As we near the end of our time here in Sarajevo, the urgency of 'getting stuff done before packout' has increased. One of those things would be the furniture we don't own, but have to take care of while we're at post.
So, if you are getting ready for you first post, already at your first post, or an old hand at this but looking for other ideas to make your life easier (and take less of a hit on your pocketbook at the end of a tour), keep reading.
I like saving money, and I don't like to spend it on things I don't have to (like damages to furniture I don't own), so I try to keep embassy furniture as clean as possible over the course of a tour. This is no easy feat because the furniture has a tendency to wear easily (poor fabric, weak seams, poorly designed casters, etc.). But when you add kids, you are pretty much guaranteed stains, all the time. That you will need to clean, all the time. So, this week has been solely focused on fixing the Drexel. Not that I haven't been cleaning it all along (I have!), but the less time we have here, the less time I have to fix anything before we pack out and no longer have access to tools that would help. For the purposes of this post, I am going to cover upholstered furniture, wood furniture, and lamps.* If this is your first post, or you are headed to your first post, I will add that you should go and document any damage you see on the furniture in your home on the list of items that GSO will give you when you arrive at post. Also, take photos of said damage. Do this before you turn the list back into GSO and make sure they are aware of this damage because you don't want to end up at the end of a 2-3 year tour paying for something you are not responsible for.
NOTE: Yes, you could probably find someone locally to perform the cleaning and or repairs. I get that. So this post might not be for everyone. But at some posts contracting the work to someone on the economy is more costly than others (Western Europe for example) or you may not have the language skills to arrange for the work to be done. Or you know, you just want to do it yourself or not spend the money. To each their own.
Unless you want to clean your furniture by hand, all the time, you should probably get a combination carpet cleaner/upholstery cleaner. Sure, you can get slipcovers for your sofa, but that doesn't stop liquids and children from getting to the sofa underneath that slipcover. Also, not every piece of Drexel can be easily slip covered with a off-the-shelf slipcover. Unless you are crafty, and even then your slipcover is not going to stop a determined kid or pet. You can see our handy-dandy carpet and upholstery cleaner (1) (pictured in the photo at the top of this post). That thing has pretty much paid for itself already, because it has managed to clean our GSO issued carpets and the upholstery more times than I can count. It is not 220, however it does just fine on a transformer. If you are at post, have DPO, have kids or pets, and you have time to order one so it arrives before you leave, you should get one. Total time saver.
For those of you at a pouch-only post, and in desperate need of a way to clean upholstery (but you have no access to an upholstery cleaner or carpet cleaner), this is a very basic formula for spot cleaning your carpet or upholstery:
DIY spot cleaning carpet or upholstery recipe
¼ cup of white vinegar
¾ cup of warm water
½ tablespoon of dish liquid soap
Also, you can machine wash (COLD) the cushion covers on Drexel sofas and chairs. You just need to remember three things when you do so:
1. Close the zippers before you was them.
2. Wash them on the cold cycle.
3. You can let them air dry, or you can let them dry on the low heat/delicate cycle briefly - maybe ten minutes maximum. Any longer than that, and you risk shrinking the cover. It will still be damp, but you can put the cushion back in and the cover can finish drying that way.
Once all this stuff is dry, I plan on getting to work repairing the seams that have gone wonky on the furniture and accompanying pillows. I have upholstery needles (3) for that purpose because while a normal needle would work with the pillows, it would be a pain in the ass and not very successful to work on the furniture with a regular needle. For those of you who are not sewing savvy, the internet has tons of videos (4) on upholstery repair and stitching hidden stitches (5) (which is what you are going for when stitching upholstery).
|Hidden or removed knobs (glass in door frame for inspection).|
|Door pull moved to interior of door.|
Whether you like them, hate them, or are indifferent, you may find yourself in need of instruction on how to repair those Drexel lamps. To repair the electrics, go here. And another how to on repairing the electrics, courtesy of The Guardian, can be found here. For a guide on how to repair lampshades, go here.
*You may or may not receive carpets as part of your furniture at post. If you do, know that addressing any stains when they happen combined with use of a carpet cleaner will keep those boring beige area carpets looking brand new (and fluffy) for your entire 2-3 year tour.