Upholstered sofas and chairs can be a comfortable and homey addition to your living space, but they are harder to clean than wooden or metal furniture. Especially if there’s children in the household, the couch is bound to end up splattered with grape juice and peanut butter eventually. Luckily, there is a safe way to clean your cloth furniture without needing to reupholster or leaving unwanted stains!

Save Your Upholstery – Act Fast

Obviously you can’t always get to the stain right after it happens. A pet leaving a stain when you’re not home or a child trying to cover it up with a pillow may leave it untreated. If you do have the opportunity to get to a spill or mess right after it happens, here’s what you should do:

The materials you depend on what kind of stain it is and what kind of cloth the furniture is. Knowing what the spill is (red wine, coffee, peanut butter, etc), the material of the furniture, and how long the stain has been there will give you an immediate course of action.

Never rub a stain into fabric. You will push the stain deeper. Dab instead!
If you’re using an on-hand upholstery cleaner, spot test first
Never machine wash slip covers (they could shrink and no longer fit your furniture). Take it to the cleaners instead.

Cleaning Supplies for Upholstered Furniture

Your couch or upholstered chair should have a tag on it with manufacturers instructions. This will tell you how to clean out those unwanted stains. If you can’t find a tag on the larger piece of furniture, check the cushions for instructions. They should also have a tag with manufacturers instructions.

W means that you can use water to clean it
S means you can only use a dry cleaner detergent or solvent. DO NOT use water because it will leave stains.
WS Use a mild detergent with a steam vacuum or a dry-cleaning detergent – you can use either
X Use vacuum only

If the stain just occurred, the most important thing is taking action. Grab a paper towel or a clean cloth and dab the stain gently to remove as much as possible. If you haven’t checked the manufacturer’s tag yet, don’t use water to be on the safe side. 

Always check the manufacturer’s tag. Failing to follow instructions could destroy your furniture or void any warranty you have for it. You can use over-the-counter detergents, or make a DIY detergent with water and dish soap. These can work especially well for coffee and cola stains, but make sure you get as much of the stain out with lightly misted water first and plotting a towel first.

Fabrics That Allow Water? Here’s what you do.

  • Use a vacuum attachment to vacuum the furniture. Make sure you remove any cushions if you can to vacuum under them. If there’s an excess of pet hair, use a lint roller to get what the vacuum can’t.
  • Mix a cup of warm water and a quarter cup of dish soap until foamy.
  • Gently dab on the fabric (not getting the fabric too wet!) and dry with a clean white towel.
  • Let dry completely.
  • Repeat as necessary, but don’t let the fabric get too wet because it will cause water stains. You can also use 3/4 cup warm water, 1/4 cup vinegar, and a tablespoon of dish soap for fabric upholstery.

No Water Allowed? Try This.

  • Get as much of the stain out by dabbing with a dry, clean towel.
  • Sprinkle the couch with dry detergent or baking soda and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Vacuum up the powder to lift stains

For leather furniture, cleaning is a little different:

  • Like upholstery, you should vacuum the sofa and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth first
  • Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the couch down and wipe it with a rag, then buff it with a dry cloth. Repeat over entire surface.
  • If you’re cleaning a grease stain, don’t use water. Wipe it with a dry, clean cloth. If the stain has been sitting, leaving baking soda on it for a few hours before wiping it off with a rag.

Make sure you let your couch completely dry before assessing whether the stain has been removed. Especially if you live in a humid climate, you may want to place a box fan near the couch to help dry it out and prevent mildew or water stains. No matter which method you use, you don’t want to use too much water because it will cause stains.

We are Bates Cleaning Service, a reputable and reliable residential and commercial cleaning service company in Austin, Cedar Park, and surrounding areas!