How to Clean Upholstery


Clean and fresh furnishing can add a unique charm to any room. But keeping it that way can be a bit of a struggle – especially if you have kids and pets running around. To make your cleaning duties a little easier, we have come up with a complete guide on how to clean upholstery.

When it comes to upholstery cleaning and maintenance, a lot of things need to be considered. You need to clean it regularly using the right products. Cleaning it too often or using the wrong products can damage the upholstery. On the other hand, not cleaning it often enough could affect your health. Navigating all the dos and don’ts of upholstery cleaning can be a bit daunting, which is why we’re here to help. So, let’s get started:


What Products to Use to Clean Upholstery?

While upholstery cleaning, there are several products and equipment that you will need. While the cleaning equipment like vacuum cleaners, brushes and wiping rags are common for all upholsteries, the cleaning solutions you’ll need depends on the fabric of the upholstery.


Often, you’ll find a tag hidden somewhere on your upholstery that will give you an idea on which product to use. These tags have codes saying W, S, WS, or X.

W: If the code says W, it means the upholstery needs to be cleaned using a water based detergent.

S: The S code denotes that your upholstery needs water-free solvents while cleaning.

WS: If this is the code on your upholstery tag, you’re in luck. You can use either water-based or water free detergent as per your wish. Although, if the stain is oil or grease based, you’re better off with a water-free solvent. You would be wise to look for this code in the tag while buying upholstered furniture.

X: If the tag says X, it means your upholstery can only be cleaned professionally. You may vacuum or brush it but you can’t use any products on this kind of upholstery. Try not to buy furniture with this tag unless you like to spend lots of money on professional cleaning.

Sometimes, you’ll find no tags or codes anywhere on the upholstery. In these cases, what you can do is create a test patch. Select an inconspicuous part of the upholstery and try the cleaning solution there. Wipe it and let it dry. If you notice any fading, don’t use it. Move on to another product. Otherwise, the product is safe to use.

Regular Upholstery Cleaning and Maintenance:

Regular Upholstery Cleaning and maintenance can add years to your upholstered furniture. It removes the unseen dirt and hidden microbes that age your upholstery rapidly and can also have negative effect on your health. Here are 6 ways you can take regular care of your upholstery

Vacuum at least once a week.

Even if your upholstery looks clean and fresh, it could still be hiding some dirt and oils accumulated from daily use. Use the upholstery attachment in your vacuum cleaner to clean your furnishing at least once a week. The angle-tipped crevice tool should help you reach the creases and folds or any other difficult area.



Beat the cushions once a month

Once a month, remove all the cushions, take them out and beat them by hand. It will displace any dust particle lodged within the cushion fibers. Once you’re done, flip the cushions and put them back.



Use a Steam Cleaner

Steam Cleaner is an amazing tool that can be very useful while cleaning upholstery. They are usually available for rent at Wal-Mart or many of the grocery stores near you. It uses steam to clean, dry and disinfect any kind of surface. It has an upholstery attachment that you can use to easily clean the surface of the upholstery.


Keep your food away

Your dining table may seem stuffy for a quick snack, but avoiding the couch while eating could save you hours of cleaning later on. Keep your food, drinks and pets away from upholstered furniture as far as possible.

Spot clean any spills immediately

If you accidentally spill something on your upholstery, you need to clean it immediately. The first rule of spot cleaning is to get to the stain before it sets. We will be discussing how to spot clean in detail later in this article.

Deep clean your upholstery once a year

At least once a year or so, your upholstered furniture needs to be deep cleaned. It will remove any dirt settled deep in your upholstery and give it a clean and fresh feel.



How to Spot Clean Upholstery?

As I mentioned earlier, the first rule of spot cleaning is to get to the stain before it has time to set. Here is how you spot clean any stain:


If the stain is caused by a solid

  1. Start cleaning immediately.
  2. Gently scrape off the dirt.
  3. Brush the area to remove dirt stuck on the surface of the fabric.
  4. Vacuum thoroughly.
  5. Whip the appropriate detergent or cleaning solution with water and apply over the stain.
  6. Gently rub the stain with a clean white cloth.
  7. Rinse with water.
  8. Soak up the moisture using a clean cloth.

If the stain is caused by a liquid

  1. Start cleaning immediately.
  2. Blot excess of liquid using clean rags. Do not rub the stain.
  3. Apply the appropriate cleaning product over the stain.
  4. Wipe or rinse away the cleaning solution.
  5. Use a clean cloth, or a paper towel to absorb excess moisture

Things to remember

  • To prevent damage to the upholstery fabric, make sure you use the right cleaning product.
  • Test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous part of the furniture before using it.
  • Avoid using too much water while cleaning.
  • Make sure you soak up all excess moisture after cleaning to prevent mold and mildew.

How to Deep Clean Upholstery?


Even if you clean your upholstered furniture regularly, you will still miss some amount of dirt which keeps accumulating. So, once a year or so, you need to deep clean your upholstered furniture. It will keep the upholstery regain its original freshness and delays aging so that your furniture lasts for a long time.

Here is how you deep clean upholstery:

  1. Start with the covers. Remove and wash them thoroughly. Use cold water so that the color does not fade.
  2. If the covers are dry clean only, get them professionally cleaned.
  3. Remove the cushions and vacuum every surface of the upholstery as well as the cushion.
  4. Check for stains.
  5. Spot treat any existing stain using appropriate products and technique as discussed above.
  6. Clean the entire surface of the upholstery using a mild detergent.
  7. To make your own detergent, heat two cups of water and add six table spoons of soap flakes (You can buy soap flakes at the store or make your own by grating a plain bar of soap.) and two table spoons of borax. Mix them together and then let it cool. Whisk it until it foams.
  8. Soak a piece of cloth in the above solution and wipe the entire surface of the upholstery.
  9. Use a clean, slightly damp cloth to wipe away the dirty soap mixture from the furniture.
  10. Let the upholstery dry overnight. You can use a fan pointed at the furniture to help it dry quickly.


Use these tips and techniques to keep your upholstery clean and fresh and let us know how it goes.

If you know more upholstery cleaning tips, let us know in the comments below.

Happy Cleaning!!!

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