Updated date:

Best Ways to Clean Upholstered Furniture

Linda has experience with many home improvement projects. She likes to share her organization, storage and house-cleaning tips.

Upholstered furniture is commonly overlooked at house cleaning time. It's not that we don't want to clean everything in the house we're just focused on weekly household chores like dusting, mopping, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

If you recently scored a brand new sofa sectional or want to share the love of an older upholstered furniture piece its care and maintenance should be a priority. A spilled glass of fine red or tiny chocolate fingerprints can ruin fabric if you don’t know how to deal with stains. And don’t forget about your favorite leather club chair. It definitely needs a little TLC to keep it soft and supple.

Upholstered furniture is a big investment so it’s probably a smart idea to learn how to extend its life to keep it looking good with these quick and easy tips.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming upholstered furniture is so darned easy but for some reason it’s something we rarely think about doing. You don’t need to do it every week. Once every two to three months is fine. Use the upholstery tool to loosen and remove dust from the back, arms and seat cushions.

Take off the cushions, vacuum up any loose dirt with the crevice tool. Vacuum the sides and back once in a while to keep the dust and allergens at bay. Vacuuming also works for leather furniture providing your attachment is soft enough to prevent scratches.

It's always a good idea to regularly vacuum your upholstered furniture to keep the fabric from breaking down.

It's always a good idea to regularly vacuum your upholstered furniture to keep the fabric from breaking down.

Slipcover Maintenance

If you have little ones running around the house, maybe, just maybe you had the forethought to buy a slipcovered sofa. If that’s the case we congratulate you. Slipcovers are great because stains can be pretreated and the cover tossed directly into the washing machine or hand wash it in the bathtub.

Wash the slipcover in cool water using a mild detergent. Allow it to partially dry to eliminate wrinkles and put it back on the furniture piece to finish drying. That way it will prevent the fabric from shrinking.

Check the slipcover care tag to make sure you can throw it in the washing machine or hand wash it in the tub.

Check the slipcover care tag to make sure you can throw it in the washing machine or hand wash it in the tub.

Spot Cleaning Products

Accidental spills are inevitable. They’re a fact of life. Bearing this in mind, you need to arm yourself with several good spot cleaners to take care of stains as quickly as possible. Given the huge selection of products to choose from you’ll have to conduct a few experiments to see which ones work the best on your upholstery.

There are all-purpose products and even specialized cleaners that remove specific stains like blood, wine, dirt or grass. Whichever you choose test the product before use to make sure it won’t bleach or damage the fabric.

Spills and pet accidents can be cleaned with specialty spot cleaning products.

Spills and pet accidents can be cleaned with specialty spot cleaning products.

Leather Care

Take great care when cleaning and maintaining leather upholstery. To prevent leather from drying out and guard against normal wear, scratches and stains it’s best to treat it with a combination leather cleaner, conditioner and protector.

You can purchase these products from the manufacturer, leather retailer or professional cleaning company. Before you do anything always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for removing stains and full leather cleaning.

You can purchase DIY leather cleaners and conditioners or if it's extremely dirty contact a local leather cleaning company.

You can purchase DIY leather cleaners and conditioners or if it's extremely dirty contact a local leather cleaning company.

Professional Services

If you’re concerned about damaging upholstered furniture by cleaning it yourself you may want to invest in a professional service to handle the job. While it is the most expensive option it can extend the life of your upholstery. You can choose between dry and steam cleaning depending on the fabric content and durability.

Dry cleaning is great because it allows you to use your furniture right away without drying time involved. If you sign a contract, you may even be able to include spot cleaning on demand.

Professional upholstery cleaning services have several ways to clean depending on the fabric.

Professional upholstery cleaning services have several ways to clean depending on the fabric.

Cleaning Wood and Metal Trim

According to most furniture manufacturers, the best way to care for wood or metal trim on upholstered pieces is to use a clean, lint-free cotton cloth to remove dust and oily fingerprints.

If your furniture legs and arms have intricate turnings or scrollwork, sweep away dirt with a cosmetic or paint brush. Metal surfaces can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth. Do not use harsh cleaners—you’ll run the risk of removing protective finishes.

Beautiful Sofa Upholstery

Once you've cleaned the upholstery you need to dust and clean the hard surface furniture trim.

Once you've cleaned the upholstery you need to dust and clean the hard surface furniture trim.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 19, 2019:

Liz--Yes, that too!

Liz Westwood from UK on May 19, 2019:

I cover sofas with blankets when dogs visit to prevent them smelling of dog.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 18, 2019:

Liz, I have to remind myself to vacuum the upholstery to keep the dust out. I no longer have to cover our sofa with a blanket because our senior dog doesn't have the ability to jump up on the furniture. Now I don't have to spot clean as often.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 17, 2019:

This is a very useful and thorough article. When the family were at home I often had to spot clean spills on the furniture. But now vacuuming the sofa can often be overlooked. Thanks for reminding me.

RTalloni on May 17, 2019:

Ah, thanks. I need to make myself dig into learning about the best method and how to find the best qualified for upholstered chairs because they just need more than a spot cleaning.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 17, 2019:

RTalloni, I have had furniture professionally cleaned in the past but I'm saving money and cleaning fabric upholstery myself--spot cleaning and using my own steam cleaner. However, I will have my leather club chair done by a cleaning service.

RTalloni on May 17, 2019:

Thanks for this look at cleaning upholstery. I want to have chairs I love professionally cleaned. Have you delved into the ins and outs of having that done?

Related Articles