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Cleaning Furniture: How to Clean Upholstery

Updated on May 27, 2013

Our furniture is often put through a lot. With kids, pets, and people who are often using it, you may find that it just needs a good cleaning. There are a lot of different options for cleaning upholstered furniture. Most furniture companies and professional cleaners will tell you to only have you furniture professionally cleaned. However, this can be expensive and make for a once in a while clean rather then an always clean. To fix the problem, clean it yourself. Here are several methods to keep your furniture clean and well taken care of.

Vacuum Regularly

The first step to clean furniture is to vacuum it regularly. About once a week clean your furniture well. Take off loose cushions and vacuum under them. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum for the cleanest possible solution. Get the cushions, under cushions, the backs, arms, sides, and all cracks and crevices. This will help get out dust, soil, and even the dead skin cells that people leave behind. If you have cats or dogs you may want to do this twice a week to help control pet hair as well.


There are lots of chemical options out there for keeping your linens and fabrics smelling good. One of them is Fabreeze. This is always an option if you desire it to be. However, these chemicals are just that...chemicals. They aren't good for you and aren't really needed since they can be replaced with healthy alternatives.

For a healthy linen spray that can be used to refresh all your fabrics and upholstered furniture you can make your own. Get a spray bottle (there are 4 ounce versions in the travel section of most stores or a larger version with the cleaning supplies). Fill 3/4 with water and 1/4 with rubbing alcohol (or vodka if you want all natural solutions). Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a nice smell. This will smell of alcohol until it dries, but it kills germs, removes odors, and leaves behind the scent of your choice. Plus it won't harm people, pets, or the environment.

Baking Soda

Baking soda shouldn't be used often, however there are a few advantages of using it. You can make your own powder to refresh your upholstered furniture with. To do this take 1 cup of baking soda and mix in a few drops of your favorite essential oils. You will then want to use a fork or sieve to thoroughly mix it. Sprinkle it on, let it sit overnight, and vacuum it out.

Baking soda can also be used to help absorb greasy spills. Simply sprinkle it over the mess, let it sit for a few hours, and use a rag to wipe it up. You can then clean it using one of the other options to help clean it.

Spot Treating

Spills happen. When they do you can us an all natural spot cleaner to clean it up. Simply mix 1/2 cup of table salt with 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar. Use a spoon to spoon it onto the stain and let it soak for awhile. Then use a soft bristled brush to gently scrub it up.

Total Scrub

If you are wanting to scrub the whole couch you will want something that will be a whole lot faster and easier to use then the salt and vinegar spot cleaner. In this case take the detergent of your choice (dish soap works well) and mix 1 part soap and 1 part water together. Use an egg beater or an electric mixer set on low to beat the mixture to a froth. Beat a little longer to get stiff peaks. Take the foam and apply it to the upholstered furniture and let sit for a minute or two. Use a sponge or white rag to gently scrub the piece. Then use a bowl of water and a clean rag to carefully rinse it off. It is a good idea to set a fan on it to help it dry.

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning can be done on many types of upholstered furniture with good results. However it should be noted that it is best if you are sure that it won't harm the couch. Some materials will shrink with steam cleaning and others can stain with it. If you don't have the original paper work to know for sure then it is a good idea to test it in a place that isn't often viewed.

Hiring a Professional

If you have a very expensive piece of furniture or a really bad stain you might want to consider hiring a professional. While many of the chemicals they use aren't healthy for us, they will be able to clean it according to the stain type and the fabric type. It is also a good idea to go with a company that offers a guarantee so that your furniture will be replaced should they make a mistake.

Upholstery is a huge part of most of our lives. It also has a lot to do with our d├ęcor. Keeping it clean can help make our homes look more inviging and cleaner. It doesn't have to be really hard to do, really expensive, or with harsh chemicals.


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  • Easy Fit Inc. profile image

    Easy Fit Inc. 7 years ago from Woodside, NY

    Excellent tips for cleaning upholstery! For those who have small children, slipcovers are also a great option as they can easily be removed and either washed or dry cleaned depending on the type of fabric. They also allow furniture that is beyond cleaning to be salvaged.

  • theirishobserver. profile image

    theirishobserver. 7 years ago from Ireland

    excellent I know how to do that cleaning that has been annoying me....good work

  • RGraf profile image

    Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

    I think that mine is beyond hope.