Upholstery Cleaning: A Brief Guide

You might be thinking that upholstery cleaning is a simple process, but it’s actually quite complex. There are many different types of upholstery materials and some require special care. Some fabrics can’t handle water while others need to be dry cleaned only. And then there are the practical considerations like how much space you have in your home or office for storage of furniture when you’re not using it. This guide will help you navigate through these challenges so that your upholstered furnishings stay clean and fresh!

What is Upholstery?

First, let’s start with the basics. Upholstery is any kind of fabric that has been applied to a frame or base for the purpose of seating furniture. The most common types are leather and polyester fabrics but there are many others including linen, wool, silk brocade, plush velvet, cotton twill…you get the idea!

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is the most common method for upholstery cleaning. Most of us have seen commercial steam cleaners in use at restaurants or stores that need to clean large areas quickly and efficiently, but you can have one too! This type of machine blasts out pressurized hot water which loosens dirt particles so they are easily removed when wiped away with a damp cloth. The hot water also kills germs and odors which makes it perfect for cleaning furniture in your home or office that is regularly used by family, employees, or customers.

Steam cleaners are great because they can be used on any type of upholstery material (even leather) without fear of damage to the fibers due to their low-pressure operation. There are also smaller, handheld steam cleaners available that can be used for spot cleaning or deodorizing small areas like the inside of your car.

Steam Cleaning Steps:

  1. Vacuum Upholstery to pick up loose dirt and debris
  2. Mix Hot water with an all-purpose cleaner (like vinegar) in a spray bottle
  3. Spray the upholstery with cleaner and let it sit for a minute or two
  4. Wipe away the dirt using a soft, damp cloth
  5. Repeat as necessary

Steam Cleaning Tips:

Always check to make sure you’re cleaning your upholstery material according to its care tag. Most modern steam cleaners have built-in sensors that will not allow you to use them on materials that can be damaged by hot water or steam.

Dry Cleaning

Though rare, there are some types of upholstery material that should only be dry cleaned such as wool and silk. For these fabrics, the best way to clean them is with a vacuum cleaner first because it will pick up any dirt particles that can be dislodged by the dry cleaning solvent.

Dry Cleaning Steps:

  1. Vacuum Upholstery to pick up loose dirt and debris
  2. Fill a bucket with dry-cleaning solution (available at most supermarkets or hardware stores)
  3. Submerge the fabric in the bucket for approximately 20 minutes then remove and let air dry
  4. Repeat if necessary and allow to fully dry before using the furniture again

Dry Cleaning Tips:

Always check to make sure you’re cleaning your upholstery material according to its care tag. Some types of upholstery can only be dry cleaned, but others should never be exposed to solvents like this.

Cleaning Upholstery by Hand

This is the most labor-intensive way to clean your upholstered furniture, but it’s also a great method if you’re trying to remove specific stains from an area. This process works best on materials that can handle being wet such as leather and cotton because water could damage other types of fabric.

Cleaning Upholstery by Hand Steps:

  1. Mix a mild soap solution in a bucket of hot water
  2. Use a sponge or soft cloth to wipe the upholstered furniture clean, going with the grain on fabrics that have nap and against it on smooth materials like leather
  3. Repeat as necessary until stains are removed

Cleaning Upholstery by Hand Tips:

Never use harsh chemicals on your upholstery material. Even if it’s not very dirty, some soaps can strip the color or damage fibers over time which will make your furniture look old and faded

Protect Upholstered Furniture

Once you’ve cleaned your upholstered furnishings with one of these methods, be sure to protect them from future stains and dirt by using a waterproof, stain-resistant furniture protector. This will also help prevent the fabric from fading or becoming brittle over time which can happen if it’s overexposed to sunlight.

Also, be sure to vacuum your upholstered furniture regularly and spot clean any stains as they happen. This will help prevent the dirt from settling in deep down into the fibers where it can’t be reached with a simple cleaning solution or damp cloth.