You should clean spillages and stains on upholstered chairs as quickly as possible. A swift response improves your chances of enjoying your upholstered chair for many years. Of course, this isn’t always possible. You will also have people telling you to apply a guard treatment to upholstered chairs in your living or dining room. This is helpful advice, but of no value or merit if you have stains you need to remove.

If you want to learn how to clean upholstered chairs effectively and efficiently, this guide is for you.

The first step in cleaning an upholstered chair

The first step in cleaning upholstered chairs comes with vacuuming it. Carrying out a regular vacuuming of your chair helps, but when you have a stained chair, you might be surprised at the positive impact of a quick vacuum. This step should see the stain fade, removing loose particles and letting you see the true extent of the damage.

Does your vacuum have an upholstery attachment?

If your vacuum cleaner has an upholstery attachment, this is an ideal time to use it. Stain removal is a tougher job than simply removing dust and debris, so the more assistance you have in cleaning fabric chairs, the better.

Accessories make cleaning upholstered chairs an easier task

Using a handheld vacuum with a specialist crevice nozzle helps remove dust, remove stubborn stains and keep your chair in tip top condition. Most modern vacuum cleaners come with a brush attachment, but you can accessorise it to help better clean upholstery.

If you are worried about something valuable being collected at this time, panty hose secured around the vacuum nozzle, secured with a rubber band, is a highly effective crevice tool. It doesn’t have to be an old panty hose, but they should be clean, and you’ll find larger objects collected at the end of the vacuum as opposed to being swept inside.

Are there cleaning instructions on your upholstered chair?

Given most people, mainly men, ignore instructions on essential electrical items, it is fair to say many households overlook cleaning instructions on an upholstered chair. After all, it is best to ensure chairs and couches don’t sit in direct sunlight, but how many people ignore that advice?

So, people don’t always do as they should, but this is a mistake when it comes to caring for chairs and furniture. You might be surprised at the invaluable information contained on the label you tuck away out of view of your upholstery.

Always test before cleaning

You should have a good idea of whether to attack the area with water or if more powerful solvents are required. If there is no cleaning code or written instructions for your upholstered chairs, always be sure to undertake a cleaning test before you cover the entire couch. Testing cleaning materials on a hidden chair section can prevent serious problems.

Try a steam cleaner to improve the process

If you are confident that a mark is cleanable with water, it makes sense to use a steam cleaner on the stain. Steam helps to loosen particles, making your cleaning process more effective.

A steam clean works wonders on living room furniture

If you have a steam cleaner then advice from the Cleanup Team is to use this method, but if not, carefully positioning an iron so the released steam impacts the stain is often just as effective. While there is a range of affordable steam cleaners to choose from, not every household requires one. More details here on how steam cleaning works.
So, being adaptable in finding a suitable cleaning solution to clean upholstery makes sense, and in many cases, an iron delivers the steam cleaning power you need!

Starting the actual cleaning process

The preparation stage is essential, and it can make the cleaning phase more effective, but at some point, you need to attack stains with purpose. If you plan on using water, you should also have:

  • A dish with soap and tepid to hot water – liquid detergent is permissible
  • A sponge or microfiber cloth

Some people like to place the soapy mixture into a spray bottle, adding a touch of power to remove stains. In many cases, soap, warm water and a clean cloth is all you need to clean fabric sofas and all delicate fabrics.

It should go without saying, but a clean cloth is a vital part of the cleaning solution. You don’t want to gently wipe your fabric chairs only to find a stained or marked cloth has made the problem worse! And to reiterate, also carry out a spot test on upholstery, even if you are using soapy water! You will be thankful for this step if it uncovers any problems.

Be gentle with your cleaning solution

It is best to gently dab the stain with your damp cloth; if you rub the stain, there is a chance that you will weaken the upholstered fabric, even when you gently rub the seat cushions or dining chairs. After covering the stain of your upholstered furniture, you should dry the area with paper towels or a cloth.

It might be that a deep clean is necessary to return your upholstery to its best appearance, but in the short term, a spot clean with dish soap and a microfiber cloth is often an effective cleaning method.

Using a slow sweeping movement to cover the entire surface of your upholstery is a good tactic, and in many cases, this will spot clean your upholstery. Be sure to wipe off any soapy residue.

Tough stains require tougher solutions

Items you should consider when you need to to clean an entire piece of upholstered furniture or tough stains include:

  • Commercial cleaning products, including hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • A clean microfibre cloth
  • A scrub brush (be careful to avoid scratching)
  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap

According to The Sparkle Gang who come across badly soiled furniture in the jobs they get for hoarder cleaning water isn’t enough, you should use a more potent substance on upholstery such as white vinegar, rubbing alcohol or vodka.

Hydrogen peroxide helps remove harsh stains from upholstery

For harsh stains, hydrogen peroxide is an option, but please review the cleaning instructions carefully when using hydrogen peroxide for spot cleaning. The same can be said for baking soda. Baking soda is highly effective, but it is powerful, especially when mixed with white vinegar.

Be sure to air dry your upholstery

The short-term issue with substances like vinegar or alcohol is the smell, but when the upholstery dries, the smell will disappear. An additional benefit of using baking soda is that when the powder absorbs nasty smells, it is very effective at removing cigarette smoke from chairs.

A good air dry will only achieve so much, but you can remove smells and stains with a more rigorous cleaning method.

Time to get tough?

At first, it is always best to adopt a delicate approach in spot cleaning an upholstered couch. However, if this doesn’t remove the stain, you must be tough.

As mentioned earlier, if you use a harsher cleaning liquid, carry out a spot test on a discrete part of the couch. It should be okay, but you would be distraught if cleaning a stain made your chair or sofa even more unsightly.

Repeat if necessary

Some upholstered chair stains are extremely tough and require more than one cleaning process to return to their expected state. This is frustrating and time-consuming, but in the end, a diligent approach to cleaning your chair is worth it if you entirely remove the stain.