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Upholstery Cleaning – Should You Go The DIY Way or Hire A Service Provider?

Updated on December 15, 2016
Jason mackenzie profile image

Prior to starting the business, he realized how important cleaning was and has since worked towards restoring a premise back to its glory.

Difference that Cleaning Can Make to Your Upholstery
Difference that Cleaning Can Make to Your Upholstery

Upholstery Cleaning - Background Check

Upholstery cleaning refers to the task of ridding your sofa, love chair, couch or carpet of dirt, dust and other contaminants that settle on the fabric as days go by.

No matter how well you look after upholstery, it does manage to acquire a dull and worn-out look with the passage of time. Heart-breaking that such a situation is, home owners often spend a lot of time worrying about how to handle it. The good news is that there is indeed a silver lining in the black cloud and it pertains to rigorous cleaning.

Dirt on carpet and upholstery is akin to the cache of unwanted files that pile up in your computer undetected. Like the cache in your computer, dust and pathogens that build up among the fibres of your carpet and upholstery stealthily and steadily are also invisible. And just how the cache needs to be emptied every once in a while, upholstery and carpet also need to be cleaned at regular intervals to ensure good health, hygiene and elegant interiors.

Why Clean Upholstery?

While it is inevitable that a home would have multiple dirt pockets, upholstery and carpet happen to be the high-concentration areas owing to their placement and excessive usage. On being riddled with dirt and grime, upholstery takes on a drab look and also becomes a breeding ground for harmful pathogens. Regular cleaning gets rid of these dirt pockets, thus paving the way to good health and a refreshing ambience.

Common Problems that Affect Upholstery

What  Can Possibly Be Sitting On Your Couch?
What Can Possibly Be Sitting On Your Couch?

Nothing can compare to the luxurious look that well-maintained upholstery and carpet lend to a room. However, with usage the beauty and elegance gradually erode and all that is left is a stained and worn-out look that dampens the ambience of the room. Discussed as follows are some of the common factors that cause upholstery and carpet to lose their sheen –

Dirt and Dust – No matter how frequently you vacuum your upholstery and carpet, they still manage to gather dust and dirt on a daily basis. On being ignored, dirt and dust particles sink deep into the fabric till they are firmly embedded between the fibres. With multiple layers of dirt enmeshed between its threads, not only does the surface appear drab but chances of allergens being released into the air increase manifold.

Bad odour – There could be several reasons as to why upholstery and carpets emit foul smell and while the culprits are mostly pets, inefficient cleaning is another factor. If there is a persistent odour - it could range from pet fur to urine and chemicals - in the room, most likely the source is entrapped amidst the microfibres of the fabric.

Common Problems that Affect Upholstery
Common Problems that Affect Upholstery

Stains – Spills in form of food and drinks tend to leave a residue even though you might rush to clean up as soon as it happens. Over a period of time this serves to discolour the area till it stands out like an ugly patch much to your embarrassment. Presence of stains would not only mar the décor but also spoil the fabric of your upholstery.

Oil and Grease – These find their way into the fabric via food but there are other sources too like tools, equipment and footwear. Stubborn that they are, removal is difficult unless a rigorous cleaning procedure is employed.

Cognizance of these common problems would not just enable you to maintain your upholstery and carpet but also help to identify an appropriate cleaning process. .

Spills on the Upholstery

Spills are the primary reason for getting your upholstery and carpet cleaned.
Spills are the primary reason for getting your upholstery and carpet cleaned.

Reasons for Getting Your Upholstery Cleaned

Look and feel’ is what matters most in case of upholstery but there is more to this aspect of home furnishing than what meets the eye.

Some reasons as to why you must get your upholstery and carpet cleaned are -

Dirt is invisible – Much of the grime, grease, dust or sweat that falls on upholstery and carpet is microscopic in nature and hence invisible to the naked eye. But that does not mean that its presence can be ignored – on the contrary it emphasizes how important it is to clean. Given the nature of micro-organisms, in addition to damaging the fabric, these also pollute the indoor air, thus having an adverse impact on your family’s health.

Enhancing life expectancy – Research has proved that deep-seated dirt and colonies of micro-organisms can significantly reduce the life-span of carpet and upholstery. In such a situation regular cleaning is what would save your upholstery and carpet from steady deterioration and premature replacement. .

Getting Rid of Stubborn Stains – From drawings to wine and coffee, your upholstery and carpet are silent recipients of a variety of stains which are not just unsightly but also stubborn. These not only spoil your impression on guests but also gradually weaken the fibres. Cleaning would enable you get rid of them, irrespective of whether it carried out DIY or by a professional service provider.

Health Concerns – Frequent cleaning is a must if contaminants that can cause allergy and breathing problems are to be expelled from the fibres of upholstery and carpet. It is one of the few ways of maintaining quality of indoor air and preserving your family’s health.

