed are ideal for regular upkeep, but as with any furniture, you'll eventually reach a point when buying a new bed or headboard is best. A quality bed frame and headboard can last up to ten years - if you're reaching or beyond this point, it could be time to upgrade.

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