Monday, May 10, 2010

The Toxic Couch: Part Two (05-10-10)

Now, you may ask, what does NOT work on a cat-stench-infected high-end leather sofa bed and recliner bought on Craigslist? Here is the answer, from direct experience: Febreze (1 bottle); Nature's Miracle (2 bottles); Biokleen (3 bottles). Add to that, a couple of big rolls of paper towels to spread the products all over the leather.

I removed the cushions from their zippered covers and took them to the laundromat, with the idea that if they were thoroughly cleaned, the problem may be resolved at last. Armed with detergent and bleach from home, I loaded three large-sized front-loading washers with the cushions. I filled the soap and bleach dispensers with what I estimated to be the required amount of liquid to deal with the situation at hand, and for good measure, I added yet more soap and bleach in each washer's dispenser. I watched as the machines filled with soapy water, and as I saw the water level rise behind the glass door, I noted with slight alarm that there was an awful lot of foam.

I was alone in the laundromat. I could see some foam pushing through the soap dispenser door on the top of one of the washers; I tried to wipe if off with my hand, but the foam was coming through anyway. A card on the wall behind the washers said that the place was under surveillance 24 hours a day. A glance to my left confirmed the presence of a camera overhead. I casually walked over to the thrash can by a folding table and pulled out an old pair of jeans that had been tossed away.
The foam had worked its way through the dispenser door and was now pulsating down the front and side of the washer and pooling on the floor. I tried to wipe everything, like it was just no big deal, once in a while glancing at the camera overhead. As I was busy wiping, I caught sight of mountains of foam cascading out of reach, at the back of the washer and the one next to it... Needless to say, once my load was done and the cushions had gone through a dryer cycle, I was out of there in no time.
But the cushions had come through with flying colors. They were clean and smell-free. There was hope, after all.

Filled with visions of myself sitting on my luxury distressed leather couch and telling people about my good fortune ("Would you believe, I got this $4,000 Restoration Hardware set on Craigslist of all places!), and bolstered by my success with the cushions, I decided that I might as well also take the leather cushion covers to the laundromat.

I walked in like an old pro, put detergent in the dispenser, inserted money and washed them, three times for good measure. I stood in front of the machine like it was perfectly normal to have this unappealing, even gross, stuff churning inside, and watched the yellow-brown water swirl about behind the glass, every turn of the drum causing a shot of brown color to ooze into the foam. Once done, I carefully stretched the wet covers and ran them through a gentle dryer cycle.

But despite the thorough washes, the part of the cushions that had been at the back of the sofa and recliner still smelled awful and rank and was gummy and sticky to the touch and stained my fingers with an oily substance I tried wiping on my jeans. When I got home, I asked Gary to help me gently stretch the covers, to then let them air dry on a chair in the sun. Cripes and aggravation! Inadvertently pulling too hard on one of the gummy corners caused the leather to tear!

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