Impact of Pets on Upholstery

Pets are one of the many factors that render regular upholstery cleaning a must
Pets are one of the many factors that render regular upholstery cleaning a must

Important Facts Pertaining to Upholstery Cleaning

Irrespective of whether you opt to clean upholstery and carpet or get it done by a professional service provider, it is imperative to be aware of the following facts –

  • Upholstery and carpet come in a variety of fabrics each of which is unique in terms of fibres and characteristics. This has a direct bearing on the cleaning requirement wherein the choice of technique and cleaning agent would vary as per the nature of the fabric.
  • Although all cleaning agents are meant to clean upholstery, they differ in terms of chemical composition. So you need to be aware of the action of each so as to select one that would produce best results with the particular fabric.
  • Micro-suede is a fabric which is easiest to clean as compared to leather, silk and other types.
  • Urine of any kind – pet or human – should be immediately treated with strong agents. Failure to do so would cause the toxins to sink deep into the fibres and emit a foul odour which is virtually impossible to suppress even though you use the best of neutralizing agents.
  • Heavily soiled upholstery requires aggressive cleaning techniques that may rely on chemical-based agents or water. Even though the upholstery or carpet may take longer to dry after the completion of the process, it will have been cleansed of ingrained dirt.

Being Aware of Facts Results in Efficient Cleaning
Being Aware of Facts Results in Efficient Cleaning

DIY Upholstery Cleaning Tips

Following are some useful tips that you can use while cleaning cleaning upholstery and carpet on your own –

  • Fabric is best cleaned by a solution of soap and water and scrubbing the area with a towel or scrubber. This is then wiped out with a dry white cloth.
  • To remove stains from your upholstery, a solution of detergent and water is effective.
  • For stubborn stains, you can replace detergent with vinegar or ammonia to seek better results.
  • Leather upholstery is best cleaned by using a ready-made leather cleaning solution.
  • Alternatively you can prepare a home-made solution by combining vinegar and linseed oil and apply it on the leather upholstery in circular motion.
  • After about 10 minutes when the surface is wiped by a clean white cloth, the beauty of leather is resplendent for all to appreciate.

Is It Worth Hiring A Professional Cleaning Service?

Many people are unaware that there are professional service providers which specialize in cleaning upholstery and carpet for residential and commercial premises. Contrary to the popular opinion, these are well-equipped as also affordable, thus proving to be a convenient option.

Whether or not you choose to use their services, making a mental note of benefits that can be accrued would help you to make an informed decision –

Guaranteed Protection – Having invested a sizeable amount of time and money in selecting your upholstery and carpet, it is but obvious that you would want them to remain in good condition for a long time.

Hiring a professional service to carry out deep cleaning once in six months would ensure that your upholstery and carpet will remain protected courtesy of efficient cleaning techniques that also preserve the fabric.

Minimized Wear and Tear – As per statistics, cleaning of upholstery is best carried out by experts who are well trained in handling equipment and have good knowledge of cleaning agents.

This point cannot be emphasized enough because if entrusted to novices, your upholstery would suffer a lot of wear and tear which would reduce its life expectancy. Inappropriate choice of cleaning agents or cleaning techniques causes friction between fibres, thus leading to their breakdown and this is eventually manifested in form of holes and a dull look.

In comparison, a well trained professional is knowledgeable as to which cleaning agent and equipment would be most effective on a given fabric. With an expert handling the task, you can rest assured not just of efficient cleaning but also of the fact that fibres of your upholstery will be spared the unnecessary wear and tear.

Prolonged Life – Frequent cleaning results in removal of deep-seated dirt, grease and grime from your upholstery and carpet, thus enabling the fabric to breathe well. Fibres that breathe freely are likely to be healthier and last longer which in turn translates into a prolonged life-span of your upholstery and carpet.

Final Word

Both options come with their fair share of pros and cons and the onus is on you to settle for one after having compared them comprehensively.

If you opt for the DIY method of cleaning, knowledge pertaining to fabrics, cleaning agents and methods is a must for you to do a good job without harming your upholstery. Likewise, if you choose to hire a professional service provider you must ensure that the organization is certified, reputed and reliable.

For cleanliness of your home to be thorough, getting your upholstery and carpet cleaned on a regular basis is a must and being able to preserve the fabric in the process is an added bonus.


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    • Jason mackenzie profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason Mackenzie 

      24 months ago from Perth WA 6000

      Thanks for your comment Amanda :) You are absolutely right, having a clean sofa = healthy home :)

    • Amanda Marshay profile image

      Amanda Marshay 

      2 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      Thank you for writing this!! I don't think people realize the health concerns that lie in NOT cleaning a sofa. It's kind of gross, LOL. Very informative, and easy to follow!


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